November 21, 2012

Stop Trying to be Grateful. ~ Nikki Di Virgilio

Source: flickr.com via Pete on Pinterest

The other day I made a list. The idea to do so arrived spontaneously. 

I will write down everything I am unsure about—all of the issues and questions, currently outstanding, which remain, for now, in the mystery. 

As I made the list, I was amazed at how many unanswered questions I have about my life. I would imagine I am not alone here. But, I did wonder how many had some of the questions I had, especially in mid-life? Will I have a home again—and when and where? Will I have friends? Will my children recover from our accident? Will I find work? Will I finally be able to sit down and write my books? This barely begins the list.

As I finished, many pages later, questions and unknowns still loomed upon the rolling hills in my mind. But now, there was space between all of it and me. In this space, a glimpse of compassion for myself arose. I could see why my brain feels fried and fuzzy. Why I am carrying myself a bit too tightly. Why I just might not be fully myself. Why my creative life suffers.

I posted my experience, briefly, online. Why not try it for yourself, I said, and write down the unknowns, which are probably, continuously, swimming around in your mind. Someone commented: “How about putting the energy instead into all the things that are good in your life?”

I was offended. It had been another long day meandering through the hills of questions, and why do people say stuff like this? Why? Now, I know this person and she did not mean any ill intent. I am sure like most people she was trying to be helpful or induce an agenda, which is not usually helpful. Either case, I was not in the mood for yet another person telling me to be grateful, positive and an utterly outstanding spiritual being.

There was a time, in the comfort of my home in the cul-de-sac, when I sat down nightly to write in my gratitude journal. However, I do not recall this exercise bringing gratitude. Instead, it was a sort of: this-is-what-it-means-to-be-spiritual-and-so-I’ll-do-it exercise. I remained unfulfilled.

I don’t write in that gratitude journal any longer. I’m spending my time living and experiencing life. Processing it. Learning from it, and the lessons have come, and remain, fast and furious. This is what I have found happens when we step out of what we think we should do to be spiritual and actually let life take us for a ride. This is when we truly begin to get a taste of the divine—and it isn’t all clovers and daisies.

I no longer have an interest in trying to be anything: spiritual, grateful, perfect or, I suppose, even kind.

I know I am kind. I also know I am honest and feel a fire in my belly, which only gets more fierce and bright as this ride continues. I realize this fire will be taken in many different ways by many different people. And, none of this is my business (although will probably still, from time-to-time, be offended).

So—back to gratitude. Am I saying don’t be grateful? Of course not, especially as we enter the season of Thanksgiving. But, I am saying: let’s not force it. Let’s stop trying to be spiritual as if all the gurus on earth and all the gods in heaven are watching. Let’s stop performing our way out of what and where we are, and let us, more solidly, move into knowing. Seeing. Feeling.

This brings me to another idea. I am going to do it right now. I am going to write down what I know right now, and what I see. Maybe what I feel.

I know I have family that loves me, and I love them. I see the sun rising. I feel my breath slowing. I know Thanksgiving is near. I know change is inevitable. I can feel my eyes soften, and my mouth go from pierced to neutral. I sense a tiny smile. I know this is gratitude.

Perhaps it is only a play on words: I am grateful for to I see. I know. I feel. I only know what resonates for me now. I spent too many years trying to be. But recently, through myriad experiences, I’ve been tested in ways, which the old me in the cul-de-sac could have never anticipated and surely believed would never happen to a spiritual person like me. These experiences have changed everything about how I see. And, although questions and unknowns loom, larger than ever, I am more fulfilled than I have ever been. It’s inner fulfillment.

To use my eyes to see what is here now, to feel what is here now and to fully know what I now know because of the moments I have truly lived is how I live now. It’s more personal. Less abstract. More heart, soul and inner wisdom. Less thinking, manipulating and forcing. Life now is more real, and although real means also facing what’s overwhelming and difficult, I would not want my life any other way.


Ed: Lynn H.

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