Quite often for me, the writing of one article stirs some inner work that reveals another bump in the road – an obstacle that, again, on one level seems like no big deal, yet on another stops the natural unfolding of one’s life path. For every one of us, by sitting with these obstacles, an epiphany arises naturally, along with the doubt of its truth and realness.
Last Sunday, after my article, “Aging Into Shameless Perfection” was published in Orcas Issues, I thought about all of those times in my life where I’d felt shamed, forsaken, and abandoned. I sat with the me of my mid-twenties, who, though doing the best she could, experienced abandonment by her family. I, my current self saw how she, the younger me, still experiences loneliness and isolation. In the quietness of my heart, I told her that I would never, ever abandon her. With all my heart I embraced her with this truth.
In the midst of this moment, I experienced a much deeper embrace by a greater presence, who said to me, as I said to my younger self, “I will never abandon you!” I experienced this within my heart. It was an undeniable, palpable quality of truth. It felt good, it felt true, and it felt real.
So my mind wants in on the action here, wanting to make sense of a non-sensical experience. My mind says, “Well, if it is true, that you will never abandoned me, then I can give up doing anything out of guilt, shame, worry, obligation and fear; that I can focus only on that which is infinitely pleasing; that I don’t have to think or act on any trigger other than what inspires and delights.” The voice then responded, “What reason would you have to act from guilt, shame, worry, and obligation, if you had no fear of rejection, exclusion, abandonment or being ostracized?” Good answer!
I checked in within and saw that the source of so much of my actions and thoughts are derived from my fear of abandonment and rejection. If in my heart of hearts I know I will never be abandoned, then I never have to consider it as a possibility. What is left is that I am free to create and co-create only what brings joy and delight to myself, which inevitably brings joy to others. Cool!
Each of us can feel in our bodies when a truth is a truth. And, though our minds may want to hold onto its power of acting from the past, sometimes it can’t find a loop hole in the logic of the heart.
This morning upon awakening, I began to witness my thoughts as I was planning what I should do today. Even the thought of what I should do triggered the phrase “I will not abandon you.” I thought about what I needed to get done, what is expected of me, things I promised myself. “I will not abandon you” repeatedly came into my awareness. Dang!!!
So, I looked closely at the source of my should’s. I looked closely at the underlying foundations of so much of my thinking and doing, and saw that, as I spoke about in “Aging into Shameless Perfection”, by acting from shame and blame, none of us are able to freely express our essential nature. The underlying reason to act from shame and guilt is the fear of abandonment and being ostracized. If I eliminate fear of abandonment and ostracization, now what? YES – FREEDOM AND FUN!
So many of us have epiphanies and moments of enlightenment. Just yesterday, while at Orcas Center, I was selling tickets to a patron, and he stopped in mid-sentence. He said “I just had an epiphany!” It was a really important moment for him, though I can’t remember what it was. But for him, something wonderful and ineffable occurred. And after he paid and was given his tickets, he quickly went off to document the important elements of this momentous occasion.
Moments of transcendence occur frequently. The challenging practice is to stay present to the truth of that moment, and somehow find ways to instill those practices into everyday reality. This can be really, really hard work, especially when most epiphanies fly in the face of consensus reality. The words “I will never abandon you,” certainly is juxtaposed to everything I’ve been taught and experienced as a human being. Many epiphanies are like that. They require us to discern the fascinating dilemmas each of us face, over and over again.
As we age, we gather more and more life experiences, which reinforces either the consensus view of reality, or a reality based on a greater wisdom, a greater knowing. It is so easy to remain entrenched in a reality of fear, especially with the political and environmental issues that are so in our face. It’s easy to continue to have faith in this view of reality – it’s like choosing which TV station to watch for accurate news and reporting and only watching that specific channel, because you have faith that you will be given the truth here – no fake news. These days, more and more, we question: Where is the truth being told?
Each and everyone of us has to answer this question for ourselves. Where is the truth being told? Which channel of information validates our fears of abandonment and annihilation, and which channel validates the other truth, that you will never be abandoned. And the important question then to ask yourself is, which channel will you choose to turn on every single day of your life?
A client of mine, Clark, is racked with guilt because he feels that if he isn’t trying to save the world from extinction, then he is complicit with all of what is happening in the world. Clark is literally driving himself into insanity because he cannot successfully convince others of the political reality underlying global warming. He watches tons of videos that reinforce and validate his truth, and people are shunning him because they don’t want to hear Clark talk about what they need to do! He believes his responsibly is doing whatever he can to save the world, and the outcome is that he is being shunned, excluded and abandoned. In this moment he feels despair in his defeat!
Like Clark, each of us chooses to see ourselves and our reality from one particular vantage point. In essence, we choose the channel through which we see the world. What if Clark switched off his channel and the shame, guilt and blame that are part and parcel to his way of operating? What if he gave up his war cry of “If you are not doing something, you are doing nothing, and you are complicit with the evils of the world.”? What if he just turned his YouTube channel to one that provides a different orientation to reality? Lots of questions, and they are easy questions to ask. The answers are sometimes heartbreaking and feel impossible, for one may have to experience the defeat of a fight that was not to be won in the first place. That sucks!
To age like a guru requires that we question our personal reality – not the reality of the external world. It requires discerning the operating principles from which we think, act, and be, every moment of our lives. To age like a guru requires that we surrender the fight, knowing that that may be the greatest possible gift to ourselves and the world. To age like a guru allows us to surrender the belief that abandonment is inevitable and there is no way out of living in fear of defeat and loss of everything. This is big work!
To age like a guru means asking really tough questions, perhaps never discovering those answers that could bridge consensus reality with any other reality. It is a deep personal journey, one that is exquisitely unique and beautiful for each of us.
It is just a choice!
If you’d like to join Dr. Rosie in the AGING – Who Me in-person discussions at the Orcas Island Senior Center, they meet every 2nd and 4th Tuesday, from 10 – 11:30 a.m.If you’d like to join an online discussion group, please email Dr. Rosie to encourage her to make this available – firstname.lastname@example.orgOr, if you’d like to set up a life coaching session, call 360-376-4323.If you are interested in knowing more about the 7-day retreat in Bali, Weaving Heaven and Earth, click here! https://www.