This past month was supposed to be my summer sabbatical in Sri Lanka – a chance to rest, reflect, recharge, renew, and work on my tan. While I did get through six novels (including Philip Kerr’s amazing Berlin Noir trilogy) and an equal number of volumes of business development and spiritual philosophy, life intervened in my grand plans and we wound up having to cancel our family vacation. Instead, I spent the majority of my time off adapting to my wife’s newly broken legs, trying to move house, and recovering from gum surgery.
While I would love to say that my deep understanding of the principles behind life allowed me to handle the whole thing with ease and grace, in truth I spent a disproportionate amount of time feeling sorry for myself and wondering if I actually understood anything worth sharing with the world.
Fortunately, I had the sense to reach out to a friend in the midst of my mélange of self-doubt and self-loathing. She very graciously listened as I shared my litany of life events before asking me a very simple question.
“Do you think your circumstances have a lot to do with your state of mind right now?”
I knew the “right” answer was that they couldn’t, but I knew with equal assurance that my mood seemed to me to be at least 80% circumstantial and only 20% to do with the creative power of thought.
She then said something that cut to the very heart of the matter:
“So… you forgot something.”
I burst into tears at the simple truth of what she said. The burden it felt like life had handed me lifted in the clear awareness that life was just “life-ing”. The weight of the world I had been carrying on my shoulders was just the weight of unrecognized thought, and had nothing to do with lost money, broken legs, or anything else on my list.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”In that moment I remembered that nothing on the outside can make me feel anything – that there’s nothing to worry about and I can worry about anything.” quote=”In that moment I remembered that nothing on the outside can make me feel anything – that there’s nothing to worry about and I can worry about anything.”]
As often happens for me in moments of insight, my sense of humor came back online and my experience of what was happening shifted from negative to positive without any particular intention, will, or choice. One moment my life looked like a sorry pile of ick; the next, it looked like an incredible pile of gifts sitting under the tree on Christmas morning.
I didn’t just remember that my experience of life only works one way – from formless to form, inside to out, no-thing to some-thing. I remembered that one single moment spent at home in myself and present to the presence of the deeper mind is worth ten thousand hours of thinking myself in and out of temporary realities.
I noticed that despite my apparent lostness, the intelligence I’m made of knew to reach out to a friend instead of going deeper into the morass of my personal thinking. I recognized that each time I wake back up to who and what I am before thought, I relax into it more.
As my friend said to me:
[click_to_tweet tweet=”“Remembering builds heart muscle. Each time we remember who we are and what we’re not, our level of faith and knowing deepens.”” quote=”“Remembering builds heart muscle. Each time we remember who we are and what we’re not, our level of faith and knowing deepens.””]
So while there were more than a few times over the last month that I seriously contemplated giving up on writing and teaching and going back to something simple (like driving a fork lift or show business), you’re stuck with me for at least a little while longer.
In the meantime, and particularly if you’re dealing with life “life-ing” in your own world, I encourage you to sit with one of my favorite reflections from Franz Kafka:
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
With all my love,