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Posts tagged ‘soul searching’

Re-inventing myself, midlife

What do I want to be when I grow up? This is not a question that a 53 year old woman usually asks of herself, but I keep asking myself that question as of late. I feel as if I am at a crossroads, like the train has stalled on the tracks, like I’m in a holding pattern waiting to land, or any other clever cliche you can come up with to say “I don’t know what I want to do with my life!” I walked the path of convention for many years; go to college, go to work, get married, raise a family. Then I opened the can of worms called awakening, and said hello to my soul. My soul doesn’t much care for conventional ways any longer. So many things in my life are so perfect; living in Portland, not working in healthcare any longer, even not owning a car any longer is a dream come true. But as I watch my IRA balance go down instead of up, my little scheme of living off of that until I die may not work any longer. So now what? I feel a pull in my soul to do some type of work, some type of soulful work, but I hear no clear cut answers. This morning as I melted down into frustration and impatience and fear about my future, I started to wonder if this time of non-doing is the lesson, a lesson in trust. Waking up to the fullness of my soul has revealed so many positive aspects of self, but there is also the shadow side. I learn I am impetuous when it is not appropriate, I am impatient and want things now, and I am controlling, thinking I know what is best for me. Maybe I have stalled so I can learn to let go, to let the flow of the Universe touch my life, and trust in that. So I work on those nasty attributes that make me feel like a child at times, and instead turn to the strength of my ever maturing soul to find out what I will be when I grow up, in this phase of my life.

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Enlightenment can be a dim light at times

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

                                                                                – a Zen proverb

It took a lot of soul searching before I could finally understand what that ancient Zen proverb meant. To me, enlightenment was something to be achieved, a state of being that maybe I would be lucky enough to touch, but really believed was only available to highly exalted Masters of any given spiritual path – not a common person such as myself. I looked at the “light” part of that word only, thinking that if I did touch any part of enlightenment, it would be a glorious path free from any pain or discomfort. How wrong I was in that assumption! Being enlightened does not equate to perfection, as we may think of it in our limited human way of thinking. We are in a place of duality here on this earth, and realizing that and experiencing the “bad” along with the “good” is the only way on the path to enlightenment. Now I don’t particularly enjoy the meltdowns; the box of tissues nearby, curled up in a ball, trying to figure out what precipitated the flow of tears and emptiness this time. More times than not, I find it is something seemingly trivial, something that bruised the fragile peach-skin of my ego. But once I recover and step back to assess the situation, my soul comes through loud and clear to remind me how strong I really am. Enlightenment is not a goal to reach and then sit back and bask in – it is a constant way of being. It is a state of grace that we still have when we stumble, it is finding love in all situations, it is respect for all people – remembering that we are all here to learn, and to learn from one another. And I find that the more I can touch my soul, the more I realize how blessedly imperfect I am! What a glorious revelation…

Success and failure are seen as part of a seamless, joyful whole.

Each is accepted and fully lived.

                                                                – Lao-Tzu from the Tao Te Ching

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