Reflections on 2009

I wanted to conclude the year with a meditation on what proved to be an interesting year for me.  I got engaged and unengaged.  The latter being the hardest thing I’d ever gone through, and I’ve been through my share of tough things.  I also began teaching yoga, and working at the Peace Corps.  I’m grateful to have made it through, and to have re-connected through each of these experiences with my own sense of purpose and meaning, to re-affirm that pain shared is pain lessened. And that lessons shared are lessons learned. 

1. No single relationship can completely fulfill me. My fulfillment plays out through my relationships with myself, with the entire community of people in my life, and with my God — all of whom will be with me until my last breath.  I, my God, and the people in my community may change but my relationships with each will persist to my last breath.  I can only act with the experience and hope I have gained on my path toward my fulfillment. However, its realization is out of my hands.  When it comes, it comes, and when it goes, it goes.  Pressing forward on the journey is all I can ever do.

2. However, pressing toward trying to fulfill myself through any one thing — whether a person, an idea or ideology, a substance or behavior — is powerful, subtle and insistent force in me and in many people. I have long known this about myself, and been vigilant of it daily, and yet that cycle arose again.  A strong, clear, convicted sense of self and of the importance of balancing all the relationships in my life toward my fulfillment is the antidote.  I have to take this antidote in every situation in which I feel that pull toward a ‘fixed idea’ that will ‘fix’ me or everything.

3. Friends are deeply important to my survival and happiness.  They are the people to whom I owe nothing, and who owe me nothing, but we, of our own free choice, give gratefully of ourselves to each other.  The time, empathy, honesty, affirmation, and strength I get and that I am able to give is the very stuff of life. May I also ever be a friend to myself.

4. ‘We work that we may know the seasons.’ So writes Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet.  Work, being of service to others, is my anchor, to the Earth and to the Sun, and to humanity.  Whatever storm may come, I am always held by the very fact of work, of service to others.  This remembrance of the needs of others restores my perspective, puts whatever wounds or challenges I face, into their right context, as but one small bit of a much grander flow.

5. In every crisis lies the opportunity for transformation into the being for whom it is not a crisis, but a matter of course.  If I can allow healing of whatever karma it is that causes me to view the situation as a crisis, it ceases to be one.

6. I may want a life partner, but do not need one. I can be open to the possibility, but I must be aware that in seeking it out, it is possible, in a deep but subtle way, to close myself off to the beautiful fullness of the present moment.   Let me ever remember to be here now, and allow that to make possible futures increasingly obvious.

7. I love teaching. I am a teacher. I love learning. I am a learner.  For myself.    But I am only ever, at best, a guide to others, a guide to remembrance of their own inner teacher and student. Above all else, guides exemplify. Formal instruction or direction, only if invited and only if necessary, can be but one tool of such remembrance.  However, it must be used sparingly, as there is a great danger in it of putting the student’s own inner teacher and learner to sleep — putting the application or improvement of a faculty or skill at odds with the greater development or realization of the Self.

9. Highly skilled and gifted people can be quite foolish or confused, as much as anyone can. Oftentimes moreso, because they may mistake their skill or gift for wisdom and clarity, and others who do the same may often encourage them in this mistake.  So be discerning in choosing one’s guides, teachers, and examples.  Above all else, look for people with the humility to be aware of, and in contact with, their own fallibility.

10. Elegant as it may seem, lists do not have to be ten items long. But while we’re at it, I suppose I also learned that I can keep writing even after a longish absence, that consistency and persistence are not the same, that both are good, and even one is far better than none.

I end with a note of reverence and gratitude to my late father.  These are his feet.

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