Category Archives: Three Truths and One Wish

Three Truths and One Wish

crossthatbridge1. Sometimes I forget to leave room for myself. I am so busy attending to what others need and want, I forget about my own requirements and desires. I am so worried about what I should do, have to do, need to do, that I lose sight of my own hungers, my need for rest and nourishment. Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) in this regard is both my superpower and my kryptonite.

2. Chronic undercaring catches up with me. Eventually I burn out, wear down, crash, wreck myself, and am forced to slow down and take care of myself because I just can’t push anymore. Once I finally begin the work of healing, there is such a lack — I’ve gone beyond hunger to starving, beyond tired to complete exhaustion.

3. I can’t figure out how to do both, to give but also receive, to be generous with others but also with self. I work and serve and help, put all my effort towards easing suffering where I find it, and I do so full force until I just can’t go anymore. Then is when I finally submit to attending to myself beyond the bare minimum.

One Wish: That this suffering may ease, wherever it exists. May my innate wisdom and compassion guide me to a way of being both of service to the world and of benefit to myself.

Three Truths and One Wish

sunflowerpath1. We all want the same thing: to find happiness and avoid suffering. We are the same, connected by this shared intention. An awareness of this fundamental fact has the potential to generate compassion, cultivate wisdom, foster connection and relationship.

2. Life is suffering. This isn’t just my own belief — it is the first of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, “life is suffering,” which is defined more specifically as old age, sickness, and death. These are the things we can’t avoid because they simply are the nature of being human. If we are lucky, we grow old, and even if we don’t get that old we all age, continuing to get older with each passing day. We will get sick, even if we are relatively healthy and strong. And we all eventually die.

3. We generate unnecessary suffering, for ourselves and others. This goes beyond the suffering that we cannot avoid (aging, sickness, death) into a whole other territory of our own creation. In our efforts to seek happiness and bypass suffering, we can get confused. We resist change, we deny impermanence is real, we struggle against all kinds of perceived obstacles, we try to avoid discomfort, we reject what is happening, we freak out and run away, we hide, we numb out, we blame others for our problems, we are aggressive, even violent, we chase after what we think might make us happy, attempting to capture and imprison it.

One wish: May we work to ease suffering, in ourselves and in the world. May we seek out the ways we are generating suffering and root them out, transform the old patterns and habitual ways of being that make things more difficult and dark. May we remember who we are, fundamentally compassionate and wise. May we have the courage to dispel confusion, in ourselves and others. May we find it in ourselves to truly forgive, to open our hearts, be fully present and deeply loving.

 

Three Truths and One Wish

bigboyharness1. Sometimes having a puppy is boring. You have to watch them constantly when they are awake and loose, and even though they sleep a lot it’s in short bursts so you can’t really get a lot done. You are cautioned by your vet to not take them anywhere until they are 16 weeks and have had all their shots, so even if you cheat on that so you can socialize them, you are more isolated than usual. You get cabin fever, go stir crazy, and this particular puppy came in the middle of winter, so there was even more of that. After weeks and weeks of this, you kinda wish they’d grow up already. They are impossibly cute and loveable and sometimes hilarious when they are small and you know you’ll miss it when they get big, but at the same time they are making you crazy and boring you to tears.

Spend as much as you want on toys, an empty plastic jug wins every time

Spend as much as you want on toys, an empty plastic jug wins every time

Danielle LaPorte posted last week about being so sick she’d had to cancel lots of important things, stuff she’d really wanted to do. She said about it, “Sometimes life will bind you so you can feel how free and loved you are.” I feel the same about this moment in my life, this brief moment that I keep wishing away even as I work so hard to be here, to stay present.

Ringo's first bath

Ringo’s first bath

2. “The days are long, but the years are short.” I’m not sure who to attribute that to, as I’ve seen it assigned various authors. Whoever said it, it’s so true. These puppy days feel like they’ve gone on forever and might never end, but the almost eight years we had with Obi and the barely ten we had with Dexter felt impossibly short. I still have trouble believing they are really gone, struggle to understand how that could even be possible.

theboysbig3. You have to be a particular kind of crazy to raise a dog. It’s so much work and your time with them is so short. And the love sneaks up on you. One day you are fantasizing about running away from home or giving them back, and the next you are hopelessly and irrevocably bonded to them. There’s nothing else in my life I put so much effort toward only to have my heart broken in the end, knowing that’s the only possible outcome.

brothersparttwoOne wish (okay, more like many wishes): To keep my heart open and stay present no matter what arises. To not give up, no matter how hard it gets. To lean into love and joy as an antidote to suffering. To be gentle and forgive myself when I make a mistake. To know I am doing the best I can. To relax and stop trying so hard.

I am wishing the same for you, kind and gentle reader, in whatever way you need that in your life.

Three Truths and One Wish

bigdlittled04

1. Truth: Death is real. And it’s not always pretty. It doesn’t always happen painlessly at the end of a long, well lived and loved, full and finished life, with the one who’s leaving in a comfortable bed with candles lit and soft music playing and loved ones all around. It strikes those who are much too young, it is sometimes accidental, sudden, brutal, tragic. Sometimes it’s just not fair, not kind, not easy. But no matter how it comes, how it goes down, every mortal will go, be gone. No matter how well we love or how faithfully we care for each other, we will lose or be lost.

2. Truth: I am still trying to figure out how to live in a world where this is true, where what we love will die. Where we intentionally allow ourselves to be wounded, invite it, where we strip completely naked and hand the one we love the sharpest knife. I have seen death, understand it, have even felt a sort of peace in that moment of letting go, knowing that loved one has been released from their suffering. And yet, I am still trying to figure out how — how to fully surrender to this truth, accept it, stay open to it. Love unbound from form can feel almost like rage, running wild with the desire to smash and burn and break and scream, longing mixed with a strange confusion that insists someone must be to blame, must be punished, so much fierce energy with no place to go.

3. Truth: We are here now, together, and that makes all the eventual pain worth it. As much as I grieve those I have lost, I would not give up the time I had with them in order to avoid this suffering. And there is so much about this life to love. As I was reminded by one big heart today, when I reached out in my confusion, “and yet laughter and yet barbecued chicken and yet a glass of cold water on a hot day, Louis Armstrong, fresh raspberries,” and another reminded me that Winnie the Pooh says, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Magic is all around, waiting for us to notice and be amazed. On our walk this morning, a butterfly, busy feeding on a flower, let me get closer than I’ve ever been and stayed still so I could take a picture. Ram Dass says “we are all just walking each other home,” and when I can remember that, when I can slow down and see the vivid color and surprise of a butterfly, I feel myself soften, feel the whole tight knot begin to unwind.

One wish: That we stay awake, rather than denying or disconnecting, that we recognize our limitless potential, that we stay open to the connections that heal us, notice the magic and cultivate the medicine.

We are all just walking each other home.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: My body carries a deep wisdom, if only I would listen. And, if I refuse to listen, it will get louder and louder until I can’t ignore it anymore. This became very clear to me this weekend. I spent Sunday morning first in Urgent Care and then the ER. I’d been having chest pains and my jaw hurt for a few days (my body’s gentle nudging that got louder) and I knew that something about it wasn’t right, that I hadn’t just pulled a muscle or something.

It turns out that the sack of fluid around my heart was inflamed — Pericarditis triggered by an infection I’ve been struggling with, (which I was also trying to ignore instead of attend to). It’s completely treatable (steroids and rest), workable, okay, and yet it’s taught me that I really have to trust myself (specifically my body), that I need to listen, to show up, be present, to honor the wisdom available to me. I knew something wasn’t right, my body was telling me in the gentlest but most insistent way, and even though it seemed at first like I might be overreacting, I needed to get help.

My body knows. It knows how much to sleep, how to move, what to eat. If something I eat or do doesn’t work, isn’t agreeable, my body gives me the exact information I need to consider a different choice next time. It is directly connected to reality, this moment, through five powerful senses. It is constantly collecting information and making adjustments — heart pumping and lungs breathing with no need of my intervention, my control, my opinion.

A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us. ~Pema Chödrön

2. Truth: I can trust myself, my physical body, my intuition, my hunger, my longing, my desire, my suffering, my dreams, my fundamental sanity, my innate wisdom and compassion and power, even my emotions and thoughts are allowable and of value. I don’t have to reject, run away, deny, or hide.

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. ~Pema Chödrön

3. Truth: I am so grateful there are people to help, to keep me company as I stumble my way through, poets and artists and healers and friends and family and soft animal bodies, all of us messy but brilliant, clinging to each other on a boat that is guaranteed to sink, making each other laugh and offering comfort even as we crash and burn. Every single person I encountered in my time in various medical units this weekend was so kind and wise, wanting to help me, to help, and in the aftermath, I’ve been offered so much love from the people I am lucky enough to know. I mean it, dear people, this life is fucking brilliant, we are, (I’ve had to stop typing this paragraph twice to cry — is this what “Roid Rage” feels like?).

One wish: That we can continue to ask ourselves, in each moment, the question shared by my dear friend, poet and teacher, the amazing Julia Fehrenbacher, in her ecourse Getting Naked: “what would love do?” (this question has the power to change everything — you, your life, the world), and the additional wish that we have the courage to live the answer.

Three Truths and One Wish

before

Just last week, I was making wishes for space I’d like to create. In that post I said, “My initial response, first thought, immediate wish as I sit at my cluttered mess of a writing desk is to create space here, space for creating, contemplating, practicing. I wish to clean, clear, and organize, to get rid of what doesn’t belong here, what isn’t serving or inspiring me.” For the past few days, I’ve been working on manifesting that wish.

1. Truth: It’s hard to start. At first it feels too overwhelming, there’s too much stuff and too little time. It’s hard to know where to even begin when my space looks like an advertisement for an episode of Hoarders. But I think the Jeff Oak’s quote I shared on my Something Good list yesterday is what finally happened for me: “Breathe until the feeling of being buried brings the need to break open.”

deskhoard

2. Truth: In the end, you just have to start. I knew I couldn’t work in the chaos, so my first act was to take all the things on or around my writing desk and move them into the garage, clean the slate. A few required a quick sort before I could move them, but once that space was cleared, once I got started, I could move around, had a better sense of a plan.

I know this from just about every project or task I’ve ever undertaken — I just have to start, do one small thing, take one tiny step, keeping my focus on the thing directly in front of me, fully present for the doing. When I get close to done with this, the next step is clear, there is a natural progression.

space

3. Truth: When it comes to sorting and getting rid, editing, two questions are helpful:

  • Is this useful? is this supporting the work I’m trying to do, how I want to live? Is it functional and workable, related to my goals and values?
  • Is this beautiful? Does it inspire and encourage me, give me joy and ease simply by being present? Is it precious?

Anything that doesn’t fall into either of these two categories, utility or beauty, has to go — donated, gifted, recycled, or trashed.

peoniesonmydesk02

One Wish: That we all can have spaces where we have easy access to the tools and support we need to do our work, to live our lives, and that these spaces inspire us, fill us with joy and good energy and a sense of peace.

Day of Rest

This is what the river looked like just two weeks ago. The water was low and filled with dark ash from last summer’s fires, green algae growing in the stillness, with a spot in the middle where the bottom was completely exposed, the trees at the edge reflecting off the quiet surface.

To see it this morning was a reminder that things change, ebb and flow, always arising and falling away, constantly shifting, beginning and ending.

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity. ~Gilda Radner

I woke up this morning in the still dark, two warm dog bodies smashed against mine, and I started to worry. I was thinking about all the things I needed to do today, all the things that needed done this summer, all the work and the projects and the play I keep trying to stuff into every minute of every day and how there is just never enough time.

sixpacks

Later on my walk with Dexter, feeling sad about his eventual death, wishing again that it’s easy for him, still anxious about having so little time, I realize three things, Three Truths coming to me a few days early.

1. Truth: That’s really all we ever want for anyone in the end, (including ourselves), for death to be easy.

2. Truth: Dexter carries no sadness about his own death, if he even thinks of it, has any awareness of it at all.

3. Truth: In every way that I am stuck, struggling, not free, I am my biggest obstacle.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns…We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small. ~Tara Brach

As I was walking, I was noticing shadow and light, the wabi-sabiness of the world, of life. Wabi-Sabi is a concept I’m a bit obsessed with right now. Essentially it is acceptance of that which is impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete, and beyond acceptance, being able to see it clearly, to understand it as beautiful, to love it even. This is the reality of our lives if we are brave enough to open our hearts to it.

This stump is wabi-sabi. It is what remains of a tree no longer alive in the way we understand that particular animation, and yet it is surrounded by life, anchored in it, present with it. In this sense, what does death even mean? Where do we begin, where and when do we truly end? If we are made of love, come from love, live surrounded by and imbedded in love, can we ever really be separated? Aren’t we always completely and utterly free?

I’d like to think so. My wish is to believe that, to trust it, to accept it — all of it, with open eyes of full awareness and an open heart full of compassion.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
~Rumi