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Lessons [Aug. 20th, 2006|05:20 pm]
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Things have settled down a bit: Marsha's out of the hospital, the Bush administration has backed off on requiring birth certificates and so on from Medicare recipients, the nursing home actually sent a bill that made sense, ...

Callan says "Education is what you get when you don't get what you want." So the month o' Hell must have taught me something. Let's see:

  • There's a lot of love out there. People from work offered to help, people from my local Reclaiming group, people from hundreds of miles away.
  • Recovery takes a long time at my age. I'm still too tired, and I'm having to struggle to keep from slipping back to old patterns. Unfortunately, staying up too late is one of them, and it tends to be triggered by exhaustion. (Sounds paradoxical, but: too tired, drag through the day, run an hour late by day's end, stay up too late, wake up too tired, ...)
  • I'm not very brave. I spent most of the time terrified, not of imminent bodily harm, which would at least have made sense, but of having to confront people while stuck in a maze of twisty little bureaucratic rules, all alike. Knowing that constant adrenalin production makes no sense in absence of a large carnivore to run away from didn't help.
  • Spiritual work is possible while in a state of constant fear. What I wanted was some way to stop being afraid. What I got was some inkling of what it means to be in touch with the divine: it doesn't wipe out the terror, it doesn't make it an illusion or a test, it doesn't mean that the ordinary concerns of an ordinary life are unimportant. But sometimes, when I remembered (and I had lots of time to remember!), I could touch the joy that underlies this world of struggle. Or that runs beside or through or between the struggles -- in many ways the two seem orthogonal, bliss and struggle, nirvana and samsara, heaven and earth. That's the crux of the lesson, then -- trying to contact this joy in order to escape fear (or anger or sorrow or boredom) doesn't work: since they are orthogonal, the fear stays; and concentrating on the fear hides the joy. The only way it works for me is to hold them both, simultaneously
  • Joy is like sorrow as anger is like fear.I think it's Pema Chödrön who says somewhere that great grief opens up the heart in the same way that being in love does. And joy is like anger as sorrow is like fear: joy and anger impel to action in ways that grief and fear do not. But the feeling of joy and sorrow is of opening, while the feeling of anger and fear is of shutting down.
  • Action is possible while in a state of constant fear. I was not particularly efficient about dealing with the Medicaid problems, and the hospital, and the nursing home's fiats about Marsha's computer equipment, but I did deal with all of them.
  • What equanimity I had was useful. I'd sure like more: if my heart and my belly trusted my head, which knew I was doing a rough approximation to the best I could do, my best could have been a little better, and I'd have slept better at night. Still, knowing that I didn't have to "run in circles, scream and shout" just because I felt that way was a great help.

[User Picture]From: northlighthero
2006-08-21 01:46 am (UTC)
Such beautiful learnings -- I am so grateful for your sharing them. Some of these I can go right out and use.

So often my own experience seems, up to now, to have come with a habitual judgment ... that I can't use _any_ of my equanimity until I have it _all_, or that I can't confront bureaucratic authority until I am completely free of fear (but there seem, at such times, to be so many 'good reasons' to be afraid) ... I am inspired by seeing you do this differently, and with more success.

And on the other hand, when I can gain a little altitude, surrender to God Hirself, see the situation with her eyes ... and find myself almost happily 'going with the flow' ... sometimes other humans have judged my lack of 'fighting back' as 'not caring' ...

I am inspired by you, trudging through as well as you can, observing your own effectiveness and successes, sharing the learnings with the rest of us.

I am inspired by you. Blessings, dear Brother, along with Peace and Love.
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[User Picture]From: angelweed
2006-08-22 03:59 am (UTC)
I am inspired by you, trudging through as well as you can

Yarrow the inspired trudger! I like it.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-08-21 02:00 am (UTC)

On Fear, Anger, Sorrow, Joy

May you

Transcend the fear,
Use the anger,
Hold fast to the sorrow,
Experience the joy.

(Who signed us up for this class, anyway? Do we really need *this much* education?)

Blessings, Esther

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[User Picture]From: bellamagic
2006-08-21 01:44 pm (UTC)

Re: On Fear, Anger, Sorrow, Joy

(Who signed us up for this class, anyway? Do we really need *this much* education?)

Amen, sister. Amen.
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[User Picture]From: angelweed
2006-08-22 04:01 am (UTC)

Re: On Fear, Anger, Sorrow, Joy

Thanks, Esther! Those are useful wishes. May they come to you as they come to me.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-08-27 12:44 am (UTC)
You may feel uncertain, overwhelmed, even immobilized at times, but you are certainly not "not brave." Bravery is not the absence of fear, but the ability to move forward in the face of fear. Which you continue to do, one way or another, despite the obstacles.

I love you.


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[User Picture]From: angelweed
2006-08-27 10:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Lor.

I love you too.
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