I had a teacher during my early teenage years, a lovely, gracious, elegant lady with an easy laugh that always began in her eyes. I attended an all-girls Catholic Convent school, so of course, "Religion" was one of our scheduled classes throughout my seven years there. However, the religion classes this teacher taught were not confined by narrow walls of doctrine. She spoke to us of life and living effectively and moral courage and commitment and joy, always joy. One of the things she said, which I have never forgotten, is that the success of our lives would distill down into simply this: how few regrets we had when we lay on our deathbed. These words have come back to me again and again when I have been at crossroads in my life. Oftentimes, because of them, I have elected to "take the road less traveled". I wish I could write now that this always opened out into a field of spectacular roses, or daffodils, or even Brussels sprouts (the likes of which, growing on their stalks as they do, I find utterly fascinating), but this would not be the truth. Sometimes, I could not wait to get off that damned blasted rocky trail, full of potholes, booby-trapped with horseshit, alive with all sorts of stinging bugs (which I FEAR like all get-out), that I had selected in a complete absence of "wisdom" and "practicality". I would scoff at myself for BEING the cliche called "Follow Your Heart". Like that time I decided to go on a research mission to Cameroon, West Africa with an Immunologist who turned out to be completely, certifiably, 100%, INSANE....based on a few lines from a Paul Simon song that my aunt loved and made me love too: "Joseph’s face was black as night The pale yellow moon shown in his eyes His path was marked By the stars in the Southern Hemisphere And he walked his days Under African Skies." The expanded version of this incredible tale is too long for a blog...maybe I'l write a short story, or a long one, about it someday. Suffice it to say, I was lucky to get out of that little adventure with my life and health intact....and only a great deal of mental trauma to process. My point here is that looking back, thus far, choosing as I have, usually always electing the path of adventure, challenge and frankly, dumb crazy...has certainly not always been easy and I have kicked myself here and there. However, the blessing of each and every such experience has been...well...experience. And that has been invaluable, even when not so fun. Okay, even when pretty awful. These are the gems that fill up the "suitcase" of my life. Nature abhors empty space (as do husbands, needing then as they do, to leave pocket debris all over an empty, clean table wearing a fresh tablecloth). I know if they weren't there, that bag of mine would have been getting chock full of regrets. So I guess I will keep choosing against "do nots", to avoid binding myself in knots, so that when one day I "Be Not" :-), my soul can cast a parting look over its virtual shoulder at the years behind and sigh with satisfaction for the beauty of it all: not because life was necessarily always easy, but because it was always LIVED. Below are some photos from that time I made us hike Half Dome-without-training-for-months-before-like-Hubs-said-we-should-and-I-lost-two-toenails-painfully-and-he-nearly-fell-to-his-demise-on-Sub-Dome-trying-to-help-a-panicked-wife-to-move-forward-with-no-good-hand-holds-and-got-a-huge-gash-on-his-leg-and-has-the-scars-to-prove-it.
And here's a great video I saw yesterday which birthed this post this morning.
With all of you, on the trail....Siri Amrita
I have been thinking a lot these days about interpersonal encounter. Each one is an opportunity for self discovery. When we begin to have the desire to grow in consciousness, relationships take on a different meaning and it seems, suddenly present new challenges. If they are to be retained, it then takes courage and raw honesty, both with ourselves and another, in order to communicate deeply. Often we have to be able to admit to our humanity, to having thoughts and feelings that are, well.... just not very generous, or secure. And the other has to hear this without judgement and not assign blame or shame or become reactive. This level of exchange is only for the Warrior: it is not found on the "ordinary" path of anger, retaliation and revenge. The "war" is against all within us that blocks the light of peace, understanding and compassion. It is only with this light that we can truly see the other as us, I as You, and us both as God. Humeehum, brahm hum. This is why we HAVE each other: to learn the lessons of love, to experience in some small measure the infinite love of the Divine. Surely Love's lessons are not always easy, surely not for the faint of heart, but striving to learn them is the most beautiful effort of our time here on earth. Let me not suffer; let me not cause others to suffer; make me an instrument of Your peace (thank you, beloved St. Francis of Assisi for those last words-and here are a few pictures from our visit to Assisi a little over a year ago). Siri Amrita Kaur
I am a field of awareness. Any thing beyond that is identification with form...