Imagine that your life is a canvas or a screen, a picture made of pixels divided into tiny squares that come together to reveal the big picture – the wholeness of it. Sometimes, life feels as a series of squares, of compartments that are not related. We keep a home life, a work life, a church life, a secret life (in some cases), and so on. We disconnect ourselves from the big picture, and end up feeling anything else but whole. We lack continuity because we have compartmentalized our existence. In the process, we have separated ourselves from the source of it all, the divine force of our existence.
Sometimes, it takes a step back or a few steps back to change our perspective from a square by square or pixelated vision to a wholesome perspective. It takes many times, more than a few steps back, to realize the connection between all the squares, all the compartments of our life, and in the end, they disappear and all we see is continuity, neither beginning, nor end, but continuity. That is more than the big picture; it is the great revelation.
Turmoil – Great confusion; extreme agitation. (American Heritage Dictionary)
Sometimes, it takes turmoil in life to be able to live as intended. It takes confusion and agitation to wake up a soul, to appreciate the little things and to understand what is meaningful in life. To slow down to the speed of now, and realize that now is all there is. To understand the fragility of everything else and its immensity, as well as its simplicity. To understand divine connection between all and between one moment and the next.
Sometimes, it takes turmoil to shake us to the core so we can center our being once more. So we can forget about purpose and become purpose, so we can indulge in being for the sake of being, and listen to the poem of life whispering its verses as we are and we become.
Sometimes it takes turmoil to realize that divinity is just a veil away, and that veil is always wrapped around us, and within us. Sometimes turmoil is all it takes.
The other day, I was looking outside at the first signs of autumn, looking for an amber or red leaf here and there, while enjoying the silence that surrounded me. I could only hear the birds outside. The cats were sleeping, so the silence embraced the home. I love the green-yellow color of the grass as it is getting ready for winter to come. Autumn is a transition for nature, just as people have their own autumn seasons in life.
As I glanced at the tiny winding dirt path going from my neighbor’s home to her next door neighbor, I realized that I missed those early childhood signs of friendship and closeness between neighbors. The paths that were created by the frequent walks to a neighbor’s home, all natural friendly foot traffic. After living in New Jersey USA, for so many years, and closer to the city, I had forgotten those tiny paths crossing lawns that were so common in my childhood.
I understood that life has changed, and that the tiny dirt roads I admire so much in paintings depicting country settings had become my reality and a symbol of simple beginnings – unpretentious, serene, simple beginnings. I found myself reminiscing, with a smile and teary eyes. Sometimes what we view as the ending is just a new beginning.
As much as we plan our lives, unpredictability may knock at our doors at any time and we are forced to answer. Life is happening every day; life is every millisecond that unravels and it is continuity whether we understand it at the moment or not. Whether we measure life in heartbeats, brain function, hours, years, or the moment we open our eyes in the morning to mark another day, life goes on, and is, all the time. We may hope for better days but we are constantly living; we cannot hope to start living.
We take many things for granted – jobs, material things, water, electricity, a home, food, and unfortunately, even people. It is in the absence of any of these things (or all at once) when we realize their value. Have you ever thought of the possibility of losing any or all of these? How would you react? If the safety of your everyday routine were to be shaken and threatened, would you appreciate life more, however you measure life? Think of these things for a couple of minutes – from your basic needs to your more sophisticated needs or wants, and the people who make up your life circle.
To quote Forest Gump – “Life is like a box of chocolates … .” However, we don’t expect to find the box empty. Our challenges in life determine our level of strength. Our perception of these determine our level of sweetness many times, but it is up to us to add the sugar. Maybe tomorrow may start and be similar to today, but it is when this sweet familiarity disappears that we miss it the most.
Sanctum – A sacred or holy place. A private room or study. (American Heritage Dictionary)
As writers, we tend to be protective of our space, our writing space and writing time. We view interruptions as muse killings. We need our focus and total concentration on the piece at hand. Our space, whether a corner, office or other, is our sanctum. It is where we retire to create.
There is another type of sanctum, an emotional and psychological one, where we retire to recharge or survive when things are not going as expected or life brings on a new challenge. It is in that very private space in the heart and mind that we thrive, and because of it, we are able to come back, stronger and wiser.
Every person has a sanctum and the ability to access it depends in part of our vision of the now (the present events), and our vision of the future. Our vision is important, especially in times of duress and calamity, because from it depends if we have the courage to open the door to our sanctum. Opening that door means safety, in a way, and also that we give ourselves permission to rest before we fight back with all our strength and wisdom. Instead of hiding in plain view, we retreat to become stronger, wiser; we enter the safety and warmth of our holy place, our private space, in order to survive, be, and become.
The lines between reality and fiction become blurry when life turns out a series of unfortunate events. I know; I’ve been there. Whether you are a writer or not, when life becomes a challenge, you cannot help it when the feeling of being a character in your own novel, sitcom, or even comic book, starts to creep in. Sometimes, life does not make any sense at all or it may seem unfair. In those circumstances, one tries to find meaning or purpose in everything that goes on; however, sometimes there seems to be no purpose or light at the end of the tunnel. I know; I’ve been there too.
How does one survive life’s strongest blow so far? So far, because what we may think is the strongest blow, may not even be a whisper of what life will try to teach us. Sometimes, one has to stay with the process – show up every day, be there, follow through, and go on without making sense of it all, and without finding a purpose to it. One goes on because that is the only thing that makes sense at that moment. Sometimes, without a reason, without a why. What does not kill you makes you stronger. The adage is truth. In the midst of pain, disappointment, ruin, and many out of control emotions, the human soul must find a way to go on, to keep on being. Months become weeks, weeks become days, days turn into seconds, and the first blink of an eye in the morning. Another day; the nightmare continues. It was not a dream. One wishes consciousness away. However, somewhere very deep inside, one manages to find a weak fiber of strength to take on another second, hour, day, week, month… . To live through the next second becomes something to shoot for. The why, the purpose becomes secondary, reduced to poetry dust. At that moment, one may switch between feeling the most alive ever or feeling the numbest of deaths. A hurting reality can make you feel alive or dead. It becomes a thin blurry veil. Time is the process and through it another reality is crafted each millisecond. As long as one exists in time and space, whether the real or fictional you, life will go on – with or without meaning/purpose. Once one has been through the chapters, might as well stick around till the ending. After the experience, purpose is not so important after all, being is. To be or not to be; that is the purpose.
Losing a loved one is never easy. Whether a partner in life, a friend, or family member, it is one of the most painful experiences. Having to say goodbye when one is not ready is devastating, and it may render a person numb out of an unexpected dose of pain. One of the secondary themes in my novel The Five-dollar Miracle is the loss of a spouse, and the feelings and emotions that go with it.
Last year I experienced the loss of loved ones, and just a few weeks after I had finished writing a chapter dealing with this topic, a friend died unexpectedly leaving her partner experiencing the feelings of pain, loss, desolation, and so many other emotions that can only be described by someone who has gone through it.
As writers, we draw from our experiences when we try to convey through our writing, and the rest we imagine or draw from observation; we try to do the best we can when portraying what we have not experienced. Many times, we place ourselves in those situations fictionally, and try to understand or visualize the array of emotions surrounding a particular situation. At other times, inspiration seems to take our hand and guide us in our writing. We try our best, and as writers that is all we can do, but I can say with certainty that our writing will only match the synergy of our experience.
Photo by M.A.D.
Faith – Confident belief. Trust. (American Heritage Dictionary)
Doing – To perform or execute. To fulfill; complete. To bring about. To put into action. (American Heritage Dictionary)
Our faith is tested many times. We come out stronger or confused, in doubt, and/or unable to advance. When we want or need to do something we’ve planned, and we proceed with confident caution, that is the easy way. However, many times we have to proceed by faith, not knowing if the best plan that we made will work; that is, if the circumstances permitted planning. Otherwise, we must push through confusion, doubt, and even chaos, with only a little light ahead of us, barely visible – our bit of faith illuminating the way. We must do by faith.
Becoming petrified by the fear that confusion and chaos bring will hinder advance and growth. We may become stuck or a situation will turn worse. It is best to do by faith than succumb to fear. In any case life goes on, for better or for worse. When in doubt, act in faith.
Henry David Thoreau – His philosophy is best described as a praise to simplicity, nature, and in more common terms, “less is more.” To live in truth and authenticity.
It is in our nature to search for truth, our truth, and it varies from person to person. When we find it (or think we do) we hold on to it despite social trends or what people may think. I see a movement of many souls wanting to return to simplicity and to nature. Whether they go back to farming, move to the country, embrace tiny-house living, or sell everything and make RV traveling/living their new surroundings and lifestyle, they are all yearning for the same – the sweetness of a simple life.
Many times, a catalyst in people’s lives causes the longing, followed by action and change. The person who has not gone through this process might not comprehend, or think of it as crazy, but only one who knows finds meaning in his/her new truth. It takes simplicity of heart and freedom of mind to embrace your truth, whether you find it in a cabin in the woods or in a penthouse on Fifth Avenue, Manhattan.
To each its own, and to all, truth in being.
This post is a reflection on my experience. At one point, I had become fully engaged in multiple goals, personal and professional – maybe too many. I had always been a dreamer, and the type of person who felt guilty if there was a slot of time not filled with something productive. Multitasking sounded more than acceptable, and I engaged in it as well. It was right of my alley. I put a lot of pressure on myself over the past 10 years to accomplish everything that I thought “was due.” Some things I did not accomplish, some I started and decided to stop because the time was not right for them to be fruitful, and others, I decided to put aside for good. At times, it felt as if I was swimming at high-speed not to miss the boat that was already gone, or so I thought. I tried to catch up with my dreams and with time. It was a matter of time before the crash.
I had to learn to slow down and live one day at a time. I discarded the word multitasking and adopted a new philosophy of living – one thing at a time, one day at a time. I stopped blaming “others and the situation” and accepted the truth – that I am the only one in control, and the one who sets the pace. I had to go back and retrain myself in various areas. I also learned to depend more on God and less on my vision of things, although I don’t consider myself a religious person in the popular meaning of the word. This process strengthened my faith and patience. I saw that I could express more little by little, step by step. I enjoy the task at hand more, and am able to widen my vision; I see more now. I trust God’s process more.
I was a heavy planner and I thrived on multiple lists both short-term and long-term, many times as far as a 10-year plan. I am not suggesting that planning is bad, on the contrary, it is healthy; obsessive or too much structured planning is not the best choice. I had to understand that life’s plans can change in a split of a second – it is called life. Life doesn’t get in the way, it just is. It is called living. I plan now for living, not for the sake of achieving. Some of you might argue that part of living is achieving, and I agree. I say that achieving without living is pointless.
Now, I look at a crescent moon slowly gaining its fullness. I look at the rising sun after the darkness, and I know that all happens one day at a time. All.