October 8, 2011

Mind the Dot.

There is an inter-connectedness in all things; seemingly big and [un] noticeably small. ~UniversalEmpress’ Facebook status: Mon 3 October 2011

Looking back over the past several weeks, I am awed by my miraculous ability to now being in a position where I’m jumping for joy.

I recently read somewhere that in many African languages there is no direct translation for the word depression.  Increasingly a household first world word, perhaps its absence in African language stems from the fact that if people were to succumb to it, they may as well just lay down and die.

Anyone who has encountered depression within self or others, mere words fail to articulate the immensity of my compassion.  Depression has certainly knocked on my door a few times; I know to not make a mockery of it.

There is something about utter hopelessness that surpasses depression.  To a large extent, Africa is a land of hopelessness.  Yet to an even larger extent She [Africa] is also the epitome of faith, courage, hope and resilience.

Here in CAR, on a daily basis I witness folk grappling for bare survival thus erasing any space for depression, or tripping to insanity, a manifestation of utter hopelessness.

Recently, on a particularly gloomy morning – both weather-wise and internally – I approached the mat, an intrinsic part of my daily ritual.  I must have been moving through my fifth sun salutation when it dawned on me the scene before me as I inhaled and exhaled.

Facing the Oumbangi River is a semblance of an asphalt road dotted by pot-holes.  About half a dozen young boys, perhaps between the ages of 9 and 14 – they may even be older however being malnourished it’s hard to definitively tell – some of them naked, others in worn, torn, filthy undergarments – are scooping up dirt from the side of the road with their tiny bare hands, filling in the potholes and then whenever a car drives by, they frantically rush towards it with a rusty tin can that they have transformed into a make-shift collection tray, begging for money and/or change.

It wasn’t until several hours later as I recounted this dire scene to a friend while speaking on the telephone that I realized the extent to which I’d somehow managed to so normalize this abhorrent picture of poverty before me that I was able to even practice in its very presence.  I became raw at the thought of my own numbness.

A few mornings later, the blue-black Hindu Goddess Kali, revered by some yet feared by many appeared to me in my meditations, prodding me to sweep my garden clean so that in planting new bulbs, I give them space to blossom.  Not a frequent visitor of mine, I am blessed with enough spiritual sense to understand and appreciate that the time to fully emerge from my semi-conscious state is now.

Part of my death/regeneration cycle lead me to visit an old journal, one that I began in February 2010.  One particular entry – where I’m be-moaning my then partner’s incessant projections – actually has me throwing back my head in laughter.

We/I often talk about the process of journaling as being a cathartic one.  However if you’re like me, we write the stuff and then close the book, pretty much like all of the other stuff that we have swept under the carpet of shame, buried in the basement of fear or shoved into the attic of anger.

It takes real courage to re-read our journals.  After all, our egos hate it when we look silly.  Yet the real paradigm shift of the journaling process occurs when we re-visit our stuff in time, with distance and perspective.  The ultimate gift in this part of the process is that the very answers that you sought in the initial writing phase literally jump off the page at you.  Because we’re standing so close to ourselves at the outset, it is virtually impossible to grasp the gift that in fact is already in your hands – literally and figuratively!

Today I was blessed with the unexpected opportunity to discuss with a colleague an issue that has given me a few sleepless nights lately.  Total length of time of this exchange: 3 minutes.  A self-inflicted burden that I’d been dragging around for several weeks, months in fact, immediately wilted away, reminding me that when we are truthful, to ourselves and others clarity abounds – without hoopla or fanfare.  Hence the renewed pep in my step!

As countless tributes are bestowed upon the life of Steve Jobs, I am especially moved by these words he echoed, as they so beautifully merge the journey of my life, this past week especially:

“…you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Steve, you chose to lead your life in such a way that moved, touched and inspired many – through your humility, your grace, your courage, your vision and by no means least, your fearlessness.

The inter-connectedness of recent events both ominous and minute, have shown me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am on my destined path, even in those darkest unsure moments when I can barely see my feet let alone to step one in front of the other.

Just for today, all that matters is the dot.







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