My heart sings for small towns not for the crumbling, faded houses or the hollow eyes that inhabit them but for the spaces in between humanity the thick undergrowth of untouched hillsides the silence that surrounds you as you emerge at the street's abrupt end winding roads turning to dust as they weave through valleys and stitch the mountains together no turns in sight as you faithfully follow for miles to a singular destination in the distant country, past oceans made of tall grasses and grazing cattle where the open sky is unhindered by smog and skyscrapers and you can feel yourself shrinking beneath the infinity of distant stars or cradled by the buoyant brushstrokes of soft clouds in an endless canvas of blue swallowed up, dissolved, and made whole again all at once I've always found safety in the subtle symphony of places far away from people the silent prayer of bare feet against the warm earth sunlight filtered through gently rustling leaves the tender cadence of countless other lives swelling and saturating every cell of my being bowing down in reverence to this ancient rhythm Separation from source is the truest form of suffering caged inside the arrogant design of human kind cut off from the wind and light set aside to sit in sterile cells tangled up in selfish isolation eating ourselves alive No, I'd rather wade into the cool embrace the filthy, glistening grandeur of the river memorize the ever changing melody of chirping birds and tiny insects the healing buzz of their constant vibration lapping at the shores of my truest self reminding me of my part in the song
releasing control is a chance to rest to consciously accept whatever comes anguish adds up quickly when you try to achieve perfection leaving no room for error is a dance with dissatisfaction its funny how quickly I lose sight of the intention behind my machinations was I looking for precision or peace? the latter is always mine when I choose it there is nothing to fear when you're open to everything closing ourselves off is the cause of all distress a flower that only opens to the sun under pristine conditions, perfect circumstances will surely wither and die from stubbornness if nothing else the plucky dandelion that sprouts up through the crack in the crumbling cement will still find the light there waiting to offer warmth and life what we need, we can always find if we decide to lower the strict barriers blocking and restricting our sight an open palm to receive what a clenched fist cannot how absurd to sacrifice happiness in our pursuit of it to give up our inner peace to exert power over our surroundings the true trick is to learn how to soften when we are scared to remember that sometimes surrender will be what saves us
I see myself in these young girls passing by with downcast eyes half-heartedly hiding superficial scars lost inside churning, troubled minds I understand is what I want to say, but hesitate I feel the venom behind my own voice hissing hatred at those who once presumed to know me you can't build a bridge to an identity centered on being misunderstood any attempt is an insult, an assault to a fragile, fearful ego all seeds sown of love remain inert and soon sour in dry, distrustful soil no external light can reach us in those dark inner places so what planted the seed that has since blossomed in my own heart? was there something that snuck through? or was it there all along? what brought me to the river and laid my soul bare to the blinding light? what lured me from the thick forest of my addictive inner agony? was time really all it took? despite my desperate longing to pluck my sisters from their suffering I surrender to that unknown force that found me from within so long ago I trust that they are strong enough to navigate their own private pain and uncover their own stillness that peaceful place inside us all some burdens we must bear alone because they make us who we are shouldering that impossible weight is what gives us the strength to transcend it someday
there is no peace for a heart hunted down by phantom fears what you seek will soon be found magnified, multiplied lungs filled with flowers dark and haunted hovels iridescent crystals of consciousness each frame of reality a microcosm of unending eternity selections from innumerable fractals of possibility manifested as moments focus, focus, focus fear, death, joy, and love are equally present in everything don't be afraid of the uncertainty that engulfs you it is the soft caress of the brutal, boiling sun that sets you free
I used to think the little things were not enough to fill me up fear seems so much larger and closer than the morning sun perched on treetops but now I know how to see it how to bundle up all those little moments like so many love notes from the universe and boil them down to make a balm that heals and fortifies the restless soul I know how to let the little moments in I've seen them shrink those fears lightening the load of a heavy, hurting heart don't underestimate the power of fresh cut grass and spring showers the world offers refuge for all those who seek it transcribed into bird songs, babbling brooks, and the rustling of newly budded leaves the irony of life is overlooking what we need straining our necks to see the big picture without savoring the safety found in stillness and simplicity when the world gets too large you can find me with the small things wrapped in morning dewdrops dissolving my self into intricate mosaics of green
There is purpose in pain there is salvation in suffering there is peace is powerlessness teetering on the edge of oblivion is a balancing act that brings great strength blessings disguised as burdens bring unsuspecting hearts new perspectives sometimes joy is hard to find in a life of lavish excess the simple soothing sensations of aching needs finally met are lost in the gratuitous gamut of wealth and superfluous luxury even small happinesses are enough to feed a truly hungry heart there is no need to fear the fall it offers us cleansing from distraction a chance to uncover the real pleasures of a life unclouded by greed we flee from the emptiness clinging desperately to all we have forgetting that letting go is a lesson that teaches us we were enough all along
Spirituality is religion without shame detaching from the dogma to discover the true essence of the soul a soul that's not sinful and soiled but a small part of the grander perfection that swirls throughout the cosmos and stitches the universe into one cohesive cloth deconstructing the hierarchy propped up by people with impure intentions a recognition of my inner light in the eyes of all others a curious innocence allowing everyone to be their own guide, their own fractal of God energy not offering ultimate, immutable answers but instead offering peace and patience in the shared presence of the unknowable the loving awareness of uncertainty merged with a deep, yet inexpressible inner knowing a humble surrender to our own unanswered prayers
Nothing is ever as pressing as the one who’s pressing would like you to believe. And I am content to walk a little slower, because there’s nowhere that I really need to be.The Difference in the Shades – Bright Eyes
The sensation of being rushed or in a hurry has been chasing me around for years now. I don’t remember how or when it began, but that fluttering, panicked sensation in my chest seems to always be with me. I start jerking myself violent forward through my day from the moment I wake up. The last few days I’ve been lingering for just a few minutes in bed after my alarm sounds to caress and snuggle my sweet animal children, and it’s been amazing to see just how much my mind tries to resist that and tell me I don’t have time for something so precious and worthwhile. My consciousness leaps straight from the peaceful oblivion of sleep to a three-alarm fire of strict routines and to-do lists in an instant.
While I particularly struggle with giving myself the time to just live and experience the life around me without frantically lining everything up for the next moment, I think a lot of other people have this same problem. Sometimes waiting feels as frightening as death itself. If someone makes a comment, if I get an email, if I’m invited to do something, or even have an idea I feel compelled to focus my entire attention toward responding or taking immediate action. It feels strange just to remind myself that I don’t have to react. Certainly not immediately, but often times, not at all.
It’s easier to see the error in this way of living when I watch those closest to me. It’s painful to watch someone continue to leap into awful decisions just because they feel they have to pick from the ones in front of them in each moment, that waiting is not an option. When you find yourself in a situation where both paths laid out before you are unappealing, it’s okay to decide not to choose either one and wait for other opportunities to present themselves. There is so much value in waiting, in stillness, in just observing, in watching patiently, mindfully. In a world where only bold, immediate action is given any acknowledgment, we are quickly losing sight of the quiet talent of simply being.
Even when the external world isn’t keeping us busy with stimuli to force a fast response, our inner world is. I make my emotional experiences so much more painful by feeling the need to do something about them. When I’m sad, I intensify that despair by trying to claw my way out of that feeling in any way that I can. When I’m anxious, I compound that frenzied energy by running from it, wondering about it, and trying to “fix” it. Even happiness sets me off on a quest to somehow bottle it and ensure that it stays with me, rather than just giving myself permission to enjoy it while it lasts.
Our emotions are often helpful, valuable cues. Even so that doesn’t mean they always require intervention or conscious direction. Emotions and internal experiences or mental states are there to be noticed and observed. Sometimes it helps me to pretend I am just a passive observer watching the external and internal events in this life. Then I don’t feel so much pressure to get involved with every little thing. I become aware of the benefit of simply watching everything unfold with openness and curiosity.
There is nothing wrong with slowing down and giving yourself space to experience whatever comes in the moment. This moment, no matter what it holds, is the only place we’re meant to be. Don’t miss the beauty of it, the uniqueness of it, by trying to get to the next moment faster. This moment is where your whole life is happening, take the time to notice it, savor it, enjoy it with playfulness and curiosity. There is nowhere else that you need to be.
Childhood and Developmental psychology classes helped me learn and understand the different stages that children pass through as they grow, particularly the stages of awareness and consciousness. Piaget’s 4 stages of cognitive development highlight the ways in which we all expand our perception of ourselves and the world around us as we age.
In the first stage, we gain object permanence, we begin to understand that we are separate entities from others, and that our actions affect the world around us. In the second stage we are largely only focused on ourselves and our own perspective. This stage is also where we first begin to be able to think symbolically, grasping that images can represent ideas and objects. We still think in concrete terms and struggle with abstract concepts. The third stage is where we begin to develop our logic and reasoning skills. The fourth and “final” stage is where we form the ability to think abstractly and contemplate hypothetical situations.
You may notice that I’ve put the word “final” in quotation marks, and I have good reason for that. It occurred to me the other day when I was thinking about the idea of faith and the many aspects of reality and life that we cannot know. I began to wonder why it is that it seems so absurd to consider there being more to reality than we can hope to conceive of in our current human state. Psychology has already laid out the ways that a child’s brain is different than an adult’s and has a more limited ability to process the world. Why do we assume then that a fully formed adult brain necessarily has overcome all of these cognitive limitations? In fact, based on Piaget’s theory, it seems logical to infer we may still not have all the pieces of the puzzle when it comes to perceiving ourselves and the world around us.
It practical terms, it does us no good to try to operate in the world on this premise. All we can do is use the information available to us in order to live. However, this idea that there is potentially much more to this world than we are able to understand is one that brings me comfort. This is my rather garbled attempt to emphasize the fact that faith may not be as groundless as I, myself, once thought. It allows me to more easily surrender to that unknown aspect of this universe and trust that, even when I don’t understand it, there is some higher purpose, or meaning to all of this. There is much more going on than my brain is capable of grasping. Perhaps death is the final stage of cognitive development.
“Oh, the river!…I know it’s like me…I know that I belong to it. I know that it’s the natural company of such as I am! It comes from country places, where there once was no harm in it—and it creeps through the dismal streets, defiled and miserable—and it goes away, like my life, to a great sea, that is always troubled—and I feel that I must go with it!”Charles Dickens – David Copperfield
There has always been something about large natural bodies of water that calm the restless turmoil within my soul. When I stare out at the gentle, undulating movement of the rivers and seas, a stillness settles over me. All of my life I have found refuge alongside the riverbank. The wretched, polluted waters have become a part of me over the years as I’ve poured endless tears out into them, and refilled my own cup with their timeless wisdom.
I too know that I belong to the river. It is like me. We are intertwined in a sacred, ancient union. I can feel it calling to me – and I too must go with it. I offer up to it all of my regrets, all of my fears, all of my sorrow. I let it carry them all away to become tiny specs in the vastness of the sea. I listen to it’s soft hiss, ever so slowly smoothing the rocks along the shore. I come to the banks to be smoothed just the same, to blunt my jagged edges and have my troubles tumbled into soft sand.
How many times have I found myself here, asking it’s sage advice? How many times have I been comforted by these dark, whispering waters? How many secrets have we shared in all these years together? When did it first begin to feel like coming home as I found my way into its profound presence? How could I possibly hope to explain this connection, this gratitude for the spirit of the earth and eternity lingering in these waters?
What a comfort and a joy it has been to have such a constant companion. This flowing life force has carried me through every stage of my life. I know that I can always rely on the river to bring me back to myself, to remind me that everything is okay. Not a single moment I’ve gazed at the river has it been the same water. Not a single moment have I been the same as the moment before. We are both eternally shifting and changing, flowing and forming into something new. Yet, somehow we are still each considered a consistent entity, something concrete and tangible. So different yet so similar.
The river is my reminder. It is an opportunity to stop and listen to the universe as it endlessly unfolds, a perpetual mystery, a beautiful, unknowable absurdity. A chance to surrender to the unstoppable flow of life and existence. A confirmation in my soul that we are all one, as I gaze at my distorted reflection bobbing happily in the rough waves, wondering where we began, and where, someday, we’ll end.