The Tsunami of Emotion

“This tsunami of emotion never gives you adequate warning.  Of course it doesn’t.  It waits until your back is turned…until you are sure that you have everything that you could possibly want or need and then, oh yes then it crashes over you with an unstoppable force; ripping your feet out from under you and washing you away on a tide of passion; out to an uncharted sea of possibilities.”  ~ SSHenry

Have you ever stood in the ocean; pants rolled up above your knees; feeling the pull of the tide around your legs; the way it tugs the sand out from under your feet throwing you more and more off balance every time the wave carves deeper beneath you?

But you aren’t afraid.  Not yet.  Not so long as you are only up to your calves in water; not so long as you can manage to stay upright.  And you’re balancing!  Yes, it’s not as hard as you at first thought.  Yes, having the ground pulled out a bit from beneath your feet can be a bit disconcerting, but it’s really not bad once you get used to it; once you learn how to regain your balance.

It’s sort of like life, isn’t it?  There is always something coming at you; a wave of emotion; of drama of issues and griefs and sometimes joys.  Each of them tugs at you; pulls at you; begs you to come “just a little bit deeper” or to adjust your footing to compensate.

It’s that siren song; the sea pulling you into its depths and soothing your fears and calling you home; calling you to surrender to the inevitable. But you’ve got this.  There is a rhythm here; if you can feel it you can remain upright and in control.

And then comes the rogue wave; the tsunami of emotion; that unexpected and (most times) unwanted tidal wave of passion that surges over you and through you and turns your entire world upside down.

This tsunami of emotion never gives you adequate warning.  Of course it doesn’t.  It waits until your back is turned; until you are sure that you are stable and steady; that you have everything that you could possibly want or need and then, oh yes then it crashes over you with an unstoppable force; ripping your feet out from under you and washing you away on a tide of passion; out to an uncharted sea of possibilities.

You can’t fight it.

Well, let me rephrase that.  You can fight it, but nothing you can do will stop it and the most you can hope for is to keep your head above water and to ride it out until the surge passes and you find yourself out in unexplored waters where even the powerful beams from the light houses of logic and reason simply cannot reach.

When you open your eyes at last and find yourself adrift on waters strewn with the wreckage of what you once thought was a stable life (that once upon a time world where the lifeguards of logic patrol the shores and keep a person from getting too far over their head), and find yourself beyond any visible shore, you have two choices:

You can either let yourself drown in despair over what you have lost, or you can lie back and let the current take you where it will and trust that the shore it brings you too will far exceed even your absolute wildest dreams.

My Desire

“They say that love is the fundamental core of the universe.  They were wrong.  It is not love that is the lynchpin of existence.  It is desire.”  ~ SSHenry

Have you ever known desire? Have you ever felt the pure unadulterated yearning; that all encompassing searing of the soul that is the heart of love, the inspiration of creativity and the igniter of passion?  If you have ever truly known desire – real desire then you will understand what I say when I tell you that it is the true sign of one whose heart is fully open to everything and everyone around them; to every experience, and to all that the universe has to offer.

Indeed, in order to love you have to have the desire to love; the desire to open your heart up to the possibility of being loved in return.

It doesn’t matter if the love being returned to you is genuine; temporary; or even a reflection or echo of the love that you have sent out.  It is the loving and the openness to receiving love that is important, and both are possibly only made possible by acting on the desire to love and opening up to being loved in return.

Yes, I know all the movies and romance novels portray desire as something deeply sexual; something that ignites physical attraction and brings the lovers together more often than not against their better judgment.  Either that or they portray desire as the first step to obsession.  But in truth is that while desire can indeed lead to passion of all kinds (physical, mental and even spiritual) that is not all it is, not by a long shot.  And yes, it can lead to obsession if one focuses all of one’s desire on one person or object or experience to the exclusion of everything else.

And it isn’t just love that is fueled by desire, though love is the most powerful of the emotions that desire generates.  Desire also powers the engines of creativity.  You have to have the desire to express yourself before you ever pick up a pen or a paintbrush and create something bigger than has ever been seen or read before.  You have to have the desire to play before you can pick up an instrument and make your heart-song heard.

Oh yes, with enough talent and training anyone can write a coherent sentence or draw a picture or play the notes as they are written.  But only desire can inspire you to express your soul through your artistic medium and to create something that expresses to the world the true nature of who and what you are and to open your heart up to the world in return.

But it is not only artists who use desire in their daily lives.  Every person who opens their heart up to another; every person who loves first without expecting anything back in return; each of these people is using desire  (the desire to be something more than someone who only gives if they get something of equal or greater value back) to make the world a better place.  They desperately desire that love be the underlying factor of their reality and they embody that in every action that they take and every word they speak.

And desire is not partial.  It can be used for good; to fuel love and strength; creativity and passion.  But it can also fuel obsession and greed as well.  Like the Tao it is not good or bad in and of itself.  It simply is.  It is how you choose to use it; how you choose to channel it that matters.

Which brings me to another point; true desire can’t be hoarded, as Yoda said “that way darkness lies.”  Keeping your desire bottled up inside of yourself is a sure way to turn your desire into an obsession.  To be fully functional desire has to be open to the elements and free, not only as something you do (desiring something) but as an experience (being desired) as well.

Only when you are completely open to knowing and being known; to loving and being loved; to desiring and being desired can you truly be open to every experience that the universe has to offer you; to experiencing your full potential as a human being; to being more you than you ever thought possible.

I want that for you.  I want you to have the opportunity to experience desire in its truest and most open form.  I want you to become more than you ever thought possible.  I want you to experience the joy and wonder that comes from opening yourself up completely to experiencing each moment totally; to loving completely and to being loved in return.

That is my desire.

What’s yours?

 

 

 

 

The Treat Truck from Neverland

There is an ice-cream treat truck that that circles our neighborhood during the summer. Actually there are a number of ice-cream trucks that make the rounds through our neighborhood due to the sheer number of children in the area. But this one isn’t like any that I’ve seen before.

First off, it’s not a truck, but a van, and it doesn’t have the traditional pictures of dancing ice-cream cones, or even pictures of the treats themselves, but multi-colored swirls on the sides, and a simple “Ice Cream” stenciled in elegant script on the sides. But the thing that really sets this treat-truck apart from the others is the music.

Most treat-trucks play jaunty children’s tunes, the better to catch the attention of the younger set. But this one not only has its music playing in a minor key, but it’s playing things like “Morning Has Broken” and “Imagine” instead of the standard kid stuff.  Yes, I know, this particular treat truck may sell something other than ice cream, but that is not the point.

This particular afternoon as I was sitting out in my yard enjoying the sun and the breeze, I heard the minor-key Ice-Cream truck’s melody blending weirdly in with the sounds of the birds and the rustling of the branches, and I had a sudden vision of this van going from neighborhood to neighborhood and the lines being composed not of excited children clutching dollar bills in their sticky fingers, but of jaded and world-weary adults with sad and empty eyes lining up outside of the truck, offering up their souls for the chance that the ice-cream truck would take them away, far away; away to someplace else; anyway but here. That it would take them away from the pointlessness of existence and the sameness of their lives, or at least offer them the hope and the dreams that continue somehow, in spite of seeming success and achievement, to elude them.

There is such emptiness in the world today.  So many people are searching; searching for something to fill the emptiness; something that will satisfy their craving for substance and depth and honesty. They line up for any activity or idea or belief that they think might possibly fill the void and, if it proves to be insubstantial, they continue on to something that will provide them with a diversion; something that will numb the pain and the emptiness and help them pass the time.

If only they knew.

If only they knew that they have the answers inside of themselves.  That there is nothing to “find”, that if they truly want to fill the void all they have to do is look into their heart in order to find the joy and the substance is missing in their lives.  If they knew, maybe they wouldn’t go chasing after that treat truck.

The Smelting Pot

Why is it that so many people have such a deep-seated fear of oneness?

Honestly, you say the word and you can feel people cringe; that is when they are not jumping all over you for promoting ‘New Age claptrap’ or un-American sentiments.

Un-American? Really?  Last I heard America was the ‘Great Melting Pot’ where Peoples of different races and religions came together and became something more together than they were individually; a place where thoughts and concepts and ideas could mix freely and homogenize into something altogether different; something stronger and more unique.  Well, that’s how we billed ourselves, Once Upon a Time.

Times, it seems, have changed.

Once upon time the concept of the Great Melting Pot actually made sense.  It didn’t matter who you were, or where you were from.  You could come and add your own uniqueness to the mix; you could learn new ways of thinking and doing and being and, out of them, create a life for yourself that was richer and stronger than would have been possible if you had continued to go it alone; like taking a plate of Iron, melting it down to its most basic, fundamental levels, removing the impurities, oxidizing it, and ending up with steel; something far stronger and more durable.

The problem is that over the years the concept Great Melting Pot has turned into the great Homogenizing Plant, and homogenization isn’t about increasing strength and stability of any one person or group of Peoples.  Homogenization is where substances are brought together and emulsified until what made them “them” is distributed evenly throughout the mixture and there is no uniqueness or individuality left.

Steel is still Iron; just iron that has been purified and strengthened.  When you homogenize milk, on the other hand, while it loses its impurities, it also looses much of the richness and flavor that made it so enjoyable to begin with.  If you don’t believe me, stop by a farm sometime and take a drink of milk fresh from a cow, there really is no comparison.

Believe it or not, this is the same problem that people run into when they think of the concept of spiritual unity and oneness.  Instead of seeing oneness as a smelting pot; a process that enriches the individual; a process that not only removes your impurities but strengthens you with concepts and ideas that you might never otherwise have encountered, they see it as homogenization; as a loss of everything that made them an individual.

They have somehow got it into their heads that when you subscribe to “oneness” you give up all of your individuality; all of your flavor; everything that made you “you.”  Actually, they couldn’t be more wrong.

Oneness isn’t about becoming the same as everyone else.  It isn’t about losing your distinctness or merging into some sort of protean soup where you give up your ability to think for yourself.  In fact, as long as we live in this physical universe and subscribe to physical duality that is patently impossible.  Our very existence as human beings here on this planet indicates that we are here to live as individuals and to thrive, each of us in our unique and distinct physical package.

What oneness is about is acknowledging that at our most fundamental core, each and every one of us is made up of the same substance.  Oneness is not something that we strive for; it is something that we remember because it is something that already happened.

We all come from that great smelting pot where the iron was crafted into steel.  Through the process of living, each of us takes on different strengths and weaknesses.  We’ve had different alloys added into our mix to make new and unique metals.  We’ve been cast into beams to hold up sky scrapers and into fence posts and belt buckles and kitchen kettles.  We find our place as cookware or flatware or decorative objects that have to be highly polished.

But underneath it all; underneath all of the polishing and decorative coats of paint; underneath all of the plaster and plumbing that have been built up over us; underneath of the circuits and computer chips and plastic casings; we’re all the same.

No matter how we may fight the knowing, we ARE all one.

There is no getting around it.

Acknowledging the fact that we are all, at our core, spiritual beings and that we are made up of the same stuff does not mean that we will stop being who and what we are, that we will have to melt down the sky scrapers and the flatware and the belt buckles and the jewelry and give up our individuality for some sort of homogenized boredom.

All it means is that by acknowledging that we are all made up of the same stuff we will go about our lives with a fresh perspective; the knowledge that no matter how different we may seem, at heart we ARE one.

And that, my friends, can make all the difference in the world.

The Enlightened Art of Chasing Rainbows

You’ve run into them, I know you have, those New Age ‘gurus’ who sell a method or process of enlightenment that is “guaranteed” to work.   Well, you have to buy their book or their 10 disc CD set or sign up for their online course (where you get a personal spirit coach and a free reading on your etheric colors).

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not knocking their methods.  In fact, I have read a huge number of “how to” and “self help” books that contain some extraordinarily awesome suggestions; tips and techniques that have definitely made my own spiritual journey far richer and more interesting than it would have been if I’d continued to keep slugging away through the underbrush on my own; forging my own path with absolutely no outside help and only a semi-sharp machete.

I only have one problem when it comes to these sorts of spiritual teachers, and that is the overall attitude that there is just one way to enlightenment – their way – when in truth the process of enlightenment is more like chasing rainbows.

Didn’t you ever chase after a rainbow as a kid?  You can see it, its right there!  And yet, when you get to the point of the rainbow’s origin, what do you find?  Nothing but mist and sunlight; nothing tangible; nothing substantial, and definitely nothing that you can lay your hands on and say “hey look, I’ve got me a rainbow!”  In fact, once you reach the point where the rainbow seemed to touch the ground, chances are that you will have found that it has moved on to the top of the hill; the top of the mountain; always a step ahead of you and just out of reach.

As you get older you learn about how rainbows are made and even the knowledge that it is nothing but raindrops and sunbeams doesn’t deter us.  Even the knowledge that the array of colors is due to the prismatic effect of refraction doesn’t keep us from our goal.  We still try.  We might even consult with others who claim that they know how to pin one down.

Yes, there are teachers who have a grasp on ways to help you see the colors more clearly.  There are those who can give you a step by step description of what each color means and others who will be able to walk you through the process of refraction and be able to discuss the philosophical meaning of rainbows and the importance they play in the human drama, but there is not one teacher out there who can teach you how to lay your hands on that rainbow.  Why?  Because it can’t be done.

That’s right.  There is no such thing as “achieving” enlightenment.  I don’t care how hard you run or how many mountains you climb, you will never “achieve” enlightenment.  There will never be anything that you can hold out and say, “Here is enlightenment.  It is within my grasp.  It is mine.”  Why?  Because enlightenment is not something that you get; it is not something that you get.  Enlightenment is the process of stepping back and discovering that enlightenment was inside of you the entire time.

You are the sun.

You are the rain.

And it is in your heart and mind and soul that the rainbow not only has its origins but where you will find your pot of gold as well.

 

 

The Empty Circle

There is a yearning in every human heart; a seeming emptiness that cries out to be filled.

Some people feel this emptiness as a lack. They feel that there is something tangible that is missing in their lives and attempt to fill it with whatever makes the feel better; drugs, sex, alcohol, food, shopping. It doesn’t seem to matter. They feel that if they can just get enough of whatever thing or experience has made them feel good in the past, that they can fill up this emptiness even if it is a temporary fulfillment.

Some people feel that this is a spiritual emptiness; a yearning for God. I’ve heard sermons where preachers claim that it is the voice of divinity or the Holy Spirit speaking to the heart; that if an individual just give up enough of themselves, surrenders themselves; that God will take away the pain and emptiness and fill it with something even better.

But what if it isn’t an emptiness at all?

Zen Buddhism has a symbol – an almost circle called an ensō.  This almost circle is painted with a single brush stroke and it is symbolic of the moment when the mind is free to simply let the body/spirit create.  It  is said that with practice the mind can be taught to leave that center space open on purpose in order to give the body and the spirit room to create the life that you have always wanted.

Seemingly related is the center point of the Chinese Bagua; the eight sided (nine spaced) cosmological chart that is used in order to practice Feng Shui (the art of placement).  In this particular practice the center point – the center space of the Bagua is always (if possible) left open and empty so as to invite in new energy and to give you room to create the type of home that you truly desire.

Indeed, what if this openness; this space inside of each heart is anything but empty?

Think about it.  What if this space that we perceive of as emptiness and equate with loneliness and lack is actually a part of the system design of our body/soul interface?

It’s not that far-fetched really.  All of the most useful and practical of machines are made not only with specifically designed working parts, but with spaces in which those parts can work. Gears have to turn.  Levers have to shift.  Even when it comes to computers, there has to be memory space in order for calculations to be made; places for all those ones and zeroes to gather and process.

What if – instead of fighting the emptiness; instead of trying so desperately to fill it up, we instead embraced it?

What if we accepted that empty space inside of our minds, hearts and spirits as the space in which dreams come true; as the workspace of our souls where it can get to work on putting together the life that we have always wanted?  What if it is here, in the emptiness that our conversations with our souls can begin?

Perhaps then the emptiness would take on an entirely different meaning.  Instead of emptiness and loneliness we would find peace, comfort and understanding, and we would stop trying so desperately to fill something that is simply a necessary part of the way that we were designed.

 

 

The Vanilla Man

I don’t know about you, but I’m a chocolate kind of girl.   From the time I was little I would bypass the pretty pink ice creams (strawberry mostly) that other girls my age seemed so fond of (I honestly think it had something to do with the popularity of Strawberry Shortcake at the time) and went straight for the Double Dutch Chocolate or Swiss Chocolate Almond.

In shops that had multiplicities of flavors I’d ignore the pistachio and lemon balm and caramel crunch; preferring to zero in on the Fudge Stripe and Mayan Chocolate, with an occasional nod to Oreo Cookie Crunch or Chocolate Chip.  When people would ask me why I didn’t try and mix it up a bit I would shrug and say I didn’t know, but what it was, was that I didn’t know how to explain it.

You see, I didn’t understand why I should muck around with the more fruity or bland flavors, even if they were unusual.  What I wanted – what I craved – was the full-bodied experience of chocolate; the way that it completely overwhelmed my senses and bombarded me with an intoxicating richness that went straight to my head.

Strangely enough, this was a theme that would follow me for my entire life; always having to go straight for the people and places, the situations and experiences that would provide me with the most stimulation; the most intensity; the most flavor and it amazed me that there were people who actually went out of their way to avoid these kinds of stimulation.  For the longest time I thought that there had to be something wrong with them.  Indeed, many of them seemed rather ashamed of the fact that they didn’t try more or do more, as if they felt they had let themselves down somehow by choosing safety and security over adventure and really wild things.  But it was my encounter with the Vanilla Man that would forever change the way I viewed my life and the way those around me had chosen to live.

The Vanilla Man was something entirely new to my experience; a person who not only avoided excess stimulation of any kind (shunning those experiences and situations and experiences that I found so attractive) but who took pride in being predictable and I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why anyone would prefer this kind of a life.  It was an intriguing concept, and one I had never encountered before.

Even then, those many years ago, the Vanilla Man was predictable.  Even as a young man you could set your clock by his routine.  At any time of the day or night you knew where he would be and what he would be doing.  And in spite of my own personal preferences and inclinations, I found him anything but boring.  He had an awesome sense of humor and we could converse on a wide variety of topics even seeing things from different perspectives as we did.  In fact, I found his predictability and complete confidence in himself to be entirely refreshing; a way of looking at the world around him that I had never considered before to be valid.   He found my spontaneity and unfiltered view of the world just as intriguing, and it made for a rather tempestuous relationship.

Like night and day, however, we eventually went our separate ways, unable to reconcile our opposite views and lifestyles (though we remain fast friends) and there are times when I have to wonder what would have happened if we had given that mixing of vanilla and chocolate a go.  Would it have resulted in a block of striped ice cream with neither budging to give the other space?  Would we have been like a hot fudge sundae with one of us overpowering or smothering the other? Or would we have mixed ourselves so thoroughly that we would have each become something less (and more) than we had been on our own; giving up our own chocolate and vanilla personalities and preferences to become something like chocolate mouse or vanilla swirl?

Many years have gone by since then, but I have never forgotten what the Vanilla Man had to teach me; that just because there are those who don’t see the world in quite the same way that you do does not mean that their perspective is invalid, and that not everyone has to approach life in the same way that you do in order to be truly and fully alive.

In truth, the world needs vanilla.  Without vanilla men (and women) the chocolates and coconut cherry chunks and rocky roads would run rampant and there would never be any continuity; nothing would get done.  The world would dissolve into complete and total chaos and anarchy.  Besides being soothing and creamy, vanilla tones down the bitterness of more aggressive flavors and makes the sickly sweet tolerable and goes well with almost everything, and while there are those who would downplay its importance or who would say that it dilutes the more exotic flavors, the truth is that without vanilla, we would run into some serious problems.

Even today, every now and then I’ll find myself opting for a dish of vanilla ice cream as opposed to chocolate; a reminder of what could have been, yes, but also to what is, and the incredible variety that makes up humanity; that makes up life and how each and every one of us, regardless of our preferences has a place and a purpose in that great big ice cream parlor that makes up our universe.