Category Archives: Three Truths and One Wish

Three Truths and One Wish

tinybook1. Sometimes I need to see myself the way someone else sees me. Sometimes that means I need to quiet my internal critic and see the way someone else loves and accepts me, listen to the way they honor what I do, feel their gratitude and kindness. Other times that means I need to interrupt my ego, its sense of my own importance and rightness, in order to see from someone else’s perspective the suffering I am generating.

2. It’s hard to be wrong. Especially when I try so hard to say the right things, to not make any mistakes, to be perfect. But when I’m wrong I have a choice. I can smash myself to bits or I can be kind, gentle, forgiving. I can try again, not give up, say I’m sorry.

3. “Every time I think someone has a hold on me, I realize I’m the one with the tight grip,” (Courtney Carver). The door to the cage is open, but I sit inside, not moving. In the most gentle way possible, I ask myself to relax, to let go. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

One wish: May we practice honesty but temper it with kindness. Where there is tension, may we release it with our breath, relax it with our willingness to surrender, to let go.

Three Truths and One Wish

image by Eric

image by Eric

1. This is my 1111th blog post on A Thousand Shades of Gray. There’s a particular kind of magic in that number. Some people say that it is “an invitation to open your eyes to the miracles all around that were already there that you weren’t seeing; an invitation to discover the infinite power and wisdom within you that is waiting to be tapped…a general invitation to move toward the inner joy and life fulfillment that’s possible for you.” An invitation to wake up, a reminder that you are inherently wise and compassionate, a request that you pay attention, a sign that you are not alone,

2. God is “whatever lifts your face out of the dirt,” (Elizabeth Gilbert). I find this incredibly comforting, so moving. It doesn’t let me entirely off the hook — it’s still up to me to get up, dust myself off, keep going, but in the moment when I am at my lowest, there is God, lifting my face out of the dirt, keeping me from giving up entirely.

3. I am capable of the deepest despair, but there is something in me that refuses to give up. I’ve never quite understood it, don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s always been there. No matter how hard things get, no matter how much I’ve been hurt, no matter how much I think about finding a way to escape for good, I keep going. It’s something stubborn and determined and certain. It believes that if I can just hang on until tomorrow, hold on for just one more moment or even one more breath, something will shift.

One wish: That when we are at our lowest, we experience the miracle of our face being lifted from the dirt, we know we are inherently wise and compassionate, we remember that we are not alone.

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.