Thursday, August 30, 2012

Signs and Symptoms

When the going gets tough, how do you know? Is it time to fight or time to let go?

This was the question of the week, as I sloughed through my days as thick as post-deluge mud. It's a fierce storm with no eye and no end in sight. These in between places are the moment right before morning, when night is at its deepest darkest and the matches have run out.

Faith tells us to leave the house without a light. Maybe you'll try to bring along a map but you can't see it in the dark and even if you could it would be leading you someplace you aren't even going. You thought you were going there, that was your carefully laid plan, but you know what they say about wanting to make God laugh...tickle Her behind the knees.

In this place of struggle, where nearly every task requires far more strength than normal, one begins to wonder: Is this really what I ought to be doing? Am I being taught perseverance? Am I meant to be shown how hungry I really am to achieve this goal? Or! Are these challenges meant to be dissuasive? Am I being blown off my chosen course in favor of something far more fantastic? Rob Brezsny had this interesting point to make about possibilities:
"The game of tic-tac-toe is simple. Even young children can manage it. And yet there are 255,168 different ways for any single match to play out. The game of life has far more variables than tic-tac-toe, of course. You may be tempted to believe that each situation you're dealing with can have only one or two possible outcomes, when in fact it probably has at least 255,168. Keep your options wide open. Brainstorm about unexpected possibilities."

Over 200,000 possibilities! Well golly, that sure is a lot. And what if a few of those possible paths ended up being entirely more fun and/or beautiful and/or valuable than the one or two I envisioned? But the question still remains...

How do you know?

Do I let go and make room for the 200,000 other possible possibilities to emerge?
or
Do I rise to meet the challenge before me and see my plan through?
and
How do we know if we're doing the right thing? Is there such a thing as a "right thing"?

When I meditate on this, the wisdom that keeps coming to me is "Be Patient." Some people find the unknown to be thrilling. I am not one of those people. I want to know where I'm going but moreover, I want to know how I'm going to get there. Being told to be patient is infuriating.

But it's also unfortunately true. If there's anything I've learned thus far over my lifetime of nagging and pushing it's that nothing happens before its time, and anything that is forced unnaturally into being will simply not last. We have to get down with reality, putting a neutral, honest finger on the pulse of what is real, true and authentic for ourselves and others in every moment.

This sort of clarity can be hard to come by, as seductive as self-deception can be. But if you want to walk the road to real freedom, dishonesty won't do. We get free by digging deep to expose the roots of who and how we are, coming to understand what motivates us and all the ways in which we step in our own way.

Can you be honest with yourself? What is it that you're really hoping to achieve with your plan? Are you running away? Are you looking for power or a sense of control? Approval? Love?

Recently I heard a quote that went something like, "The Universe doesn't respond well to confusion." It's important to understand why you're doing what you're trying to do. Without this understanding, it's hard to move with conviction in the direction of your dreams, or to clarify that this is what you actually want.

After you've decided that, yes, you do want it, push into the challenge. Clearly show the Universe just how hungry you are for it. But also be patient. Our lives are massively complex machines with millions of tiny, interconnected cogs that must be aligned just so in order to create the future. That takes time. You can't rush a masterpiece. And perhaps part of the fun is not knowing how, but just watching with awe as your story unfolds before you.

...at least that's what I keep telling myself.

With hundreds of thousands of possibilities, something is going to happen to you. This I can confidently guarantee. It may not be the something you hoped for, but keep an open mind. Our stories are still being written. We don't know anything about the farthest reaches of the ripples that are rippling today. Years from now we will get to see a bigger portion of the picture and understand why we had to wait so long, why we were told No when we were hoping for Yes, why we took a different route to the bus on that Thursday so many years ago.

Until then, be patient. Things will happen to you. All the things that happened before led you here and prepared you for this. Take a big ol' breath and watch your masterpiece come into being. If it doesn't make sense now, it will later.

Probably...