Saturday, June 26, 2010

Politics, Angels and Mirrors

I haven’t written in a few weeks. Found myself drowning in a sea of projection, fear, defeat, and exhaustion.  There I was, spiraling into those foreboding places in my mind, ignoring the detour signs which said I could take another route. If I chose.  An apparent glutton for punishment I continued to clutch and claw my way out, and  the slope became more slippery and I descended deeper.  Living in a state of fear and uncertainty are a self-fulfilling prophesy and I clearly know that at this stage of my life.   So many things are out of my control right now, as if anything other than my own response and behavior is really in my realm of change any way!  In my younger days, I was arrogant enough to think I had the power to change everything; especially the world and of course, others.  The learning curve of finally “getting” I can only change me, my attitudes, and perceptions has been steep and I am not into graduate work yet.  Slamming my shoulder up against a lot of closed doors, for some time now, has exhausted me.  Truly, I really feel bone tired.  I didn’t have the energy for loved ones well-meaning “tough love” or “pep talks.”  I didn’t need to hear, try harder, stay positive, get over yourself.  I was in a place that I just knew, no one could relate, and essentially, most of them couldn’t.  And, as I said to them, I loved them enough, I really didn’t want them to identify with the fear I was feeling, ever...So, rather than keep the drama of my feelings stirred up by talking it out, over and over again,  I chose to pull inward and  nurture myself.  I didn’t want to hear that God hadn’t moved, I had... Nor, have patience, or that I wasn’t trying hard enough. For a few days at least, I revisited the old rejection of my Divine genealogy, (self-imposed of course) and identified myself as God’s red-headed step-child!  What I did need was their hugs, silent support, and prayers. His too... I didn’t know how to ask for just that. So, I asked for nothing.  My ego rather enjoys the mask of strength, competence and courage that I slap on my face from time to time. I had myself in such a state. But, I now see, I needed to be there too.  Three absolutely, beautiful, gifts arose out of my terror and confusing week. 
First, I dumped much of my anger in the correct bucket, for a change.  I have been struggling with unemployment for quite some time now. For the first time in my life, I am scared about the country I live in and the caliber of the individuals we are entrusting (and electing) to defend, honor, protect, AND grow this once great land.  Perhaps it is the disease of narcissism which seems so pervasive these days, or just an addiction to greed and power.  Congress has been playing these mind games with the unemployed and keeping us guessing whether or not a new extension will be granted.  As if any individual could live on the less than minimum wage, unemployment insurance doled out like a condescending gift.  Most of us have been paying into this fund for years, (30+ in my case), should we (god forbid) became jobless. Feeling particularly piqued one day, I sat and wrote a pointed letter to Senator Sherrod Brown, of Ohio, unabashedly telling him my story and even more important, what should change,  and how things should operate!  Ranting about bailouts for Wall Street, questioning where the stimulus money to be spent in job creation landed, addressing the lack of health coverage for US citizens, our ongoing mortgage crisis, the paragraphs of my tome grew. It culminated in berating Senator Orrin Hatch’s insulting suggestion that the unemployed should be drug tested!  In my mind, that all REEKS  of Hatch and the pharmaceutical companies sharing cocktails and conversation about big bucks and payoffs to someone other than "the people".   I questioned whether we could even afford to buy generic aspirin on the amount of unemployment received? I would test clean, that’s for sure. I haven't even been able to buy my vitamins these days to maintain my health.  I ended on that note and was completely spent.   No expectations.  I arrived home late the other night, checked e-mail before bed, and lo and behold a message from the offices of Senator Brown.  Embedded in the message was a U-Tube of Senator Brown pleading the case for unemployment on the Senate floor, and included in his pleadings, were snippets of “Rebecca from Crawford county’s” letter!  Somehow, Senator Brown’s acknowledgement of my fears, as well as genuine empathy for my (and millions of others) situation, began to turn my resigned mindset around.  Now, the Senate still proceeded to shoot down an unemployment compensation extension on June 24th, but I felt a spark of the old activist in me and a recognition; nothing changes, if nothing changes.  We can choose to be sheep going to slaughter, whining and bleating all the way, or we can move out of the flow of the crowd, outside of our comfort zone, and ask some questions. Whether it is in politics, professional endeavors, or relationships, our voice cannot be heard, and change cannot begin until we speak!  
The second thing I recognized, is my mindfulness practice does not always mean I will be in a Zen like state.  At some point, I climbed on my high horse thinking I had arrived, The Sage of Serenity! I was  a newbie practitioner for God's sake.  The act of mindfulness is observing, and acknowledging, WHAT IS in the present moment... without judgement. For days, I was observing the fear, tears, hopelessness, frustration and fatigue of my current state.   I was pummeling myself to a pulp in trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, what I needed to change to stop feeling the way I did.  I had built a relationship with my God, was meditating and connecting with Him, being grateful, to the best of my ability.  Then, someone dear to me said, “Hey, right now, your life does suck!”  It occurred to me, all of those feelings were justified and legitimate based on the uncertainties that have faced me. The key was to mindfully OBSERVE, FEEL, and ACKNOWLEDGE them, without letting them define me.  Or, allowing them to become my story.  
The most profound thing I learned, is how incredibly blessed I am in having friends who know me so much better than I know myself.  When my mirror gets steamed up with the fog of my perceptions, those beautiful angels, wipe the glass clean and look into that mirror with me, contradicting my visions and reflecting back, what THEY see.  When I see failure, they see risk-taking. When I see foolishness, they see adventure. When I see impatience, they see desire. When I see delusion, they see hope.  When I see pain, they see growth.  When I see lack, they see a full life.  When I see weak, they see courage.  The kind of courage that allows me to feel sad, angry, hopeless and scared, for a time. The kind of courage that has encountered many obstacles, yet continues to rise over and over again.  The kind of courage that could never “settle” for a lobotomy of the spirit, in order to enjoy the safety and  predictability of a life at the sheep ranch.  
The past week has not been a wasted week of fears and frustration as I initially thought.  It has been one that has reignited my flame of authenticity, no matter how things appear in the moment.   And, it has made me so incredibly grateful.  While I may not have a job, or the fulfillment of my purpose and dreams right now, I have so much more than I could ever wish for.  I have a Light inside, Whose love reaches out, nudges my angels, and says, “She’s doing it again. Will you please go clean off her mirror!”