We're at Part 2 of this post. You can read the first part here. When we last left off, our ignoble hero (me) had just come to the realization that the vast world of certainty and the known had become small and contained. It was time to take a step into something different.
It was predictable, when I stepped out of the secure work as a lawyer and into the unknown world of coach and entrepreneur, that I would take everything on myself. If there was no ability to trust the universe/spirit/the flying spaghetti monster, and no ability to really trust other people (they were there, and some of them even liked me, but I knew that if I ever wanted to get something done, I was the only person to do it).
And I did! I took it on really hard.
It was exhausting.
So maybe there was something worth checking out in this spirituality realm. I asked Denise for a book on the topic, and she recommended Marianne Williamson's book, A Return to Love. The book was based on Marianne's own journey through and interpretations of a book called A Course in Miracles.
For someone that had based a significant amount of his being on skepticism, certainty and empiricism, Marianne's book was a challenge. She made bold sweeping statements at times, like there only two fundamental places to come from: Love and Fear.
Remember this scene in Donnie Darko?
That's how I felt (including the look on Donnie's face). But at the same time, I'd been doing a lot of work. And I earnestly wanted to create a shift. It made sense to me that, given everything I'd created up to this point, I would experience a lot of resistance to any notion of spirituality. As I had identified, it was outside of my comfort zone.
A Return to Love didn't really hit the mark for me. I appreciated it as a jumping off point, and I liked that it took an alternate interpretation of the bible and scripture, but I still struggled with the fact that it was so rooted in Western Religion.
The next book I read was lent to me by my colleague, Brian Conlon: The Way of Aikido. Aikido had interested me for a while now, and I loved the concept of the way of harmony. I also loved that it was a martial art based around a philosophy. More so than a technique used to harm people, it was the physical embodiment of a philosophy focused on creating harmony in the world around you.
That concept alone resonated deeply with me. Although I could see with painfully sharp awareness that I was a long way from being harmonious everywhere in life, I certainly aspired towards it.
The book was great. It spoke of a lot of different things that resonated with me, and it also harkened back to the work I'd done around zen philosophy a few years earlier.
There was a breakthrough brewing...
The breakthrough happened on the heels of a breakdown (as they always do). While at one of our training weekends in San Diego, I got taken out by something someone said, and realized I needed to go and do some completion to get myself sorted out.
As I did the work, I saw what lay underneath my incompletion: I was exhausted. Doing it all myself, taking everything on, saying yes to everything (because if I don't, everything will fall apart), had left me worn out and with no more wax to burn in my proverbial candle. I ended up taking the rest of the day off simply to recuperate.
Following that breakdown, I took two things on. First, I devoted myself to creating stillness as part of my daily routine, re-introducing regular meditation as part of my mornings. In the past it had been a struggle, but this time, I knew there was value.
Meditating, at least in part, was an act of faith and trust. Trust that it was alright for me to spend ten minutes not thinking, not doing, not acting, not worrying, not nothing (shut up, I like the way I write). For some people, ten minutes is a piece of cake. For me, it's an eternity.
The other thing that happened was Brian lent me a second book, Illusions by Richard Bach.
Illusions spoke to me on a spiritual level unlike anything I'd ever read. It was possibly the most profound book that I'd ever come across. Illusions created the grounding for my spirituality. A way to see what it actually meant to live with a sense of spirit — that everything would work out, in its own way.
I was transfixed immediately after reading this opening parable:
"A mill-man spoke and said 'Easy words for you, Master, for you are guided as we are not, and need not toil as we toil. A man has to work for his living in this world'.
The master answered and said "Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river".
"The current of the river swept silently over them all - young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self."
"Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth."
"But one creature said at last, 'I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom."
"The other creatures laughed and said 'Fool! Let go, and that current you worhship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!'"
"But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks."
"Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more"
"And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried 'See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!'"
"And the one carried in the current said, 'I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.'"
"But they cried the more, 'Saviour!' all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a Saviour."
That called me forward. Hey, what if all there really is to do is trust that things will work out, do our best, be ourselves, as authentically as possible, and step forward into possibility? What if being spiritual just means trusting that the current has a path of its own, and that if you follow it, it will take you places?
Sure, we may get dashed against the rocks, bruised and smashed — but things will work out.
And so that's where I find myself. How do I put that into action? More on that next time.
Where do you notice yourself clinging, avoiding the current of life, attempting to control everything that happens to you? What does your version of getting dashed against the rocks look like?
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