a breath away

low tide

A few nights ago, I held a friend’s two week-old baby girl in my arms.

A few nights ago, my ex’s father passed away.

The fact that life and death is just a breath away from each other does not escape me.

“That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate—is always changing, moment to moment.” ~ Pema Chodron 

“…I now feel more awe and wonder than dread of death, and the knowledge of its inevitability gives me permission to do more and more of what matters, less and less of what doesn’t.” ~ Martha Beck

I’m not there yet. I still dread it. But I’m working on it.

wake up, wake up…the time is now…

 

ghosts

Memory

 

Everyone is haunted by something.

Be it love, disappointment, loss, or the ghost of who we are at our core – we are haunted.

Our ghosts can propel us in a myriad of directions. We can run as far as we can, even to the ends of the earth, but the faster we run, the more they chase us down. Some want to possess us; others want to teach us. Sometimes we can’t tell the difference and without question, we run like hell.

I had an older sister who died when I was four years old. I know my mother is haunted by the memory of her and by the other experiences she’s had in her life – some I know about and some she won’t tell me. I cannot remember one single thing about my sister, try as I might. Years and years ago I had a dream about her: She was lying down on the ground and I reached to open a small door in her back. I placed some garlic bulbs in there, closed the door and voila! She sat up and starting walking around. She was alive.

I recently found an old article by Martha Beck about how having a mishap is a chance to expand your outlook. She wrote:

“…shit happens. Randomly. But here’s an amazing human capacity: We can use virtually any experience as a catalyst for hopelessness or growth. We can see the world as if everything is meaningless or as if everything is meaningful. Each of these positions is equally untestable. So we get to choose.
     “We all have the same freedom to find and focus on the meaningful parts of our own misfortunes. Every one of us encounters random events, but we also possess a universal ability to create meaning out of suffering. We can turn a curse into a blessing, tragedy into heroism, loss into gain. Lucky us.”

I know it can be difficult to try to turn something emotionally tragic into something meaningful. It somehow feels…wrong. But I get the essence of what she is saying. Everyone copes in different ways. Whether you cope in darkness, in the light, or go in between the two, grief needs time to move from smothering you to sitting beside you. Eventually, it may reside peacefully, but it never moves out. You simply allow it to be what it is. You allow it to sit in the same room with you. That’s when your relationship to it changes.

This Buddhist practice is ideal, but I know it is damn difficult to do while in it. I don’t like grief and the causes of it. I can see it in people and sometimes it is excruciating to witness and you don’t know when and if they’ll reach for that life preserver.

I have ghosts.

Some are quite lovely, some are bothersome. Some float around, reminding me that I already have a life jacket on: really, love…stop all this flailing around.

My conscious memory does not remember my sister, but because she was a part of my experience, she is a part of me.

And there, she lives.

teamwork

I think Mr. T is trying to smile, but his gold chains just won't allow it.

I think Mr. T is trying to smile, but his gold chains just won’t allow it.

“I love it when a plan comes together.”
~ John “Hannibal” Smith, The A-Team

Me, too, Hannibal, me too.

When I wrote about the different voices I write with, I saw that those voices belong to team of players: joy, patience, irony, love, the real me, the storyteller, the critic & the judge, fear, uncertainty, the perfectionist. And sometimes I forget to be a team leader. Without a team leader, disorganization and anarchy are a stone’s throw away. So what to do? Assemble them together and allow them to bring their individual strengths to the table. Above all, you’ve got to lead the rag tag bunch.

Have you ever watched “Top Chef”? Specifically the episodes in which the contestants have to work in teams? If you have, you know exactly what I’m talking about. A team of alpha dogs will gnash, crash, and jockey amongst each other to rise above the rest, upsetting the potential for a beautiful group effort. A team of peaceful non-combatants with no discernible leader will feel the love, but lose the power of a concise, focused meal. And sometimes there is a loose cannon that upsets any potential balance. They don’t want to play nice. Whenever I see this person on a team, I think, oh no…they’re going to ruin it for everyone…

On my team, this role is played by The Judge. And The Judge never travels without Stewart Martha, the intellectualizing Overthinker, and…where are they?…Fear is around here somewhere. Probably hiding out, as usual, waiting for the imperfect time to jump out and scare the crap out of me. Holy hell, they can be a menacing gang. They are incredibly irritating, mostly when they are allowed to run around, turn tables over, and cause mayhem. Because they know they can.

I’m taking a fresh look at my peeps, my role as a leader, and how to utilize everyone’s strengths and allow them to lead with those strengths. I don’t want to kick any of them out. I need all of them.

I love it when a team comes together.

*this post was heavily influenced by an article written by Martha Beck, The Avengers, and my involvement with the best team I’ve ever been on, where all members set their egos aside to create a strength of One.