Tag Archives: Self-realization

Everything is waiting for you

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“Everything is waiting for you” by David Whyte

Your great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone. As if life were a progressive and cunning crime with no witness to the tiny hidden transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely, even you, at times have felt the grand array; the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding out your solo voice.

You must note the way the soap dish enables you, or the window latch grants you freedom.

Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity. The stairs are your mentor of things to come, the doors have always been there to frighten you and invite you, and the tiny speaker in the phone is your dream ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation. The kettle is singing even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots have left their arrogant aloofness and seen the good in you at last. All the birds and creatures of the world are unutterably themselves.

Everything, everything, everything is waiting for you.

To hear David Whyte‘s deep TedTalk   about how to be  in conversation with yourself and the world (and some more of his poetry), see below:

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We are all one

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This month I am fortunate enough to start a series of classes with Elder Kaia Svien. The course aims to build upon inner resources so we can be our best selves in face of uncertainty in the world. With the beginning of a new year and a new job, the timing has been impeccable, and I feel so fortunate to cross paths again with such a wonderfully in-tune mentor and role model and a like-minded community.

In class the other night, like in life, I was so up and down. We were asked to introduce ourselves with an animal movement. While I was thinking whale and moving very slowly with my back to the circle – trying to figure out how I would express water coming through a blowhole – when it was time to turn around and share our move with the group my body went all penguin on me, which is a very happy feeling by the way. You should try it. Anyway, despite feeling elated and fortunate to be present that evening, moments later when we had to share about what we were grateful for, I couldn’t help but burst into tears. The only thing that kept coming to my mind was all the planetary and personal and collective sacrifices that have occurred along the way (some intentional and some not-so-intentional) so that people like me could live the privileged life that I lead with ample choices that I make for better or worse. They were tears of joy and sorrow, hope and grief, fear and love, but mostly of gratitude and indebtedness. After sharing what I was grateful for, I was to talk about something I loved as a child that I still love now. Once I finished cry-talking about my love for animals, like a crack of lightning, I came to realize how ridiculous I’ve been leading my life lately, and how I have lost touch with my indebtedness to those that went before me and those that will come.

Here I am in a big life transition, an honor that has only been grounding and challenging and inspiring, and I have spent more time than I care to admit focusing on the “I wish this” or “I wish that” or “I wonder if” or “if only… I did this or did that or that they did that or didn’t do this.” You get the picture. Or I will get that overwhelming feeling, “well what can you really do?”

Well in that moment of exalting my love for my dog, Yuki, as I mentioned something in me seriously clicked and it’s like I actually finally get it. It’s hard to explain. But I know now, that now is the time, and the time is now. We need each other now more than any other time, and I’m ready to be a part of the solution. I’m not just saying this (I have just said this before). I know that our time is precious and the more I spend my energy on the “I wishes” or the finger pointing or the judgment, the less time and energy I have to be the change I want to see in the world.  There isn’t enough time to continue wasting life because of fear and because we are holding back our truth. And that’s that.

So I came on here partially for selfish reasons – to sort it out, but also because I wanted to share this thought process with you in hopes that you will join me in entertaining the possibility of just being once again but in a way that is coming home to our authentic selves and not turning away from our deepest fears and desires and to the fact that we are all connected.

I can’t go without saying that I owe this recent shift in consciousness to a number of people, places, and furry friends in my life – my parents/families (that includes you, Anne!), my teachers past and my teachers present- Kaia, her teacher, Joanna Macy, my yoga teacher, Tanya – and my current supervisors and place of work.

The greatest thing I’m finding about really recognizing that I am part of a whole, is that the whole has plenty of room for all of us – for the penguin moments and for those uncontrollable tears tied to deep grief and pain. As Joanna Macy says about the pain – it is simply the gateway into which you go into a communion with the living world that is fearless.

So tonight, not without regard to the pain and suffering in the world, I offer a toast to celebrate our connection to one another and to the whole. Here is a happy feet, penguin-like kind of a song. Call me cheesy, or call me real. Today, this song’s words resonate with me and I hope they resonate with you, too. Now let’s take care of the world and one another – and for some of us that means starting at home with ourselves, our friends, and our families.

The MCC Forecast by Anne Higgins

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Mandala Reflections often visits the holistic experience of well-being as it relates to personal vocation and self-realization in the greater world. Guest blogger and Crew Leader for Montana Conservation Corps, Anne Higgins, is taking what some might call an “alternative” route in the work she does, and yet her and her “job” fit nicely into this larger conversation about vocation and the meaning of life. Mandala Reflections is honored to share her eloquent work, “The MCC Forecast,” adapted from a piece by Douglass Wood. 

The Forecast:

There is a 95% chance that today’s weather will be either too hot, too cold, too sunny, too rainy, or too windy.

From a desktop sign, Quetico Park Visitors Center

In many ways, trail work is an endlessly repeated exercise in various modes of misery, each one a contrast – therefore, a relief, albeit temporary – to the misery preceding it. So there is always the illusion of looking forward to something that will most likely be … another misery.

Trail work could in fact be described as swinging or cutting or chopping or digging until arms ache, back hurts, skin is burned, legs are cramped and muscles twitch.

Finally a break and a chance to bump camp and a chance to stop swinging, chopping, digging and move to a new area. Also a chance to deal with blackflies, deerflies, and various other versions of evil incarnate; a chance to climb up and down hills with loads that would crush a burro, that strain neck, back, and hamstrings and threaten to drive shoulder blades through hips; a chance to wade through mud, muck and other corruption, to climb over and under deadfalls and trip over stuff and to figure that death will probably arrive – mercifully – before this infernal trail reaches sight of an open, sandy grassy campsite. Where of course, the cycle begins again.

The greater goal and end of this particular cycle is the evening camp, that blessed spot of rock and tree kissed by evening breezes and the last slanted rays of the sun. Having found the camp, at whatever stage of exhaustion seems appropriate to the lateness of the hour and the rigors of the day, it is time to set up the tent, gather water, start the stoves, get out the food, cook the food, and …ahhh…eat. And drink. In a warm and happy trance of pure bliss and satisfaction. This lasts… some moments. With the arrival of the evening watch of mosquitoes, the cooking gear is up-gathered and washed; the food repacked; the pack hoisted and hung safe from bears, mini-bears (chipmunks), and micro-bears (mice); personal hygiene is attended to; the tent entered; tent invading mosquitoes dispatched (except for three which are never found); the sleeping bag snuggled into and finally, sleep. The sweet, dark, wonderful nothingness of…Rock. Root. Pinecone. These are the nemeses that will be there, along with the three renegade mosquitoes, all through the night. They will become intimate with back, sides, and stomach, with muscles, bones, and insides – and loom ever larger and sharper and more offensive in the imagination and the anatomy, until dawn cannot come too soon.

And with the arrival of dawn – the pack is lowered (mini-bears found it anyway), breakfast cooked, water filled, camp attended to, and – back to trail work once more.

The Backcast:

So why…why go through it? Why even be here?

The second answer is easy. Because “here” is where the beauty is. Here is where the sunsets are. Here is where the campsites and campfires are, and the clear deep waters, and the wildlife, and the pines, and the mountains. And yes, the storms and the big winds and the downfalls. Here is where the journey is.

But why go through it? Why do I…why do I go through it? I think because no one else can go through it for me. And because the modern city-world system uses people to get work done. Important work, supposedly. That’s the whole idea. That’s why we get paid. But here – here I’m using work … to get myself done. What better work is there than that?

Anne is a Crew Leader for Montana Conservation Corps. Her crew goes out into the Bitterroot National Forest for 8- 10 days at a time, maintaining back country trails. (Anne is much more than her work, and I personally adore her).

A closing quote to bring it back to Mandala Reflections and the greater community:

“Work is one of the most far-reaching mysteries in a human life. Because it is so common and so much a part of everyday life, it’s tempting to consider work only on a literal level–as a way of making a living. Yet…work is what makes life worth living and accounts for meaning and deep satisfaction…If we were to appreciate more fully the connection between work and our general emotional state, we might withdraw our attention from narcissistic preoccupation with self and find the soul at work in the world. Then we might also realize that it isn’t enough to consider work only in relation to personal and individual issues of meaning and emotion, but that work always implicates family, neighborhood, community, nation, and the globe itself. If the soul is to be served adequately, it isn’t sufficient to find meaningful work for the individual; we also have to examine our social, corporate, and political views on work.” -Thomas Moore

Anne, you continue to make your family and community proud of the work you do, and I can’t wait to learn what’s next on your journey. Thank you for sharing your soul with the world.