Category Archives: Three Truths and One Wish

Three Truths and One Wish

Art and poetry by Rupi Kaur

1. Truth: Life is suffering. This isn’t something I made up. It’s the first noble truth in Buddhism. We all know this to be true, if we can be honest about it. Sometimes suffering means simple discomfort, like a room that is too hot or loud, or an itch that won’t go away, but sometimes it’s full blown “I don’t know if I can survive this” kind of pain — the kind of pain Jordan Edwards‘s family and friends are feeling right now, or the kind of pain Amy is feeling about Burg.

2. Truth: Everything can change in an instant. No matter what we do to plan ahead, protect ourselves, or prepare, we can’t control or predict the way things will actually turn out. There are just too many causes and conditions for us to have much control over outcomes. We think we are doing just fine, and BAM, the worst thing happens — we leave a party early and don’t make it home, or an ache that won’t go away or a tiny lump turns out to be terminal cancer.

3. Truth: Loving and being loved is an antidote to suffering. No matter how much we love each other we can’t keep each other from suffering but weirdly that means we should just love each other that much more. I keep saying it, but it is still true: life is tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal — keep your heart open. And expect it to break, again and again. That’s the good news and the bad; as big as you love is as much as you are going to hurt. Do it anyway.

One wish: Even knowing how much we are going to hurt as a result, may we continue to be generous with our love and attention, may we keep our hearts open in the midst of suffering and chaos, and may we find comfort in our connection to each other, in the shared weirdness that is being human.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: I’ve been thinking a lot about paradigm shifts. In case you’ve never heard that phrase before it simply means doing or seeing things in a whole new way. It’s a total revolution in your understanding of something you previously took for granted. It’s like having faulty vision and then putting on prescription glasses — suddenly you see things in a whole new way. I’ve been through a few of these in my life, am currently experiencing another and thinking a lot about what it means. One shift for me was away from diet culture, disordered eating, self-loathing, and smashing myself to bits. My current shift is dismantling the existing system(s) of white supremacy, in myself and in the world.

2. Truth: Living a paradigm shift can feel like experiencing the stages of grief, (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). And there is a sort of grief in letting go of an old way of being, entering a phase of discomfort and groundlessness. Initially, you live outside of the old system of understanding without fully inhabiting the new, and it can be lonely in that space. The tug of that old comfort, that worn knowing is strong. For some shifts, in order to view things a new way, one also might experience guilt, shame, and confusion. To fully make the shift, one needs to take responsibility for suffering we’ve generated and also to forgive ourselves. It’s hard work. As Pema Chödrön said,

I used to have a sign pinned up on my wall that read: “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.” Somehow, even before I heard the Buddhist teachings, I knew that this was the spirit of true awakening. It was all about letting go of everything. Nevertheless, when the bottom falls out and we can’t find anything to grasp, it hurts a lot.

3. Truth: Paradigm shifts are complicated. They take much longer than you expect, which means you’ll have to be patient. Also, in unraveling old ways of being and knowing, one discovers a web where the thing that is shifting is connected to other things that also need attention, and it can feel like a real mess, almost impossible. And yet the peace that comes with the change, the relief of letting go, releasing the attachment to things that no longer work or make sense and entering a new clarity, is worth the struggle and effort.

One wish: If you are also experiencing a paradigm shift, may you stay curious, be gentle with yourself, remain patient, stay open to new information, ask for help when you need it, keep your sense of humor, and not give up. And even as it feels like you are standing outside and separate, may you know that you are not alone.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: This isn’t the post I want to be writing. There’s another one I want to write but don’t have the time for right now, inspired by a comment from the other day. The post I want to write is about the difference between being “nice” and true compassion, clarifying what I’m doing here, and the struggle I’m having with how to work with the current state of things and in particular with those who believe I should just shut up about it.

2. Truth: I skipped a meeting today because I knew I wasn’t up for it. I was hungry and cranky and getting a headache and knew if I went, I’d say something regrettable, or say nothing and be equally miserable. Instead, I took myself to lunch, fed myself exactly what I wanted, came back to my office and got back to work.

3. Truth: I taught a yoga class this morning, was subbing for the regular teacher. The people who showed up are people I’ve practiced with for a long time. I had a plan going in, but about 10 minutes in, something else started happening, so I went with it. It ended up being a good class, but not at all what I’d expected. It makes me very grateful to be at a place where I can trust myself. I’ve got three more classes coming up on my teaching schedule, so it’s a good thing to keep in mind. And as my friend Aramati says, “teaching is one part preparation and one part letting go.”

One wish: May we remember that all beings just want to be happy and safe (even though the methods some use to achieve that aren’t wise or compassionate), and may we be able to keep our hearts open while maintaining a sense of stability and sanity.

Three Truths and One Wish (Sort of)

Today, I usually post three truths and one wish. However, I’ve been so busy, I didn’t post last week and feel this week slipping away too. So instead, I’m going to share the last three posts I’ve made to Instagram for April Love 2017, which all happen to be true, and make a wish.

1. Wooden: Some people might consider my practice, my routine wooden, stiff, boring, but for me it’s space, mercy, rest, grace, a soft place to land.

2. Noon. Simply “the view from here” at noon on Tuesday.

3. (One of my) Favorite quote(s): the last three lines of Yusef Komunyakaa’s poem “Anodyne” – – “because I know I was born to wear out at least one hundred angels.” I have the last half of the poem printed out, sitting next to my work desk at CSU, a reminder of so many things – of impermanence, to love myself (“this sac of dung & joy”), that poetry is magic and medicine, that while I may not love my job every moment, it enables me to meet and work with amazing artists and humans like Yusef Komunyakaa.

One wish: May we see what’s really happening, notice and meet reality with an open heart, experience the joy of a small thing, find a soft place to rest when we need it, know comfort, happily get up when it’s time to move again, and never ever ever give up.

 

Three Truths and One Wish

There’s a background story to today’s list, and I feel compelled to share it. I posted the above picture last week to both Facebook and Instagram, with the caption,

Midday snack cause my 2nd breakfast lasted a long time so I skipped lunch but won’t quite make it to dinner. Every time I eat a banana, I still think “fuck you, Dr. A.” (who told me I shouldn’t be eating bananas because they have too many carbs).

If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you’ve heard the story of Dr. A.  You know that I was a disordered eater for 30+ years and had a long term abusive relationship with myself, and all the work I’ve done to heal those things. You know I’d rather be fat for the rest of my life than go back to living that particular hell. You know how I feel about the importance of fat acceptance and how strongly I believe in the Health at Every Size movement. You might have also figured out I don’t like being told what to do.

On Facebook, there clearly was one person who didn’t know any of this about me. I accepted her friend request on Facebook a few weeks ago because she is part of one of my spiritual communities. I almost ignored her request because even though we clearly share some practices and philosophical beliefs, she listed herself as a “weight loss coach.” I knew there was the potential for a problem, but decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. I shouldn’t have. In response to the picture and caption above, she posted the comment, “How many carbs are in those muffins? That snack needs more protein.”

I wish I could say that I replied in a skillful way, one that was kind but made it clear I didn’t need her to comment on what I chose to eat, but I didn’t. I threw a little fit in my own mind, told her off in the secret space of my own head, unfriended and blocked her, and then deleted the comment from my page. What I meant to say was…

1. Truth: Don’t give advice unless someone asks you for it directly. This applies to people you know well as equally as it does to people you don’t know anything about. It is true even if you just so happen to be an expert on a subject, particularly skilled or knowledgeable. Unless someone asks you “what do you think I should do?” or requests your help, stay out of it.

2. Truth: Unsolicited advice is at best rude and at worst an act of aggression. No one asked you. To get involved, assert your beliefs as right, true, and correct, to demand that someone else with a completely different experience comply with your direction — especially when you don’t know their whole story — isn’t helpful. In fact, you might actually be doing harm.

3. Truth: Don’t tell me what to do. People want to be heard, they want the space and support to figure out stuff for themselves. If you can’t help but go around telling other people what to do, maybe take a look at yourself, and focus on fixing what you find there.

One wish: May we trust other people to find their own truths, may we stay out of their way as they do their own work, and may we show up ready to help when we are invited.

P.S. I’ve written about this before.

Three Truths and One Wish

Moon over the Poudre River on our morning walk

1. Truth: This week has been a mix of good and bad. Amy Krouse Rosenthal died on Tuesday. A friend’s dog died on Wednesday. Sam got his teeth cleaned today, which meant going under anesthesia so now he feels weird and is whining and following me everywhere, making me sad for him. I’ve been able to go on the regular morning walks, started Pilates, and will start working with a new physical therapist tomorrow. I’ve felt extra tired all week too. I’m equal parts energized and worn out, both at ease and discontent.

2. Truth: I’d planned to get a lot done this week, but haven’t been able to do much. I’ve had to pay close attention to my energy, to balance my effort with ease. It’s practically Thursday and I feel like there’s so much left to accomplish — and yet I’m okay with sitting in the sun or taking another nap and not getting anywhere near “caught up,” whatever that even means.

3. Truth: This is how life goes. Ebb and flow, feeling at times on top of it and other times buried by it. I can’t stop thinking about what I read the other day, something that Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s editor said about her: “Amy ran at life full speed and heart first.” When I go, I want someone to say that about me, but I also know that to do that, I have to be smart, know my limits, take care, pace myself.

One wish: May we be gentle with ourselves even as we run at life full speed and heart first, and when we go, may we know we are loved and may our deaths be easy.

Three Truths and One Wish

Poudre River, from our walk yesterday morning

1. Truth: I push myself too hard, don’t know when to slow down. In fact, the only way I slow down is to crash, crap out, collapse. I just want so much, want to make things better, love all the things and all the things break my heart and I want to fix all the things. If I know of something that could help, I want to do it right away and not stop until it’s done. And I end up so tired and overextended, way before I even realize I’ve taken it too far.

2. Truth: I know I’m not the only one. So many other women, people I admire and respect and try to be more like, are also running themselves into the ground trying to be good, to show up, to be brave, to make things better. It’s so funny how wholeheartedly I can wish rest and peace for them but somehow not be able to give the same to myself.

3. Truth: Sunshine helps. Naps help. Sometimes sugar and tv even help. Yoga is good, so is more sleep. A glass of cold water is usually a safe bet. Getting told thank you and I love you and you are awesome is also nice. Focusing just on what absolutely has to get done right now and letting the rest go feels workable. Getting up and stretching, moving around is sometimes the key, but other times sitting or lying down does the trick. Sometimes I need to be reminded that I am good, that it’s okay to slow down, to stop even.

One wish: May we rest, may we find ease, may we know that we are loved and remember that we are good, no matter what.