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Dear Ones –
The biggest incentive I have for learning how to let go of my bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, regret, anger, and blame is when I see the faces of other people who have held onto those dark impulses for their whole lives.
Close your eyes for a moment and picture the most bitter person you've ever known.
See what I mean?
Does that person not look like he/she is being dragged through hell — and maybe is dragging everyone else down to hell with him/her?
Is that really the way you want to go?
This is what I ask myself, when I find myself making justifications and exceptions for my own anger (like: "I know, I know, we are supposed to be forgiving and gracious of everyone, but I got REALLY screwed by that guy!"). As though my bitterness is something special, something worth protecting and defending. As though people of grace have not also been screwed over (way worse than me) and yet somehow they rise above it.
Now take a moment and close your eyes and picture the most forgiving and compassionate person you've ever met.
Isn't that the face you want to have someday?
That light? That peace?
That's certainly the face I want.
But I know that you don't just get that face for free. You must work for it, like a miner buried under a collapsed roof.
Do the work. Do whatever you have to do to get there — therapy, prayer, contemplation, ceremony, atonement, study. Start digging toward the light.
Don't allow yourself be dragged to hell while you're still alive.
Let it go,
…the words that have launched every interesting thing I've ever done.
(Mind you, "interesting" does not necessarily mean "smart", or "advisable"…but the end result is usually, at least, quite memorable.)
Dear Ones –
Ok, to be fair, I have gone through little bursts of mediation over the last decade — including a two-month burst earlier this year (which made me feel very proud of myself, the way you feel proud of yourself when you announce that you aren't eating sugar anymore, and then you actually stick to it for a few days.)
I can tell you all the reasons I SHOULD meditate. It is the cure for everything, basically. I believe in that, both scientifically and spiritually. I can certainly tell you all the reasons YOU should meditate. But for some reason, even though I see myself as a deeply disciplined person, and even though I love to engage with the spirit, I can never get a meditation practice to stick for me. Or at least I have never been able to yet.
Nonetheless, people ask me mediation advice all the time, which is kind of like asking Elizabeth Taylor for marriage tips. (I always try to redirect the conversation, like a waiter, like: "Could I perhaps offer you something this evening in the line of advice on writing, instead, ma'am?")
It is what it is. We are what we are.
I do try to walk in the light, anyway — and to bring the light, wherever I go. In my own way, maybe? As best I can? Maybe that's my meditation practice? To stay aware of all the people around me, and to try to shine light to them, whenever I can? Or maybe I'm just lazy, because all I really want to do at dawn is read last month's Vanity Fair? Or maybe it's all just really OK?
This concludes my thoughts this morning — the thoughts of this alleged spiritual teacher!
Sending you love and acceptance and happiness, in any case, from my wide-awake human brain to yours…
THE MOST IMPORTANT WORDS OF MY LIFE…
Dear Ones –
Some of you may remember these lines from EAT PRAY LOVE.
These are the words I said to myself (wrote to myself, actually) when I was lonely and scared in the middle of the night in Rome, far away from all who loved me.
This was a practice I had started about a year earlier, when I was in the worst of my depression — to write compassionate and loving letters to myself in a notebook, saying to myself everything I had always wished somebody else would say to me.
Until I learned how to speak to myself this way, I had no chance of peace.
Other people can love you. Other people can comfort you. But other people often come and go. And if you can't soothe and reassure yourself in your darkest, loneliest hour, nobody can.
There were nights when I sat up for hours, writing words like this to myself again and again, through a scrim of tears and waves of panic. And often another (angrier) part of me would scrawl at the bottom of the page: "This is bullshit. I don't believe in you." Then I would patiently begin writing again at the top of the next page, "But I believe in YOU. And I will not leave your side. I will love you and take care of you forever…" On it would go, until I could finally fall asleep.
Then again the next night…and so on.
That's how I walked through my darkest valley.
I will tell you this — there are STILL hard nights sometimes when I take out the old notebook and ask, "Are you still there?"
"I am still here," I will start writing, "I'm not going anywhere. I'm right here with you. I love you and I will take care of you…"
My promise to myself is this: I will walk beside myself for as long as I live, holding my own hand, taking care of the soul with which I have been entrusted.
I will do that always, whether anybody else is in the room with me or not.
You must learn how to tell yourself that you are loved. You must tell yourself this again and again until slowly you learn to believe it. Start writing yourself love letters. It feels weird at first, but keep going. Practice. Practice more. Practice EVEN more. You'll need it someday — or you may need it right now.
Life can be hard, but without your own certain love for your own tenderest self, it is simply impossible.
Be good to you.
A Facebook friend shared this with me yesterday…I love it, and it is so true. I wish I knew who had written it, but I wanted to share it all with you.