Saturday, May 3, 2014

Is it Up or Is it Down?

Last weekend I was away at Long Beach with my family. And we had a perfect weekend. was it sunny the whole time – no. was it rainy the whole time – no. did all our personalities mesh together all the time – no. what made it a perfect weekend? our willingness to claim it. Getting together a trip like this takes some organization – 5 people, 3 locations 12 meals, 4 days of activities, living together in one house. We were prepared and………… we were flexible. Being west coast people, we brought rain clothes and shorts. Sandals and hiking boots. Nutritious meals and smores. It poured when we were hiking deep in the rainforest – we could hear the rain overhead in the canopy. The afternoon we wanted to spend on the beach – it was sunny and even hot. It was perfect. I really enjoyed the 2 sunny days we had last week. Got out my summer dresses, painted my toenails and wore sandals – yay! I was hoping it would be sunny for a few days and a gardener friend of mine was so happy to see the clouds and rain because she had just transplanted her seedlings and it would be just what they needed. remember the line from Paul Simon song: one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor. How do we live with that truth? Can we embrace both the floor and the ceiling? We may think we need to bring balance into the picture – that’s a word I am really enjoying exploring – because where would balance be in the floor and ceiling model. Halfway between? That doesn’t sound doable. It really is a matter of shifting from one to the other. Enjoying the experience and strengths of one place AND recognizing when we have been neglecting the other side so that we can shift and experience the other. We need both – we can’t have ceilings without floors. But let’s leave that metaphor and look at one an example for one we all experience. You have heard this many times – we are each a unique expression of God, or the divine. We all have different backgrounds, experiences, thoughts. Even in the same family – each child has a unique perspective on ‘what happened’. I remember being so shocked to find this out when my brother and I were talking in our 30’s. do you remember when..no, it didn’t happen like that – this is how it was. we were both there – we both remember the incident. It wasn’t a matter of disagreement – it was a matter of realization that we had each had an experience that was unique to us. There was no argument – we just both listened to each other and were amazed that the story could be so different when we were both in the same room at the same time. Our uniqueness is our strength – we each bring something different to wherever we go. Each one of us is important. That’s a great thing to remember about ourselves. Now what happens if we live entirely in this realm? I’m unique, I’m special, there’s nobody like me. It’s all about ‘me’. Very little thought or consideration for others. We act or speak without thinking about the impact. We take action, thinking only of ourselves, what we want. Not what they may be feeling or thinking. Can you see how if we dwell in that place we can easily fall into selfishness, callousness, insensitivity? What is the other teaching that we hold in juxtaposition to ‘we are each different’? we are all one. Let’s go to that side of the equation. We have so many things in common. We are alive, breathing beings. Human beings. We all need food, safety, security, love. We have all experienced physical pain and emotional pain. We all have parents – whether or not we even knew who they were, or they are with us today. We are social creatures. We see ourselves in relationship with others. We know that we do not act in isolation. We can see the effect of our words and actions on other people. We are starting to see in a big way the effect of our actions on mother earth. Now what happens if we live entirely in this realm? we lose touch with who we are – our identity. We don’t honour or recognize our differences. Our actions are based on what is best for everyone else. We let other people and circumstances determine what we do or how we think. How we feel. Can you see that each of these two things: individuality and oneness – are good. are necessary? Are important. They are not opposites – right or wrong, good or bad. We need both of them – not one or the other. And you know what happens when we stay too long in one or the other. We start experiencing the downsides: selfishness, insensitivity or……….losing ourselves, wanting only what everyone else wants, codependency. And that’s good when we notice that. because that’s the clue that we are putting roots down in one or the other - getting stuck. And its time to move to the other side. the tension between these two truths will always be there. When do we stand up for ourselves, when do we accede to others? I invite you to be OK with tension – watch for it – it will let you know when it is time to move. We are one and we are individuals. Both of these perspectives are valid and real. If we embrace one and ignore the other, something will be lost – part of the picture will be hidden. So let’s see if we can stay open to this question: is it up or is it down? yes!