Category Archives: Three Truths and One Wish

Three Truths and One Wish

A flume bridge built by a sugar beet company in Fort Collins to dump waste on the other side of the river, image by Eric

1. Truth: The Universe is pulling me in another direction. It’s the strangest thing to be living your life as usual, pretty much the same as it’s been for years, but to feel a change pulling at you like a strong wind or current in a river. Sure, you can try to go against it if you’d like, but it might pull you apart or even drown you if you do. And the moments that I give in to the pull, allow myself to be carried along by it, I feel a sense of ease I haven’t known in a really really really long time.

2. Truth: My Something Good lists are something else entirely to me. They are a record of all the things I want to dive into more deeply, research and think and write about, but because I don’t have the time or energy for that right now, I share the lists, save the rest for later.

3. Truth: I’m not going to focus on the positive. At a poetry reading I attended last week, poet Ross Gay described joy as something that allowed room for grief, and said it was a practice. I have very little patience right now for those who would have the rest of us ignore the brutal, the terrible in favor of sunshine and puppies. I love those last two things as much as the next person, maybe even more so, but I can’t ignore the suffering that exists. I can’t lie about it or look the other way. Even though it’s tempting, my goal isn’t to feel better or be more comfortable. My mission is to ease suffering, in myself and the world. For that, I have to keep my eyes and heart open, make room for all of it, and help when and where I can.

One wish: May we fully listen and be present for suffering, and do what we can to ease it.

Three Truths and One Wish

Trees and moon

From our walk this morning

1. Truth: Some days I’m worried, and it makes it hard to concentrate. Sam is getting an ultrasound today to see if we can get a clearer picture (literally) of what’s going on with him. He’ll have to be sedated and if they find what they expect, he’ll be getting a platelet injection. The sedation is what worries me, always does. No matter how careful everyone is, there’s risk involved, and it makes it hard to focus on anything else while I wait.

2. Truth: While big things matter, sometimes it’s the little things. I’m thinking in terms of the negatives here, how a collection of small things adds up to something. Like maybe it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal that we shifted from paper forms to an online timeclock for student workers, or because of ongoing construction the closest I can park to my office is half a mile away, or they added chicken to the ingredients of something labeled “Peanut Butter flavor,” or it was windy all night and this morning and will be the rest of the day and tomorrow. Any of those by itself is so small, almost irrelevant, but somehow together they add up to some sort of omen, message, sign.

3. Truth: I love surprising people more than almost anything. Yesterday my nieces were posting on Facebook about Ocean Spray Cran-Pineapple juice, how it sounded good but you could only get it on Amazon. I ordered two jugs and sent it to them. No worries that I’m spoiling the surprise by writing about it here. They don’t read my blog. Another time, a friend was telling me about this Mary Poppins spoon that she’d saved box tops from cereal boxes and sent away for when she was a kid. She ate her cereal with it every morning, but then lost it somehow. I got on Ebay and found one, ordered it and put it in her mailbox at work, anonymously. The surprise didn’t last because when she found it, I was the first person she told, and the joy on my face gave me away. I always eventually confess, just so the surprise doesn’t seem creepy.

One wish: May our worry be eased and our aching hearts soothed by the sweet surprise of love and friendship.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Healing always takes longer than I think it will. This is linked to the habitual way I rush in and try to fix it when anything is wrong. I try to hurry past the discomfort, and I get anxious when I can’t make things right. Like with Sam, I want him to be better as soon as possible, because it’s so hard for me to see him in pain and to deny him some of his favorite things, but his particular injury can take anywhere from two to six months to resolve. And if for some reason he tweaks his muscle again before he’s completely healed, we will have to start all over.

2. Truth: One essential ingredient for healing is rest. In this case, there is nothing to do. It’s all about not doing, being still. I don’t allow enough of it for myself, and that’s part of why I struggle so much — physically, emotionally, and mentally. Even when I’m exhausted, I push myself to keep going, sometimes until the only option is collapse.

3. Truth: We are all living under the shadow of death. When we were sitting on the floor with Sam last night, giving him his cold lazer treatment, Eric remarked that it reminded him of when we had Obi and Dexter put to sleep. We were in similar positions, in almost the same spot where it happened, and I totally understood what he meant. This came right after I was telling Sam we needed to get him better so he could live to be an old dog, and that eight wasn’t old. The whole thing made me think about how death is always right there, for all of us. It doesn’t care what we want, doesn’t concern itself with our schedule or plans.

One wish: May we be patient and gentle and spacious with our healing, allowing the time and effort (or non effort) it takes. And when the time comes, may we have an easy death.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: As a highly sensitive person, it can be hard for me to focus or stay calm. ALL of the information that is floating around in the environment, all the ideas and conversations and emotions and heat (or cold) sticks to me. Rather than being in my own bubble safe from the rest of the world, I’m covered in tiny holes, porous and without clear boundaries, and like a sponge I soak it all in. When I’ve had a day with too much stimulus, I lose my sense of what’s mine and what’s yours. It’s so extreme that if I read a book or watch a TV show where something bad happens, even to a fictional character, I feel it floating just at the edge of my consciousness like a memory of a lived trauma. Let me repeat that — I embody the trauma of others, even when they aren’t real!

2. Truth: This makes service and social justice work incredibly uncomfortable. I can’t easily detach from the suffering of others, and it’s difficult for me to relax or rest when I know someone is hurting, especially if it’s something I could help or even fix. I remind myself of the conventional wisdom of putting your oxygen mask on before helping someone else with theirs, or of that saying “you don’t have to set yourself on fire in order to keep others warm,” but the discomfort doesn’t really go away.

3. Truth: And yet, I don’t shut down, I don’t give up. In fact, I actively do the opposite, continually and regularly practicing to keep my heart soft and open, stay with the discomfort, allow whatever is arising, and cultivate a sense of vulnerability, a willingness to be hurt. I purposefully practice compassion, which is nothing more than being with someone else and their pain, letting it touch you, experiencing it with them. I’d rather be uncomfortable and connected. I’d rather be of some help than none at all. I’d rather make mistakes than not even try.

One wish: May the merit of our practice ease suffering, in ourselves and the world.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Our sweet confused Christmas tree is sprouting buds, thinks it’s spring. Eric hasn’t watered it in a few days, and is planning on taking it down today, maybe even before I get home from work, but she doesn’t know that. It feels like a metaphor for something, reminds me of the way we all continue to move forward even in the face of certain death. And when it’s over for us, we become compost for the next thing that will arise. It makes me feel both so small and so expansive, both so sad and so filled with love.

2. Truth: I’m cultivating patience. If I’d picked a word for last year, that would have been the right one. It was the quality I kept coming back to, the thing that both confounded and comforted me. I had to learn to be content with how long things took, to surrender my irritation when things didn’t work out how I wanted. I’m slowly (slowly, slowly) understanding the wisdom of allowing space and time, of letting go of my agenda.

3. Truth: I have to go back to work today. In this way, in particular, I am practicing patience in the moment. I’m allowing my longing to do something different and the discipline of doing what I said I’d do to coexist. Patience is about being able to stay with what is happening, even if it’s not what I want. It helps me to maintain my effort and enthusiasm in the face of obstacles. It’s an antidote to anger, which is really just a mask for fear.

One wish: May the light of wisdom and the warmth of compassion enable patience to arise.

Three Truths and One Wish

I tried to find the origin of this image, and my best guess is it was made by this artist, Susann April

1. Truth: This year was a fallow period. Fallow is a farming term that means “plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility.” After “the election” last year, I spent time in shock, disbelief. When I came out of that, I was too distraught to concentrate, there was just so much wrong. After the dust settled a bit, I dove into educating myself, reading and taking classes, paying attention. With a fresh perspective, I suddenly was afraid to say the wrong thing, embarrassed that I’d been so ignorant, and didn’t know exactly how to make the shift from writing about my personal stuff to what’s happening in the world, or about how they might be connected. I got confused about my work, about what I had to offer. My weekly Something Good posts were easy to modify, and I could still find things to be grateful about, but everything else felt…weird, awkward.

2. Truth: I’m ready to be more present, more vocal. I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to put my foot in it. I’m going to fuck up. Some people won’t like me anymore. And yet, I’m no longer going to let any of that silence me. My path is one of discovery and devotion, and after a time of contemplation and confusion, that previous truth still stands.

3. Truth: I’ve changed, and I’m more myself than ever. My world view has shifted two clicks to the left, and yet after much deliberation and effort, I find myself exactly where I was. The things that mattered to me still matter, the things I teach are still what I teach, and my mission is still exactly the same: to ease suffering, in myself and in the world.

One wish: May we remember that our worth isn’t always about our doing. May our practice and effort be about being more present and authentic, which also means being more vulnerable. May we cultivate a strong foundation of sanity and compassion in the ways that feel right to us, thus encouraging wisdom and love in others.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: I need a lot of rest. And more specifically, I need rest to recover from effort and engagement. The past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on my body and what would make it feel good. Some of that meant movement (walking the dogs, aqua aerobics, Pilates, and yoga in particular), but some of it meant visits to the doctor, getting a massage, a session with my physical therapist, three hours on the couch with a heating pad, a really long nap, or going to the Farmer’s Market to be sure I had fresh carrots and peaches.

2. Truth: I go back to work next week. To be honest (because this is a post about truth), I’m not sure how that’s going to go. I’m stepping back into a moment in the academic year that is notoriously chaotic, as well as returning to a huge ongoing project that I will need to help complete, and I have a new intern to get settled. I’m not sure how all that will align with my need for rest, my commitment to giving my body what it wants.

3. Truth: I return with a new question. It came to me recently as I was doing my morning writing practice. Forgive me if I already mentioned it, but it came to me that my fundamental confusion rests in this question — Am I denying myself what I’m truly hungry for or am I resisting what is? I’m not sure I can explain, but it’s related to my search for deep meaning in my life, and my growing awareness of my particular energetic requirements. It’s a question about the source of my discomfort, the cause of my dis-ease. So, when I dread going back to work, or I am uncomfortable being there, is it because I really should be somewhere else or am I resisting what is and therefore generating unnecessary suffering for myself in that way? Should I be looking for an exit, or should I learn how to stay?

One wish: May my path clarify my confusion, and may my confusion dawn as wisdom. (Based on the The Four Dharmas of Gampopa).