You want to know how I do it? I pray, I smile at people and make eye contact, I notice the trees, the flowers, and thank the sun. Sounds cheesy, right? I’m a mom – the Freak-Out comes, I promise. I meditate, I breathe deeply when I remember to, I hug as many people as I can. How cliché, right? Keep reading. I do whatever it takes, but not at all costs, I pay attention, I listen, I grieve as needed. I dream about the kind of world I want to live in, I send silent blessings to the people I walk past, and I “watch my wake” – just like a boat passing, I watch the way I move in the world and I take responsibility for how I use my energy. All of these things I do are ways to guide my rational thinking mind into peace and compassion for life so that Spirit has a large home within me. So that my intuitive mind can dance with the spirit in all things in service of the good of all, whatever shape that takes. So that the Divine love-light of beingness can take up as much residence as possible in my human form. I’m with Einstein in that I believe “the intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.” I also agree with his observation that “we have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
When I hear of violence and tragedy, the question of “what if” usually creeps around the corners of my mind and gets a little foothold of my attention. And, I. Freak. Out. I freak out in the face of my terror of “what if,” and I cry. I cry and I tremble and I despair. I sink into the mire of anger and grief – the ocean of unmet sorrow and trauma that flows over and through our culture. I drown in that ocean and watch my mind convince me that my kids are unsafe in that very moment. That I am unsafe, that disaster is about to strike – that harm will be done. When I get into this panic all I want to do is race to my daughters’ school and bring them home for no reason other than my mind has spun me into a mania of fear. I imagine the pain of innocent life taken, the unbearable grief of a parent who has lost their child… I feel a brief stab of the torture it must be to go on living in the wake of such utter tragedy. And then, like any storm, it passes. Tears dry, deep breaths, more prayers. None of my fear was real – it was imagined… but, what if? You know what was real? The emotions and thoughts I swam in during the Freak-Out. How did that contribute to that ocean of energy? After a Freak-Out I meditate, garden, tell someone I love them… I watch my wake and have compassion for my human self as I take some deep breaths and say a prayer for peace. My kids trot off the bus later that afternoon. I wonder if they have any idea why sometimes I hug them extra long and tight.
I think twice when I get mad at my kids for breaking something, or spilling something, or not brushing their hair so that it tangles into impossible snarls. I think twice about being snide to a stranger in the market because she cut me off in the aisle. I watch my wake. I think again when I’m about to hurry by a beautiful grove of trees, or a hedgerow of roses, or a elderly person shakily walking down the sidewalk. I’ve learned to pause, appreciate, and connect with the hidden beauty – the secretes of life tucked away in these mundane moments. They are our teachers.
As I’m writing this the final Autumn leaves are making their decent outside. I see the last bits of acorns littered along the driveway. Empty bird nests, barren garden beds… not a bug in sight. I don’t feel nature resisting this death cycle – just quiet acceptance. It troubles me that the news we hear in our contemporary culture feels so unnatural, and the deaths and tragedies that occur seem outside of the natural cycles of death. They are born out of that wave of unmet sorrow and trauma. Trauma begets trauma. What can we do and how do we do it?
This life is a place of practice and exploration – not perfection and making it out alive. No one makes it out of life alive – we know that’s absurd. Yet, we go on with unwatched wakes and unnoticed beauty – and we wonder why that ocean of unmet sorrow and trauma rolls on. We wonder why, we cry, we despair, we shrink our lives and ourselves down in the hope that Death will not see us, claim us, take us or those we love. We know shrinking is not the answer. We know cowering and quivering with despair is not what our intuitive mind – that blessed inner knowing – whispers.
Please don’t let fear of death create a fear of living. Since becoming a mother I’ve had to accept Death to truly appreciate Life. I see that sheer veil between life and death swaying in the breeze of our existence. We know death is on the other side – that realm into which we will all pass someday. But while it’s today and we are living we have this chance to explore love, compassion, joy, beauty, kindness, and the wisdom that lives in our soul. We have a chance to be an open house for the Divine, for the love-light of spirit can dance with our intuitive mind that always whispers to us the way to a life in service to the good of all. What a gift. I hope you never forget it or lose it in the illusions the rational mind so artfully spins. Yes, the Freak-Outs may come, but they too will pass. If the ocean of unmet sorrow and trauma ever rolls through you and you find yourself in a Freak-Out, please know that I’m here and you’re here, and so many others are here as anchors of love you can hold onto until that storm passes. And when the waters are calm, watch your wake, smile at the clouds, thank the earth beneath your feet. Don’t forget your sacred gift.