I can't help it. I'm a visionary.
But I’ve always been a sponge. I got the message from a super-early age that since I was emotionally savvy, it was up to me to help heal and fix everyone around me.
I learned that if I try to take on what someone else is feeling, I can help them feel better. For a while.
The thread that connects my intersections is pain. I spent so much of my life optimistically seeing possibility that I didn’t even recognize the pain I was pickling in. Until recently, I didn’t even acknowledge the taste of anxiety, even though I now know that the flavor has been familiar for a long, long time.
I inherited a lot of pain.
Fortunately for me, and for you, I recognized that I needed more information, more training, more understanding. If I am to truly be of benefit and help another human being navigate pain, I realized, I need to understand it myself.
So I dove down the long slippery slide of Buddhism head-first.
There were many layers to my twenty-plus years of training. Probably the first layer was the dance of familiarity. Just gaining clarity about what a path actually is, how to practice meditation, why it’s important to do so, and what the overall path looks like. This beginner’s stage was full of excitement and challenge and discovery. The discovery tasted a lot like coming home to myself for the first time. The challenge smelled like encountering dirty laundry you thought was clean but really needs to be hand-scrubbed. The excitement was the slow reveal of possibility that unfurls when you unclench your fist and discover a pristine little cherry blossom tucked up inside.
I accomplished this first stage of the journey through my tenure at Naropa University and in my study-abroad program in Nepal.
Losing my mother the following year and then living in Nepal again seasoned me into readiness for the intermediate stage of my journey, which happened during my five years living in Boston.
At that stage, I dove in so thoroughly that my entire universe was Shambhala–I cooked, ate, drank, slept and sang every fiber of my life through the teachings and in the community. And I grew mistaken about some of the messages I was receiving.
I kept hearing a familiar restrain from childhood friends who had pushed me away, even though I was so busy “helping” them, that I was too much. That I had to restrain my tears, pull back my excitement, let go of ambition.
I received the memo that the journey itself is about polishing away the impurities of craving, wiping away the blemishes of passion, steam-ironing flat the creases of aggression, and shaking out the cobwebs of sleepiness.
Every moment is an opportunity to be AWAKE!
Now, I see how both brilliant and painful those teachings are. They are brilliant because they are true - we can’t wake up to ourselves without becoming familiar with the habitual patterns that hold us back. But they are painful because if you begin to believe you are supposed to be…anything other than you already are, you’ve missed the mark.
The true inheritance of these mind-heart-teachings, is that we already are exactly who we need to be. We don’t need to change or fix or bend or break. But we do need to be gentle with ourselves. We do need to remember to take care of ourselves as we slowly open.
Many long years of meditation and introspection, deep dharmic reflection, and training honed my ability to bear with the poignancy of pain.
If we don’t sit with it, we can’t learn from it.
If we merely push it away or try to cover it up or excuse it or fix it or change it or ignore it or buy more stuff to camouflage it or put makeup over it or duct tape or a fake plastered smile, we will gain no altitude on our experience.
But if we decide, right now, on this very spot, in this very moment, to change our allegiance to let ourselves actually feel whatever we are feeling, we will allow ourselves the opportunity to tread carefully into the depths.
We don’t have to go it alone. There are many, many friends along the way. And that’s who I have patiently sculpted myself into being.
The tapestry I have been busily weaving these many years is the multi-hued quilt that can keep you warm as you sit on that windy cliff pondering your own mind.
I know who I am.
I know that I’m a beacon. I know that my job is simply to shine, shine, shine.
And I know how to create and organize systems that will magnetize and benefit multitudes.
I will drive up and over all the mountains to see you before you die just so I can tell you how much I love you. And I will allow the pain to rebirth me into a more weary, but more fulfilled version of myself, more ready than ever to dig my heels into the spring mud and spring forward into shining the light on your journey to the great, wide world of awake.