How this all began
In time, and always just at the right moment, a teacher or maggid arrives. He may manifest in many ways, as old Kabbalistic documents indicate. One may not see him more than once, or realize one has known him all his life. It can be one’s grandfather or a fellow student, the man crossing the sea with you on a boat, or someone you thought a fool. He may arrive at your front door or already be in the house.
- Z’evben Shimon Halevi, The Way of the Kabballah
I’ve had the good fortune to recognize many of the teachers in disguise who cross my path, and learn many of the lessons they offer. These are the magical moments for me; the feeling of everything clicking into place and clarity setting in, suddenly sharpening my view. These teachers are the delivery boys of the universe, mysteriously coming into our experience at precisely the right time, bringing us sage wisdom and perspective. Gifts from your higher self, if you will.
We each wear different hats, play numerous roles in our lives. “I’m a father. I’m an athlete. I’m sick. I’m a singer. I’m an businessman. I’m a mother. I’m a doctor. I’m an addict. I’m an artist. I’m a failure. I’m a writer. I’m a soldier. I’m a teacher ” etc. Many people feel strongly connected to one role in particular. Like a touchstone. Everybody has that one hat they’re always wearing underneath all the rest. Like a foundation. What’s yours? Some people sense their purpose there. Their lives take form and arrange themselves about that role…that impetus. Those people know why they are here; they can sense it. Well, I am a student. Eager to learn, and share what it evokes from me. Perpetual motion stirring swirling out from the center of me, diffusing throughout my being. Unquenchable thirst for knowledge – driving me, drawing me, propelling me. Sometimes compelling urges, other times little flickers of impulse to be mindful of or not. Elegantly guiding me through life’s mysteries. I learn from my colleagues, family members, friends, lovers, strangers on the phone or in line at the store. The man on the the boat or the fool at my door. Follow your intuition and see what happens. The seeds of life are found in the trials of your loved ones. And they are in the challenges that present themselves to you. Cultivate a seed once in a while – you’ll be astounded by what grows! Serendipity, synchronicity…alignment, fulfillment. I’m always humbled by how it is I’ve come to arrive at this knowing. Especially considering where I came from, and not so very long ago either.
For as far back as I can recall I felt like an outsider. Back then I couldn’t put my finger on it, however it all seemed to stem from the nature of my inner-most thoughts. My inner dialogue nagging me with deep questions, while the world around me seemed disinterested. One after another, nonstop, perpetual questions… “Why are things the way they are?…Why am I the way I am?…Who am I really? What’s this all about anyway?…I know there’s a reason for this tragedy, something that serves me, but what?…I’m sorry he died but why are they upset with me for not crying? Why should they expect me to feel upset anyway? It seems so unnatural…Why do I keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again, when am I gonna learn my lesson already?…What is that missing piece of information that, if I had it, I’d understand and feel better? I feel it close by, but where?…Has the world gone mad? I’m surrounded by ‘grown-ups’ who are obviously so misguided and wrong about a lot of really important stuff…yet they make all the kids follow their lead, and nobody is stopping this!… If it’s so obvious to me, why can’t they see it?… How can this possibly be? “ What made me feel so different from everybody else was the ceaseless asking of questions like these, and the unyielding drive to find answers.
For years I searched…but without direction. I felt like I was groping around in a dark cave, stumbling because I couldn’t see, yet I could sense there was light just beyond my view. It’s difficult to find the words, but, it felt like there was a different “me” inside of me. The real me, pushing to burst through the murkiness and simply live out loud, fire ablaze! That me has the answers; she’s got it all figured out. I wanted to be her and I knew I could be – knew part of me already was – if I could just find my way home to the center of myself. There was something much better waiting for me right around the corner, I could feel it! But where the hell was the corner; I couldn’t see. I knew of other people who had it all figured out, like they had their own personal torch lighting their way through the cave and out into the party. Each of their own burning questions, passions and desires, one flame of their torch. I was just looking for some light. I simply wanted to get my bearings and find a way into the life I should be living. It was calling me. There were times, though, when I wanted to give up. I tried to, even. No matter how hard I tried, though, and no matter how many times…in the end I couldn’t ignore this mysterious force so compelling. I didn’t want to.
Plagued by the quiet desperation of day-to-day blind living. Unfulfilling work, unsatisfying relationships, difficult break-ups, money woes, issues with family members…you know, typical stuff. In the background always grabbing my attention, a glimmer of hope. I innately knew that it didn’t have to be this way. During serious low points the drive to find answers – solutions – grew stronger and more insistent. It was often during those times when I felt the most like a fool, though. For the harder I tried, the harder I fell. Every time, a crazy kind of something inside wouldn’t let me give up. My resolve was only strengthened. I tried a different, more creative way the next time…and another fall on my face. Frustration! I tried to acquiesce, to resign myself to living in that cave, to learn to love the dark. I tried to stop asking stupid questions and live my life “the right way”, the conventional way. I’d tell myself, Just do learn to keep your mouth shut and do what they want you to do. Just act the way you’re supposed to act, don’t rock the boat, make them happy, and learn to deal with it. Otherwise you’ll just suffer. After all, it seems to make everybody else happy, so why not you? Just who do you think you are, anyway? Get off your high horse already and get with the program! Well, it never took. I inherently knew how wrong “the program” was. And I knew how right I was…I just didn’t know what it was, exactly, that I was right about. Trying to be the go-along girl the best I could, while battling my own inner rebellion. I’d lick my wounds, heal a bit, muster up some courage, venture out, try again, stumble, and fall on my face. But I could sense I was getting closer! To what, I had no idea. All I knew for sure was that I just was not living the life I was supposed to….yet! Simply being in that dark cave seemed so very wrong. My home was waiting for me in the invigorating, refreshing world shining brightly just beyond the cave’s mouth. I longed to breathe in that light air and become it. I wanted out badly! Then, everything began to change.
I started to figure out that for every hardship I suffered and battled through, I learned something. And if I didn’t pay attention the first time, it always came around again. If I still wasn’t aware, I repeat the same mistake all over again. I knew I’d suffer until I learned. But who wants to suffer? Not I! I learned to recognize the lessons early in the game so I could get on with the business of learning them. The reward of each challenge – if successfully met – was the unearthing of another part of myself. Some parts were once familiar to me and had been forgotten along the way. Others were new and fascinating! The more pieces I put together, the more answers came into view. Battling through the storm I sought the sun shining behind the clouds. I spotted glimmers of light in each cloud’s silver lining, and followed them home to truth. Eager to meet the next teacher! Lesson by lesson, more light was shed. Piece by piece I put myself together. A mission began to develop. I was on the hunt for the source of the answers, the core flame that keeps the torch burning. Then I found it! And it blew my mind.
Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I realized that all I’d been searching for was found within me all along. I had learned to light my own way, unable to become lost again. Indescribable relief – I’m not in the dark anymore! I write this blog to celebrate and explore! I write to stretch out and spread out. I write because I always wanted somebody to show me the way, to light my torch, to answer the burning questions forever igniting within. I write to shed light on the shadowy depths of my own soul. I write for the frightened child inside, still fumbling around a lonely cave. I write to take her by the hand and walk her down a distinct path. I write to put the fire in her hands. To teach her how to become the person she always knew she was…So she can look as far as she desires into the world around her…or into the recesses of my own essence. And this writing I do, is like a beacon, guiding myself home. I write for the vulnerable side, for the child inside. And I write for the sage too.
Emerson said “The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.” Indeed! Oh the thrill of it! Imagine knowing above all else that there is always at least one flame that will never go out, always casting enough light to for you to get your bearings. Even though we all lose hope at times. We fall from grace and nobody is spared. The fire inside sometimes gets smothered…but never completely. And when you learn to find that fire for yourself, well baby you’ve got it made. It’s an awareness; a perspective, that’s all. I live for the finding of the answers, for the asking of the questions, for exploring the ever-evolving pieces of me. I feel this appetite dwelling within me like a swirling pool of flame. Bubbling fizzy and soft from the inside out of me. It breathes through me into the world and its delightful! There are moments when I suddenly become aware I’ve been smiling for hours and didn’t know it. I laugh easily. Intermittent bursts of giggles throughout the day. Automatic. No longer haunted by worry, fear, insecurity. Only peace at the core of me now. Have you ever found yourself naturally smiling while your mind was quiet and still? Do you ever have moments like those? Do you remember what it feels like when you’re not doing or thinking about anything in particular, and you simply feel happiness all on its own? Did it happen last week? Early last year? Perhaps during times of your life you haven’t thought about in a while? Do you have to stretch your mind to get a sense of it? It wasn’t so long ago that I had to stretch. A lot! But you know, a gentle stretch now and then feels sooo good!
We’re all in pieces, you know. Whether they’re scattered on the cave floor or perfectly put together in the sun outside. We choose which parts of ourselves we show to others. You are probably a very different person with your mother than you are with your best friend. You may even be different around different types of friends. We also choose which parts we allow ourselves to see, and which we turn away from. The most important parts are the ones we tend to ignore. Therein lay the lessons! The delivery boys of the universe wait in the wings, ready to offer you wisdom at precisely the right time…if you choose to accept it. It is said that each individual in our lives acts as a mirror, showing us a reflection of our true selves. The man on the boat and the fool at the door both hold up a mirror for you, each with a unique perspective. A quick glimpse will give you a preview of what you’ve been hiding from yourself. A contemplative gaze will lead you home. Truth waits for you to find it. Answers to your questions, relief and comfort. But if you want to claim these as your own, you must look into the reflection with open eyes and an open heart. Does that seem scary to you? It scares me every time. But I keep on lookin’. The most exciting discoveries are those found in the depths of your self. Moments of awareness – when we truly see ourselves – are life’s golden rewards glowing brightly like the beacon guiding us home.
That was what blew my mind. When I finally figured that out, I had discovered a master teacher in myself. Now I’m learning to go the way my blood beats and find my own rhythm. For the first time in my life I’m putting myself first. Surprisingly more difficult than I’d expected, but I’m making good headway! And I find myself enriched for the experiences; both the good-feeling and the bad-feeling stuff alike. Be it one glowing ember, or one thousand tongues of flame…my fire burns! Always.
We are departing for the skies. Who has a mind for sightseeing?