Thursday, December 22, 2011

Picking lint out of my mental bellybutton

This year has been one of extremes. Extreme highs and lows- nights when I wasn't sure how I was going to get up the next day, mornings where I would look around me and marvel with gratitude that this was my life. I saw a manta ray swimming at 70 feet below in Cozumel and I'm not sure I've ever come closer to god in my life. I cried so hard I threw up, in a Houston airport bathroom, comforted by a flight attendant who told me it would look suspicious to security if I didn't peel myself up off the floor and go through customs.

The Dalai Lama says that those who are our enemies should be revered for their ability to teach us in a way that no other human beings can. He makes the point that we rarely have enemies in this life, and that, when we have one, it's an extreme gift. I have worked very hard to soften to this perspective, and have had time to work with it.

And now it is the end of the year, the end of this extremely challenging time. It may not be over- who knows what 2012 will bring-they say it may be the end of the world. But I thought I'd perhaps talk a little bit about what I think these days.

I believe in love. At the end of it all, I believe. And I still love.

I believe in myself. This year, I have lost many friends, my home, people I considered my family, and the person I loved most. I have been betrayed. I have been slandered. I have been hated. Some days, the only way I got through it was to turn up Lady Gaga's "Born this Way" as loud as I could and yell the lyrics to drown out the vicious inner noise. "Don't hide yourself in regret, just love yourself and you're set. I'm on the right track, I was born this way." And I do. I'm not perfect- I've made an avalanche of mistakes- but at the end of the day, I believe in me. I know who I am inside. This year has really helped to solidify that for me.

I believe in the power of karma. Pema Chodron describes karma not as getting "what you deserve"- not the punitive, hateful justice of some sentient universe- but rather, the idea that you are always given exactly what you need to learn the lessons you need to learn. This concept of karma applies to me, but it also applies to my hope for others. May we always get exactly what we need- and take advantage of it so we learn what we can from it.

I believe in the power of distraction. Byron Katie teaches that our minds do more harm to us than anyone else ever does. Someone may hit you, but every time you replay that thought in your head, you are also committing harm to yourself- reawakening that experience, that pain. If you consider how many times we reflect back on painful experiences, we end up doing ourselves harm quite a lot. By distraction, I don't mean simply thinking of something else (though sometimes that's what I've had to do- thanks to Netflix for putting seasons of television on instant view), but by consciously working toward creating space between our thoughts and how much emotion and stake we put into them.

I think happiness is something you work for, consciously. And that it's fleeting. But so is pain, even if it seems like it will never stop hurting. Every day, with work, little pieces move unseen, like cogs in a watch, until suddenly you wake up one morning and realize that you hurt a little less, that you forgive a little more, that everything is a little lighter. With enough work, I think someday you can get to a place where you start at a higher plane of happy, so that even if pain comes (and it always does), you can deal with it from a higher setpoint. That's my goal.

I believe in taking risks. With life and with love. Love is scary as fuck, but in order to make it work, you have to trust that you'll be ok, no matter what. Sometimes I still don't have that trust, but I think one day I will, as I get better at accepting pain and the unknown.

I believe in appreciating today. We have no idea what's coming. Love everyone as hard and as long as you can because if you knew that that moment would be the last time you'd ever see them, ever be that close, you'd hold them and kiss them and tell them you loved them like crazy, rather than just saying goodbye. And maybe that would make us all a bit nuts if we did that every time, but I know I'd have fewer regrets if I'd lived my life that way.

Anyway, I'll stop now. The nice thing about no one reading your blog is that you can write whatever navel-gazing bullshit comes up and there will be no witnesses.

"Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained."
-Seamus Heaney

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