Dear brothers and sisters,
A few days ago I was driving with a passenger I don’t know well. She’d been generous to tell me a few things about her life. Our common friend, who’d asked me to give her a ride, told me beforehand that she’d been in a ‘funk’, had been sleeping all day, didn’t want to leave the house.
When I asked her how she was (which, in the US, could be ‘how’s it going’, or in Australia, ‘how you going’), she kindly told me how she’d been struggling with her mother’s death over the last year. The emotional aspect also came with her own survival challenges as her mother’s departure also came not with inheriting debt and pressure and she’d already been just getting by.
Mostly I listened, acknowledging some of the painful parts, as well as highlighting how well she’d been doing in coping.
After 10 minutes or so, the stream of her sharing dried up. I had the impression she suddenly felt exposed, vulnerable, having disclosed so much about herself.
“How are you?” She said.
This happens often for me. When I ask someone how they are, they often sense that I really want to know, that it’s okay to tell me anything. And maybe because I do genuinely care – and listen well – people say things to me that they often don’t tell many or any others.
In all conversations, and in the creation of intimacy, there is a need for a certain symmetry, a balance of give and take, of depth, of exposure. One of the primary mechanisms of creating connection and intimacy is the sharing of our stories, and the more vulnerable we are in sharing them, the more private they are, the greater the intimacy created.
Depth of connection or love is not a function of time, even if time can serve that depth too.
I told her some of what was going on in my head and heart.
After a year feeling unrooted, with our stuff in storage, no solid base, many trips around the world, I’m happy to be grounding; for me (and my daughter) to be planting ourselves in one place. And another part of me is freaking out with how much there is to do to make that happen, especially the move happening without planning or warning.
I gave her a taste of what was in my mind. Just a taste, mind you. Thing is I shared it in a way that was real, including letting the crazy sounding thoughts just come out, even as I knew they were crazy sounding.
Our cultural definition of a crazy person is someone – usually a homeless person whose disheveled and dirty – who’s talking to themselves.
Thing is: the only difference is they are doing it out loud. We’re all talking to ourselves all the time. Or most of the time. We have just learned to keep it inside.
Keeping it inside is part of what got us into this mess.
Can’t change something by the same consciousness that created it.
A friend of mine once tapped into what’s called satori in eastern traditions (which could be defined as ‘sudden enlightenment’). It’s also sometimes known as no-self, a state that’s available to all of us all the time, which is characterized by a loss of ego, or need, and bring that person to a profound peace. Satori is like a taste of enlightenment (which is a trick word that I write about in other places).
I was blessed to enjoy time with him when he was in this state. I recognized it in him quickly, and, also not having seen him in some time, questioned him about how it had come to pass. I wanted to know about him and his life.
At first I just said to him, “tell me – what’s happened, what brought you here?” I meant to the physical place – we were at Esalen Institute – as well as ‘here’ meaning the satori state.
At first he looked at me blankly. Kindly, yet blankly. After a moment, he said, ‘help me out, ask me a specific question.’
I did. And it led to an amazing conversation.
Later he wrote to me that I’d taught him something that day: ‘help me out’, might be our salvation.
Jesus put it as ‘when you bring forth that which is inside you, it shall redeem you. If you fail to bring it forth, it shall destroy you.’
As a culture, we’ve pushed a lot down in the last many years, and now the earth is demanding that we wake up and step up to another way of being, a more conscious way of treating her, and each other.
You can see how that is showing up around us, and I know many of you are experiencing it in your personal lives as well.
After I comically raced through the thoughts in my head to my passenger for a minute or two, she said: ‘it sounds like you are OCD.’
My face screwed upward in surprise and confusion, a perfect expression of what my brain had done with what she said. OCD?
I give myself permission to experience the full range of being human, which means that I sometimes get sad, angry or scared. At one point in my life I felt next to nothing, and it took a lot of work to get to the point that I could feel at all.
Now, not only am I grateful to feel deeply, to be so sensitive that I cry often, and in public, I’m beyond grateful that the majority of the time not only don’t I feel sad, angry or scared. I feel love, gratitude, happiness and hilarity.
I am frequently touched, and whether a beautiful being that I’m with, nature or simply God herself, the beauty of this world can overwhelms me. And when tears flow, that, too, is bringing forth that which is inside us.
In an age when the term ‘flow’ is growing in popularity, and a great part of my own life I led yoga classes that could be called flow, another perspective on flow is simply letting ourselves out. It takes bravery to show what’s on the inside, which is part of why I’m also beyond grateful to my friends and clients who so generously share their innerworkings with me.
I don’t need to debate any diagnosis. I’ve gotten a few, from pros and from amateurs, and I can relate to all of them. Sure, I can get obsessive, and compulsive. And, ya, disorder? I have plenty of that in my life every day.
Now, what does any of this have to do with you, beloved reader? I hope you’ll join me in a minor tribute to the wisdom of Forrest Gump, whose mother always said “crazy is as crazy does.”
It’s not crazy is as crazy thinks. Or even as crazy says. Minds are crazy, y’all. The only problem with thinking is if we believe our thoughts. Or even believe they are our thoughts. My fears or worries are not so unique or special to me. We all have them, even if the flavors and details are different.
We’re a lot less likely to believe our thoughts if we say them out loud to people we love and trust. Isolation is dangerous to health. We are here to love and connect; that may be the primary reason for earth school.
“Yes,” I said to her. “You’re probably right.”
We had hug when I dropped her off, and I may be overly optimistic, and yet it seemed to me she was lighter when we parted. She was enlightened. We helped each other out.