All the Way

I wonder,

how far can I take you?

Because I want to go all the way.

I am not sure where all the way is.

I am not sure if I will know it when I get there.

I only know this longing inside me to do it,

to go all the way.

 

When I ask you how far you want to go,

Do feel it too?

That desire, to go as far as you can into this richness we call life.

All the pain, as much as I can take.

And all the sorrow.

The joy, the anger.

To feel fully that no stone is left unturned.

No person unworthy of my empathy.

No wild area unprotected.

 

If you want to come,

all the way that is,

the risk to you is great.

As you don’t know who you will be when you arrive.

And if that feels exciting to you,

to let go of who you are

in order to become who you long to be,

then you are ready

you may have even begun the journey.

 

 

The Bud Within

I can see it,

the bud of possibility within you,

even if you cannot.

This passion from your depths, and our collective history,

wrestles with the beast of normalcy.

Lochness calls you in

from the lakeshore where you built your home.

Moving into the future is death to comfort.

Yet comfort is death to the soul.

Which will you choose?

I see the bud within you.

It needs water.

I hope you know

I hope you know

That I pray for you.

In my own way

With my own prayers.

You live in my mind and heart, in the soft places in my body.

 

I hope you know

How much you have touched my life.

Not the big actions

Or the ones other people know about,

But the ones that only you and I know:

A look in your eye,

A touch of your hand,

A word or gesture, made in response

To a call from my soul.

 

I hope you know

That my life would not be the same without you.

It would be my life and it would be delicious,

But not the same.

For you and I are two pieces of a multidimensional coin

That when reunited makes us stronger than we are as one.

 

I hope you know

That you help me love more deeply, more richly,

You help me see the beauty in simple things.

You help me see the beauty in me.

 

I hope you know

I see you.

when you take this vow

When you take this vow,

be conscious of who I am.

In front of you is the youthful beauty of love,

no matter what my age.

Yet, I am many people behind this veil of passion.

I am this moment in time;

the sunlight on my cheek,

the loved ones at our back,

their tears,

our hearts bursting,

in song

like the birds who greeted me this morning,

my senses awakened to the promise I will make.

 

I too am awakened.

 

When we choose to walk this path together,

we will each sacrifice, like little, tiny paper cuts,

parts of ourselves, who were not consulted about this decision.

Who don’t want a mate.

Anything but that pressure.

Who desire to love when and where they want,

fearful of being bent by and for the will of others.

 

I stand with you in that pain and fear.

 

When you look upon this face, with smiling eyes reflecting your own,

know that I am the pimple faced, shy teenager,

ashamed I am not good enough to be loved.

I will be them again throughout my life, for they live within me.

Do you love this one too?

Brash and impulsive,

disobedient and soft,

tender because I have never been broken.

This one is afraid of you.

Afraid this love that you offer will be taken away,

ripped from me, like childhood,

a safety and way of seeing, that I can never return to.

 

I vow to love and protect all parts of you.

 

As our hands touch,

and I feel your warmth and you mine, and a tingling grows in my groin,

know that I am the remorseful parent,

who has just scolded their child,

afraid of the harshness,

the cruelty of the voice that emerged from the depths of generational history.

Not wanting to be that person, and deeply grieving that I am.

Will you still want me then?

When I scorn you because the wound is too raw.

 

Yes, I will still want you. I will wait for you.

 

Speaking these words, and seeing that sparkle in your eyes of deep creativity and truth,

remember,

I am someone you may hate at times,

ugly and harsh,

demanding and proud.

Someone who could forget,

in my pain

and destroy something precious.

Will your eyes shine for me then?

When you feel the hate, and can’t get the image out of your mind.

 

My eyes will shine for the possibility that lives in you.

 

I know a secret.

You too are all these things.

The old mammal, sad at the continuous loss of competency,

feeling,

you can’t even remember what you feel for me.

Yet I am someone you know,

or maybe not.

I will still love you then.

This is the promise I make today.

When I am old too, and pained, and cleaning up your shit,

and feeding you from a spoon as you shrink from the world,

I will remember that you are the strong and fierce protector of our love.

This one who knowingly commits, today, to a life by my side.

This one, who has gone on before the body.

This one who leaves behind stones unturned on an overgrown path because you chose to walk a path with me.

 

To this I say yes.

I take this risk to be with you.

The possibly of being broken, of having my will bent, of smiling at you when you don’t know my name.

Because this path that we are on is our life.

And I want to live it.

Fully.

With you at my side.

And that sensation in my groin.

With a full heart.

And sunlight on my face,

lit from the passion of our love,

the voracity of our anger,

the depth of our joy

and striding, into the unknown, fearful, but strong, together.

Who would we be if we were enough?

To be oneself

is the truest gift we can give the world.

At the top of the world in a vast plain of white as far as the eye can see, there are snow ghosts – trees covered with snow and ice that, when the light is low, as it is in winter, resemble odd shaped creatures. This tree phenomena is native to this part of the world, only lasts through the season, and then disappears – like a ghost into the night.

snow-ghost

The snow ghosts are hunched over and frozen into shapes not natural for trees in other seasons. The trees underneath however, are made stronger through bearing this burden. Bent into different ways in different years depending on the way the wind blows, the snow falls or the ice forms in combination with the cold weather. They take on a shape and hold it, for months.

When spring comes, they shed their burden and rise toward the sun – maybe broken here or there, maybe bent and gnarled, maybe they have held the burden unscathed. Whatever the outcome, they purposefully occupied space with the whole of their being, not begrudging the burden they had to carry through the winter, and patiently waiting for the spring thaw.

Like the snow ghosts, we as humans are often faced with burdens to carry. Some of us accept it as something that will last forever and shape ourselves to carry it, never recognizing spring. Others wonder why we have been given this burden and do our best to out run it or give it to someone else. Still more are broken by the burden and discarded as such.

All living things have a purpose, like the trees. Yet our purpose is often not communicated in a language we can easily understand. And, to know our purpose with any certainty, it usually takes following a path and bearing the burdens which are ours to bear. Which can be incredibly uncomfortable and leave us oddly shaped or broken.

As humans, we are blessed with the power of complex thought, the ability to observe ourselves and the world around us, and a capability for action different from that of the trees. Yet, I often think even with our infinite capacity for wisdom, the trees are far wiser.

There is a stillness, acceptance and sense of community that the trees have which we have had conditioned out of us. We are culturally driven to produce something, to offer value to the world, often at the expense of others and the world around us.

We have lost sight of the benefit of a forest, trying to grow our own tree instead.

I think our drive to ‘do’ blinds us to the value we bring by simply being who we are. We may not win the game we thought we entered, yet if we are aware, we might notice that we are still moving the ball down the field.

The ability to be oneself means, accepting who we are, faults and all, and doing our best to live into the person we want to become. This is what the snow ghosts do, year after year. And this acceptance makes them stronger.

How would we differently bear the weight of our doubt, worry or fear if we knew eventually the spring would come to thaw out our burden?

How can we learn to trust the rhythm of life with its ebb and flow and realize the burden is an essential part of our growth on the path?

Who would we be if we were enough?

If you want to explore these questions, invite perspective. Our visioning program might just be the next step for you.

 

Tap into your potential. Your life is the message.

Humans have a deep and broad untapped potential. A potential that is simply a choice away. The choice to see the human behind the words, the positive intention behind the action, the pain behind the smile.

The world needs your untapped potential right now.

Yet, if it is only a choice away, why is it so hard to choose?

We are creatures of habit. If we practice something long enough – a pattern of thought, mood or action – our brain creates a habit of action loop within the body.

Our brain and body are driven by efficiency anchored in survival. With a habit of action loop in place, the body and brain can move onto new or more vital to our survival thoughts, emotions or actions.

This habit of action loop is called an automatic reaction. It happens without the brain and body needing to communicate, they have automated the reaction: when this sensation happens, this emotion gets generated and these are the thoughts we have. It is very efficient.

Automatic reactions happen below conscious thought, at the level of the autonomic nervous system, beyond conscious manipulation for most humans who have not tapped into their potential.

They begin at the level of sensation either through our five senses or internal mechanisms for sensing like our internal organs, which triggers a series of signals in our body and lead to an output of thought, mood or action, usually all three. Often, we don’t even know we are reacting. But the people that know us do…

Automatic reactions are not necessarily bad. They have kept our species alive and thriving for millennia.

Yet, when we want to access more of our potential, we must make a choice to respond in a way that is different than our automatic reactions. The act of choosing something different is downright uncomfortable, not only for us, but for others around us, even if they have been asking for it for years.

Our automatic reactions came to us honestly, as they had for our parents and generations before them. We learned them through watching, listening and shaping ourselves to be like those that we lived with in our early years.

We do this to belong, feel safe (even if actual safety was not possible) and have a sense of significance within the system.

Challenge is, most of our family systems lacked foresight into the thoughts they shared, the moods they generated, or the actions and behaviors they displayed. This was seen as the “just way we are.” Or in other words, this is all we know how to practice.

They did not know that through practicing something different, they could change. Or maybe some did, and they changed and probably left the reach of the family system, left what was familiar, to do so.

What is required of us now, is to expand into our untapped potential. Which means understanding our automatic reactions and choosing new thoughts, deepening our emotional capacity – to feel more through expanding our range and depth of emotions, as well as the ways we express them through our actions.

As I said above, this choice is downright uncomfortable, and not simply for us. Most of us live in a system of people. If we change, they are forced to either change, stay the same or leave. Their reactions to our choice add to the discomfort. Even if our choices are more in line with the generative behavior the people in the system asked for, they will likely not be psyched, as it means their role is shifting, and so too must they.

Yet, to have our life be the message, as Gandhi aptly described, we must start getting comfortable with discomfort.

Here is a start. Think of someone you disagree with or dislike or have even more intense feelings toward. Collect in your mind all the ‘wrongs’ this person has done that you have witnessed or heard about. Really feel into this person.

What reactions – start with sensation – happen in your body when you do this?

Think temperature, pressure, movement or location of the sensation.

Write this down. Do not dismiss these sensations. Write them down.

Here is what happens for me, as an example: I feel a constriction around my heart. My breath gets shallow and less full. My eyes narrow, I can see less, literally lose my peripheral vision. My throat constricts and feels dry. My pattern of thought narrows. I feel mad, and sad and afraid. Tears well up in my eyes.

Remember you are beginning to be comfortable being uncomfortable to tap into your potential as a human.

Now, in your mind change your perception of them. Hold onto the idea that they have dignity, significance and value. Give them equal status to another that you respect.

What reactions happen in your body when you do this?

Write this down. Do not dismiss these sensations. Write them down.

Again, here is what happens for me: I feel sad. I think about protecting them. My chest cavity feels expansive. I can feel my feet on the ground. There is a pulsing of energy going down my legs.

Do not judge your body reactions, simply label them. “I feel hot – that means I am mad” – no, it means you feel a heat in your body. Where do you feel the heat? “In my face.”

When we feel our sensations without labeling them as a thought or emotion, we are beginning the process of tapping into our potential – it is our potential for objectivity. For seeing ourselves and others as human, flawed in unique ways and still worthy of love.

Why is objectivity important?

Because in a longer horizon of time, the way we act now has a morphogenetic impact on the rest of society. It we continue to react in habitual ways, we will be fortifying the current structures that bind us. If we CHOOSE in every moment, to pause before we react, and then make a new choice, we can take an active role in creating the world we want to see.

Viktor Frankl, who survived the Holocaust, stated, “Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Choosing our response is an act of revolution. Just the revolution we want to see, not the one that we think we are supposed to have.

It takes 300 repetitions to establish muscle memory, 3,000 to embody the action – doing it without needing to think – a habit of action loop, and 10,000 repetitions to reach mastery. You have done one rep. You are on the path.

You are a master at your automatic reactions of thoughts, emotions and actions. Have you been practicing what you want to become the master of? Or have you been practicing what you learned?

If you want to take action in the world in a different way, yet cannot seem to sustain the change you desire, do not worry. This is one of the hardest changes to make. As it is a choice, not a forced march. Again, you have done your first rep.

Need more support? Invite perspective. We love being able to practice with others to tap into our potential and yours. We need all the potential we can get right now if we want to be the change we want to see in the world.

Inclusion means including all people, even Trump supporters

Whether you are a Republican or Democrat or classify as something different, whether you are a Trump supporter or not, whether you are black, LGBTQ, a citizen or an immigrant or both, there are fundamental similarities that we have first as humans and second as Americans.

Today, I was heading to my car in front of the house. Our neighbor, who we have lived across from for a few years, was heading out to her car as well. I asked if she was marching tomorrow. She said, “I am a Trump supporter.” I said, “Well, have a great day.”

And it struck me. I thought this march was about inclusion, yet she feels that because she supports Trump she is excluded. She is a woman. The march is for women, yet she feels excluded.

I felt sad.

This realization touched at the heart of the divide in America and the world.

Though we deep have fundamental similarities: the desire to be safe, belong and have dignity – she felt none of those with me, her neighbor.

Now, I don’t know that is true in totality. I am making some broad assumptions about how she feels from my perspective if I was in her shoes: the minority, as far as I am aware, in my north Seattle neighborhood.

And I thought, minorities are who we are trying to include, even if they are Trump supporters. Why are we not broadening our perspective?

Today in the Mark Nepo Book of Awakenings there was a story about a monk who was always complaining. The teacher who was tired of hearing all the complaining asked the student to go get some salt. The student returned with the salt. The teacher asked the student to taste the salt and report how it tasted. The student said, “Bitter.” Then the teacher walked the student to a lake and asked the student to put the salt in the lake. The student complied. The teacher asked the student to taste the water and report how it tasted. The student said, “Fresh.”

The teacher replied, “The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is enlarge your sense of things…Stop being a glass. Be the lake.”

Be the lake. I thought this was apropos for the inclusion march tomorrow.

If we only include likeminded people, how is this inclusion?

How will we ever grow into our full capacity as humans and see what we are truly capable of?

What is the larger story where we all can fit together?

With all of our capacity as humans, why are we not using it in this trying time.

The Dali Lama, and others like him, have found ways, through practice, to expand their consciousness, to include, listen and understand – not necessarily agree or give up their dignity – but to see the dignity of another, that they, and their opinions, have worth and value. That they are worthy of belonging.

And as I said above, that is a basic need of human beings. A way we can feel safe. And open to the true potential we have only scratched the surface of.

I am practicing daily to expand my ability. It is hard work. Letting go of my opinion to truly hear and see another. Letting their opinion have equal weight in my mind. I feel physically and mentally exhausted. Some part of me wants to be like I have always been and fight back. To rage and share all the reasons they are wrong. Yet this does not feel true for me anymore. It feels counter to the more beautiful world my heart knows is possible.

So, I will not fight.

I will stand for what I believe in.

Yet I will not do so by taking the dignity of another.

I will expand my capacity to understand – what happens for me and what happens for them. This, as I said, is not an easy path. But through practicing, I have found more softness in myself, and been privileged to see the softness in others when I let go and open.

So tomorrow, I will seek to understand. Not only my fellow marchers, but all people of this beautiful city. For someday, we may really have to rely on each other. And I better start practicing now. Because when that day comes, it will be too late, and we will be too overwhelmed to do anything that we have not been practicing.

Need to learn some new practices on how to be the lake? Invite perspective.