Hold it loosely

Things are as they are. Yet sometimes there is a reaching in us, a grasping, to be right. Sometimes we churn ourselves up when another tells us what is right with that we think is wrong. Inside, we object to their opinion. We are angry that they feel they have the right to tell us what is right. And we bear that anger with us as we carry on with my work. We carry our work and our anger in our tightened fists.

But of course they have a right. The have as much right as anyone else who wants to express themselves and appear as if they come from a place of knowledge. Why should their right upset us so? Why should their opinion trouble us?

It is because we are holding on so tightly to what we feel is ours.

But it is not ours.

Then we get angry at our anger. And we beat ourselves up for not being able to be benign.

But everything is as it is, without meaning. Everyone is trying to make their best way in the world. Everyone is trying to make their mark. So let them.

Why should their mark even slightly affect the way that we are going?

People try to quarrel with you. Leave the quarrel with them. Agree with them, or not. But do not take the quarrel with you when it is past. For they do not do the same.

We must learn to hold it loosely, or else we will perish.

Published in: on January 8, 2013 at 11:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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Every path is beautiful

On the first day of the Camino.

We set off from Tuí, after spending a night in a hotel. We didn’t sleep much, though we were in extreme comfort. We were too excited. We live completely sedentary lives, both sitting at computers during the day. I was filled with trepidation about how I would handle the 16km before me. I did not know if I would flake out in my boyfriend, if I would beg to go the rest of the way by car. I did not know if it would take me all day to cover the needed distance to get to the albergue. But it was 7 a.m. and it was time to go and all we had was the road before us.

And what a road it was.

Walking through Tui with the sun rising before us was the most beautiful thing. The little houses and the quirky roads and tunnels filled us with delight. We saw the first of our little shells and arrows that would come to be the most important thing that we had on this entire trip. We smiled and took pictures as we entered the Camino and chatted and joked as we walked along our first stretch of main road, after walking through fields of green. We left that main road and were immediately enchanted by the first of three important streams that would define what this Camino meant for us. We met the first of our fellow travellers at the first stream, but we were yet strangers and didn’t know what else to say other than ‘Buen Camino’. We washed our faces in that stream, stood on the most beautiful bridge and my heart was aching with joy as the green, the sunlight and the water sang to me. I could hear my entire life and the lives of all humanity on the ripple of the stream. I could smell the Universe in that green. My mind exploded, a tiny, gentle, slow motion explosion of nothingness. I had nothing else but to be here, to be with my love, to love and to walk. Standing on the stony bridge, what I called the ‘Hobbit Bridge’, I felt my feet on the Path. No angels sang, no heavens opened, but I felt love. And I felt my mind empty of everything.

All I wanted to do was walk.

There are times when we are so caught up in the bustle, when our mental chatter is so loud and constant that we become swept up in raging torrent of noise and to-do lists and ambitions and insecurities and stress and fear. At those times, if we can, we might find it useful, almost life-saving, to snap our minds back to where we are.  We can look at our feet, one falling in front of the other, and listen to the sound of their steps, on the pavement, up the stairs. We can concentrate on going faster, going slower, evening out our speed. We can bring our minds only to walking, and in doing so, we can let our minds rest. In doing so, we may find, that in our present moment, there is nothing else to do but walk. Walk, and be where you are.

Published in: on October 1, 2012 at 9:45 am  Comments (1)  
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Breathe without asking – W. H. Auden

An extraordinary thing happened to me the other day.

I asked for help. And I got it.

There are a lot of times where we have the conversation on our own. We know we have a request, and we stall it in our minds and our hearts, because we already know what the other is going to say. We know all the excuses, reasonings, counterpoints and arguments that will be put to us as to why our request is going to be denied. We attribute laziness, unwillingness or lack of humanity to our ‘askee’, ascribing to them all manner or personality which makes them one which does not grant favours. Perhaps our recent and not so recent past has taught us that if we ask for something we are seen as a nuisance, a bore, a busybody, or just plain troublesome, or our requests are deemed too trite to action. And so we sit with our wanting, stewing in our frustration and dissatisfaction, trying merrily to reason ourselves out of the need and failing miserably.

It is sometimes easier to just ask.

It boils down to the basic matter of trust. We have to trust that the other person is going to listen without attempting to prejudge their actions or intentions. We have to trust that one person is different from the next. We have to trust that we can know when it is right to ask and when it is beneficial to try to figure out the answer for ourselves. We have to trust that whatever the outcome of the asking, there is a a greater good to be derived from the encounter. Your resourcefulness may be tapped, your creativity called upon, your humility tested and proven.

Or you may just get what you ask for.

Published in: on September 28, 2012 at 10:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Someone else’s story

The next time someone cuts in front of you in a queue, the next time someone bumps into you, takes the last of something off a shelf, joins in the group, drinks and leaves without paying, and you feel that rage bubbling up in you, feel that indignation rising, know this…

That person did not do anything to you.

Most times, unless a person has particularly malicious intent, people do not have you locked in their sights, hoping to do you harm. Even if the person has malicious intent, it is their own pain that is the source of their intention and you just become the unwitting recipient.

You are not the centre of other people’s stories.

The annoyance you suffer stems from the fact that you feel someone has broken some personal rule, some individual code of conduct. Someone has broken the rules. The difference is they are YOUR rules. You are failing to recognise that they have their own code by which they are living, and that they are the centre of their own story. You feel slighted because they are not the centre of yours.

The next time the quiet frustration and sense of injustice bubbles up, take a moment to breathe. Breath reconnects us to our centre, reconnects us to the very source. Follow your breath in and out. And as you exhale, let love carry on the breeze. Love yourself enough to not give yourself anxiety to hold over things you cannot control. Love the other person, because everybody needs a little bit more love coming their way, whether they know it or not. Love the situation, because it has brought you back to yourself and to the awareness that there are other people in the world who exist with you, each making their own stories, each adding to the colour and richness of daily experience.

Take responsibility for your authorship. What will be the quality of the lines that you are adding to your and someone else’s story

Published in: on September 26, 2012 at 9:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Do you hear the people sing?

What do people hear when you speak? As a matter of fact, what do people hear when they see you coming?

It is a well known fact that, based on your past behaviour, people will already start to hear what will come out of your mouth, the tone, the content, the language, long before you utter a word. You know this by the attitude that they take on when you approach. Observe the next time you go up to someone to ask for something. What’s their body language saying? Are they happy to talk to you? Do they take on that professional glaze, a pinned on smile and glassy eyes, because they know it is their duty to listen but they would rather be elsewhere? Do they become impatient and closed down when you call their name?

And if they do any of these things, why do you think that is?

If all you ever do is go to a person to complain, if all you do is pour your heart and soul out to one person, listing your litany of woes and trials without engaging the other, if all you ever do is boast about your accomplishments because you know that the person will listen, because they always do, then what do you think the physical, emotional and psychological response of the other person will be when they see you approaching?

What is the noise you make when you go through this world? Is it a joyous one, that helps to lighten the mood and bring a smile to the other person’s day? Is it one full of sexual energy, that makes one half the population sit up and swoon and makes the other half regard you with scant courtesy or at least regard you as trite? Is it a weary noise, a constant dull hum of woe and worries, that sucks the energy of the listener, deflating them at the mere sight of your lips poised in preparation for speech? Is it an angry blare, that causes the other to tighten up and ready themselves for the onslaught of war?

You are responsible for the song that you bring into this world. And, of course, we cannot sing the same song at every moment of our lives. But we can have a predominant sound. And it is that predominant sound that people respond to, it is that aural aura that surrounds you that reverberates with the other souls whom you encounter.

What is your song going to be?

Published in: on June 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Space Between

There is a game I like to play.

At the moment I work in London’s fashionable West End doing a show. This means that I am often trying to get to work when people are rushing home after a hard day’s toil and trying to head home as folks are spilling out of the pub. Therefore I am always walking against the tide. It also means that invariably, three or four people will walk right into me, some just because they are hurrying and not noticing, and some violently and deliberately because they are hurrying and determined. Some even yell at me after they have ploughed straight into me, for my pains and the fact that I dared exist in their path. But that is by the by.

And so I have this game.

It depends on how I feel. If I’ve had a particularly stressful day, and I am not being present and mindful, and ill mood is getting the better of me, then I will look up and all I will see are the crowds. Then the onslaught of bags and irritation will begin almost immediately, as my foot hits the train platform and my mood will not be improved by the end of the ten minute walk to my theatre. However, if I recognise that we are all one, if I wish my fellow man well, and pray to lighten their burden of stress and worry, then I can alight from the train, look up towards the sea of bustling bodies and remind myself, “Look for the space between.”. More often than not, a path appears, bodies do not collide and I can get make the journey from station to theatre and back again with faith that we have a common goal, to get where we are going, without injury to all of our being.

it is a common enough modern problem, not being able to see the individual thing for being overwhelmed by the sum total. But, have you ever deliberately taken the time to separate out the tasks, problems, ideas and to recognise each thing as standing alone. And after you have done that have you ever used the space between those things to breathe, to solve, to find your way to the end product. Even when the space between is minuscule, it is still there, waiting to be noticed.

Waiting to be filled by you

Published in: on January 21, 2012 at 1:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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