On failure, learning, and finding your path.

Have patience, and do not hesitate.

When you act, act with certainty. If you are not certain, do not act. Or make yourself certain of this: You will fail. You will fail many times.

Failure does not cost as much as inaction.

Inaction is itself failure.

But even that failure can never be complete. For even in inaction, we have consciousness. And it is the nature of consciousness to try. It is the nature of life to try. To live. To grow.

As long as you are alive, some part of you still knows that it is the energy of potential. Some part of you has caught a whiff of the infinite possibilities beyond your current state of being, and as long as you are alive, that light in you will seek its source.

If you learn to trust the light within you that seeks its source, you will be lead to wisdom. You will find within yourself deep wells of compassion and rich reserves of kindness. In this, you will find joy.

Humble yourself to the inevitability of failure, and resolve to learn your lessons, but come back daily to the spark within you and the well of inner resource. And when right action becomes clear, step forward with the calm certainty of one who has failed before and is not afraid.

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A Prayer on September 11th

I sat down to write this morning before work, and this is what happened.

9/11/17

The date stops me. I planned on writing about something else.

Someone made up a story about who the enemy was and why bad things happen to us, and we directed all our fear into rage and vindictiveness.

“Tears are bullets when they harden,” a line from a Stanley Kunitz poem, turns out to be true (poets always knew).

We have committed the terrible crime of dehumanization. In our own hearts and minds, we have replaced the faces of our neighbors with the cartoonish  masks of enemies. We project our worst fears on them because it’s easier to hate an imaginary enemy than to face ourselves. And we imagine enemies everywhere. And where we imagine them they become real, if only to us, the terrified and deluded.

Wake up.

Let’s pray for our own souls.

Lord save me from my own delusion. Teach me to sit my ego down and look it in the eye. Let me see my neighbor’s true face. I will be brave, and I will act with love. Let us heal this wound.

Amen.

When I was a child, they told us in Catholic school that the word “amen” meant, “I don’t understand, but I believe.”

I don’t understand how we will heal this wound, but I believe that we can and we must. There are 16-year-old children now who were born after 9/11. They have only known a world in which we are at war and are steeped in a culture that believes enemies are everywhere. How do we teach them not to live in fear? I don’t know, but I still believe in trying.

Amen.

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I’ll have to retire that joke.

I was thinking about writing a novel about roller derby using The Lord of the Flies for a structural model because I had made the half-joke more than once that the derby community is sometimes like an all female LotF. I decided to listen to the audio book and take copious notes to understand what made it tick. But it turns out that Lord of the Flies is far too simplistic to do justice to an organization as complex and powerful as a roller derby league. Maybe it’s because LotF is about a bunch of little boys stranded on a desert island and hoping daddy will save them whereas roller derby is an island of women who reach out to one another and give each other shelter in a sea that offers them no rescue. Either way, someone has decided to make a new LotF movie with an all female cast, since re-casting things with women is kindof a trend right now. That’s cool, I guess. A bunch of people are predictably mad about it, but so what? People can be mad about anything, and some things just aren’t worth the energy. It turns out, after re-experiencing the novel as an adult, I find the original to be … unoriginal? Look, I guess Golding was the first to do what he did, so it was original then, but the story isn’t actually that great. It’s annoying, honestly? Like, I am a grown ass lady, listening to 12-year-old boys argue their ego shit for pages upon pages while everyone is needlessly mean to the one boy with a goddamned brain, who also happens to be a clear stand-in for the women who are otherwise missing. Furthermore, Golding’s boys live in an ego/fear-based society. That is, their conflicts are primarily ego driven, and their decisions are rooted in fear. That kind of society is more or less what the majority of modern Western society is already doing, and it’s not working out so well for us. On the other hand, roller derby as a community is pretty different. It’s connection/overcoming-oriented. People don’t just play roller derby. They join a community and they overcome fears and other limitations to achieve something on both a personal and a communal level. Or maybe that’s just me. That’s more interesting to me than the old model of schoolboys on an island, so I guess it’s not an exact match. I’ll have to retire that joke.

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Meditation to Improve Communication

  1. Relax. Maybe exercise first. Get out any excess energy. Sit in a relaxed yet alert posture. Close your eyes.
  2. Bring your awareness to the throat. Try to feel the center of the throat or even the front of the vertebrae of your neck. Take a few breaths and allow yourself to focus strictly on the center of the throat.
  3. Relax your face, jaw, neck, and throat. Imagine this whole area of the body becoming softer, more open. You may even feel some softening or warmth around the heart or third eye, but keep your awareness at the throat.
  4. Maintaining awareness of the throat, imagine the situation in which you most want to improve your communication, and notice how your throat feels. If this situation is stressful or emotional for you, you may feel tension coming back into the face, jaw, and throat. If this happens, go back and relax again. Then return to the visualization.
  5. Try to imagine and even feel what it would be like to communicate openly, honestly, and with confidence.
  6. Practice with compassion! Try not to judge yourself too harshly for whatever comes up. Beating yourself up never makes anything easier, and a little self-kindness can really make the learning process a joyful one. So if you feel fearful about speaking up, take the time to love that part of you that’s feeling the fear. Treated with love, even the fearful student can accomplish great things. 😉

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Truth in a Time of Lies

 

I keep thinking I want to bring back this blog then chickening out because I kinda hate the internet. Sorry. Let me just dip my toe in and see if I can ease back into this…

Here is something I’ve been thinking about lately.

Truth. Duh. We are all thinking about truth, I hope.

When powerful people attempt to make you doubt all previously known sources of truth (i.e. discrediting the media and scientists), it becomes increasingly essential for each of us to be in touch with our own sense of Truth.

Sometimes Truth is very subtle or nuanced. Sometimes Truth is a kind of knowing that’s hard to verbally communicate. Each of us lives a different story and has a different perspective on Truth.

Yet, real Truth runs far deeper and extends far beyond the perceived differences between us. Truth is true no matter what. Truth is not subjective. Truth remains true whether you believe it or not. And truth remains true even when it is hidden.

How can we hold up Truth in a time when powerful people fear nothing more than Truth and wish to tear it down at every turn?

Meditate on Truth. Seek Truth in every moment, every experience, every emotion, every fact, every disagreement. Seek Truth in your own cognitive dissonance.

We are all fighting different battles, and that is how it should be. There are many battles to fight, and all of them are worthy.

Keep your eyes on Truth, and aim to align yourself with it — in action and in word, and even in your soul. Align your heart with Truth. Live Truth so you forget how to lie, how to be anything other than your true self.

Do not adopt someone else’s morals just because he sounds convincing. Use your own power of reasoning, and test what you must to distinguish the Truth. Discard all that is false, even in emotion. Look for truth in your happiness. And if you are brave, look also in your sadness. Look always to Truth, and urge your neighbor to look to her Truth. If her path doesn’t look like yours, still praise her on her way up the mountain.

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