Category Archives: Living life to the fullest

Is life a test? Or a return to love?

“. . . events that happen in the moment belong to the moment. They don’t belong to you. They have nothing to do with you. You must stop defining yourself in relationship to them, and just let them come and go.”

—Michael A. Singer in The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself 

There’s always something, isn’t there? Just when you get all your ducks in a row, a fox bounds into the pond and scatters them all hither and thither. As you chase around after flapping ducks, you say: “Really? Are you kidding me? Is this some kind of a test?”

Life as a test is a popular notion with some. Rick Warren states it as a fact in his book The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? “Life on earth is a Test,” he writes. “God continually tests people’s character, faith, obedience, love, integrity and loyalty . . . God constantly watches your response to people, problems, success, conflict, illness, disappointment, and even the weather!”

Ugh. I find the image of a being—completely separate from me and the world—up there poking and prodding me to see how I react abhorrent.

A test implies that people either pass of fail. But what constitutes a pass? Who gets hurt when someone fails? And how does the word “test” make you feel? Intimidated? Scared? Paralyzed? Threatened? Overwhelmed? Under-prepared? Notice that none of those words have a positive vibe.

When contemplating why events happen the way they do and what I’m supposed to do about them, I prefer an idea that the singer Johnny Reid refers to in “A Place Called Love.” When he wrote the song, his grandmother had just died and his child had just been born. He asked himself, “Where did my grandmother go? Where did my daughter come from?”

His answer: a place called love. Sounds like as good an answer as any, and it is certainly much more reassuring than “A Place Called the Examination Centre.”

Scientific laws of the universe dictate that events we consider unpleasant or catastrophic must happen: cancers, tsunamis, wild fires. We have to accept the science, but we can choose to write our own story.

When that crafty fox leaps into our perfectly arranged row of ducks, don’t ask, “How do I pass this test?” Ask, “Who returns to love because of this?” Or “How do I help myself and others return to love?”

Return to love

Return to love


I like the image of real ducks all in a yellow fluffy row, so that how I wrote about them here. Another theory suggests that “ducks in a row” came from bowling. Early bowling pins were nicknamed “ducks,” and organizing them in their proper places before the next ball was thrown meant they were all “in a row.”

Backwards Brains: Wait for the click

A few years ago I ordered my first pair of progressive lenses. Before progressives I wore contact lenses and used reading glasses for closer work.

I drove my family crazy the first week with those progressive lenses. “I don’t know about my new glasses,” I muttered, over and over. It seemed I had to move my head too much. It seemed the reading portion of the lenses was too narrow. I fretted and worried that I had wasted a lot of money on glasses that weren’t going to work for me.

And then one day, my brain clicked. My brain figured out how to work with those glasses, and it seemed to do it instantly. One minute everything felt all wrong, and the next I was saying, “These glasses are GREAT! No matter where I look, I can see!”

I remembered that experience when I watched this video. It’s a reminder to me that sometimes we have to keep working at something that feels wrong or difficult so that we can give our brains time to figure it out.

Then, click!

Lawn-cutter or gardener: Ray Bradbury

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies . . . A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

It doesn’t matter what you do . . . so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching. . . . The lawn-cutter might just as well not been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

—From Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

In this season of gardening, it is worthwhile to contemplate: What flowers am I growing?

What am I changing with my touch, so it transforms into something more beautiful and a little like me when I take my hands away? 

A place for the soul.

A place for the soul.

Chance treasures: Waiting for the good stuff

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”

—from Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

In her time of simplicity at her beach house, Anne Morrow Lindbergh discovered that when she lay empty, open, choiceless as a beach, nuggets of insight, treasures of faith materialized in her mind like seashells gifted to the beach by rolling ocean waves.

“One never knows what chance treasures these east unconscious rollers may toss up, on the smooth white sand of the conscious mind, what perfectly rounded stone, what rare shell from the ocean floor.”

Relaxing by water opens one’s mind to ideas that wash into consciousness like waves to the shore.

For the next few weeks I’ll be enjoying some time by a lake. I aim to be patient and to lie empty, open and choiceless as a beach to see what washes in.

“But it must not be sought for or—heaven forbid!—dug for. No, no dredging of the sea bottom here. That would defeat one’s purpose.”

—from Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

new-horizons

 

The happiness choice

“To begin with, you have to realize that you really only have one choice in this life, and it’s not about your career, whom you want to marry, or whether you want to seek God. People tend to burden themselves with so many choices. But, in the end, you can throw it all away and just make one basic underlying decision: Do you want to be happy, or do you not want to be happy? It’s really that simple.”

—Michael A. Singer in The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself 

What stunning changes happened around you this summer? Did long-married friends of yours separate? Did an unexpected flower blossom in your garden from a plant that appeared out of nowhere? Has a loved one injured herself or fallen ill? Did you receive an unexpected gift of money?

We like to believe that our happiness depends upon whether we would choose or not choose the changes: separation or divorce, unhappy; beautiful flower, happy; ill loved one, unhappy; surprise money, happy.

In fact, our happiness depends on whether we choose or don’t choose the happiness. 

As Michael A. Singer points out in his book, The Untethered Soulwe unnecessarily waste a lot of energy resisting:

“. . . you’re generally using your will to resist one of two things: that which has already happened or that which hasn’t happened yet. You are sitting inside resisting impressions from the past or thoughts about the future.”

We are so busy pining for the life we wish we had, that we forget to enjoy the life we actually have. 

No matter what happens, may you enjoy a happy summer.

Happiness

Happiness

Blue Moon contemplations

“You have to understand that it is your attempt to get special experiences from life that makes you miss the actual experiences of life. Life is not something you get; it’s something you experience. Life exists with or without you.”

—Michael A. Singer in The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself 

good-and-evilToday we have a second full moon in one month: a blue moon.

Those with an astrological bent would say it’s a full moon in Aquarius, opposed by a Leo Sun, with Venus in retrograde. Those without astrological interest would say hogwash to all that.

I’m not sure about astrology, but I give the moon its due. It moves our massive oceans, so it’s not difficult to believe that a force that mighty at work all around me could have an effect on me too. It find it easy to believe that the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun creates some ebb and flow in me too.

At the very least, a second full moon in a single month makes me turn aside—take a break from my usual busy-ness and preoccupations—and pay attention. It makes me take a break from trying to make special experiences happen so I can appreciate life’s actual experiences.

The blue moon is not something I create. It exists with or without me. I get to experience it—the beauty of it, the gravitational pull of it, the brief and rare glory of it.

I don’t intend to miss it.

anansi2050

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