I am Not the Buddha

The following quote by poet Tyler Knott Gregson came up on my Facebook memories this week…

“To begin again, sometimes you have to take life down to the studs, knock down all the walls, and pull out the insulation that kept you from the world. You must get dirty and feel the ache in the muscles you used to pull the house down around you. You must stare wide eyed and grinning at the mess you have made, seeing through the rubble to the clean floor that will emerge when the work is through.

Now, now is the time to destroy the foundations of fear and apprehension, the walls of waiting and wishing; now is the time to begin again. Laugh at the piles of the past you stand in, knee deep and smiling.”

I so loved it at the time I posted it. Reading it again brought me back to that moment in time. It was two and a half years after I had split with my husband and moved out of our home. I had – we had – torn it all down. It was not working. We were not happy, though we had tried and tried. I had already gone through the grieving, much of it while we were still together. I was, at that point in time, ready “to laugh at the piles of the past in which I stood, knee deep and smiling.”

The date was February 2016.

About a month later, my ex-husband (and the father of my two girls) came out as transgender. Nine months after that, my beloved father died suddenly. Nine months after that, my mother was diagnosed with BRCA and stage 3 cancer.

Let me be clear – I am not comparing my ex being trans with death nor with cancer, but I list it here because…well because when the person with whom you were in a relationship for twelve years reveals this kind of secret – when you realize you didn’t know, percieve, understand…have an inkling of something so fundamental about your spouse as his gender – it has the power to shake one’s foundation. As is, for my girls and me, navigating the outward changes of our loved one. When you think about it – what is more fundamentally true to a child, than that Dad is a man? (Or to a woman, that an ex-Husband is a man, for that matter?) Love is love…and what is revealed within that can still be a wall rattler; a soul shaker.

Once again I found myself standing in the rubble that was once my life. However, THIS time – I hadn’t asked for it. I had not held the sledgehammer in my own two hands and swung wildly, hungry to tear it all down. I had simply woken up one day to find a big hole in the roof, and then I watched helplessly as the foundation cracked, and the walls buckled, and everything seemed to crumble all around me.

The question I find myself asking is – Is it possible to approach the rubble we’ve willfully created in the same way that we greet the rubble we did not? The rubble we never asked for? The rubble we never saw coming?

The Buddhist answer would be yes – simply greet what is. Embrace it.
I can assure you, I am not the Buddha.

As I have stood in the piles of the past, I have grieved. Heavily. I have cut myself on the jagged pieces of the past as I tried to fix what was there. I have tripped and fallen as I tried to hold up the pieces that were still hanging on by a few desperate nails. When you never wanted the destruction, it is hard to accept the fact that nothing can be put back exactly as it was, in its imperfect perfection.

Whether the rubble was intended or not, Gregson was right about looking THROUGH it all, “to the clean floor that will emerge.”

Because it will. It is there, beneath it all. It is always there. Whether we brought on the demolition ourselves, or we helplessly watched as everything fell apart. Either way, we must rebuild.

We have no choice, as we stand there in the rubble, but to get to work cleaning up the mess and to begin again…and again, and again.

Such is life – learning to push up our sleeves and do the work…

The work we asked for, and the work we didn’t.

I still may not be able to greet both with a smile – to greet them equally with gratitude as bits of the house that once sheltered me cling to my hair and dust my eyelashes – but I do understand that it’s the building and rebuilding of my house that will teach me the most about myself.

Above all I must remind myself that I am not the house.
Its destruction never has to equal mine.

Day 281/365 Light It Up

I had two different topics in my head today as I was thinking about what to write.

The first was – how do we keep opening our hearts and being vulnerable, when people – and life – can be so unpredictable?

The second was – how do we remain inspired to plan for the future when so much is beyond our control?

As I was emerging from the shower (I get a lot of good thinking done in there) it occurred to me that these were not two different blog posts – but one – because they have a strong common thread.

The common thread is that the answer to both questions is the same –

Optimism. 

We have to keep believing that it is worthwhile….to live, to love, to plan… 

Recently I wrote about how many of us find ourselves in situations we had never anticipated….living through things we never saw coming…or as my friend described it, falling into a hole we never knew was there. 

I wrote about how we cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it (a common bit of advice in the self-help world). Of course this is so very true, so I have been practicing that…observing my reactions, and trying to respond in the most compassionate and reasonable way I can. (I have not perfected this, by any means, but I am working on it.)

The unexpected is to be expected – so we should not become fixated on things following a predictable course…following our plan. We must learn to go with the flow, adjust, bend…sometimes fall apart and then piece ourselves back together again.

That is a good thing to understand, theoretically, but when life throws a lot of surprises at us over a short period of time, we may become exhausted. We may also become apathetic. Isn’t it easier not to try, or not to care?

I think for me, I have just become tired. I have been expending so much energy trying to stay afloat. I am reminded of a verse by a favorite poet of mine, Tyler Knott Gregson…

I realize that I used to feel full of optimism.

I was inspired…

By family, by work, by love, by LIFE…and the events of the last year or so have left me so exhausted that I have ceased to feel that optimism.

I have lost it…and I want it back.

We are presently living through the darkest days of the year…but each day brings us more and more light…

More and more lightness.

God, I need more lightness….don’t you?

I don’t want to spend so much time fighting off the darkness that I cease to welcome in the light.

Light It Up.