My first weekend back from the holiday was cold and rainy and the weather was a great excuse to hole up, blankets and pug and books and magazines and tea, so much tea. My favorite kind of weekend. I set off on a two-day journey through ideas and stories, listening to podcasts, reading and writing. Making sure the pug had a good nest on the couch, his warm little body reminding me how long ago, folks used to warm a brick in the fireplace, wrap it in a blanket and put it at the foot of the bed on cold nights. I guess you could say I lived a one-dog night, all weekend.
What a luxury, to spend this time in a flight of thought through time and space. I’ve always loved reading so much. Falling into other people’s stories on a rainy afternoon is a lovely dream. I love the still bell of the quiet room, the sound of the dripping San Francisco day outside the window, the snoring pug a rumbling soundtrack. A cocoon of warmth and peace. I closed my eyes several times and wished this feeling into the world.
I love the quiet. I guess I’m in the minority, judging from how there are screens speaking to me pretty much as soon as I go outside: TVs in cabs and elevators and restaurants. I went into a beautiful restaurant over the holiday, and sat at a bar that was made of pale golden marble, lit magically from within. The back bar glowed blue between the bottles, and soft jazz played in the background. It was gorgeous, or I guess it was, when I could forget about the six plasma screens stretched above us, each of them playing something different. My brain doesn’t handle that well. I find myself absently staring at the moving images without recognizing what it is I’m watching, but forgetting where I am. Yes, I’m in the minority.
Anyway, I do love getting lost in an afternoon of story. Not only that, but I was connected with my best friend on and off all weekend, and we were trading recommendations of what we were reading, forwarding snippets to each other. It was exquisite.
She sent me this amazing account of a young woman, Cami Renfrow, who, in going though a horrific car accident and years of recovery, had an experience of meeting her true self, her self after death. I couldn’t really explain the story to you, (you can read it here, and download her book here), but the idea that I loved the most was that she saw, in the ether between life and death, how we choose our life, we choose our challenges, and that even the most difficult situations in life have been chosen by our self as a way to dissolve karmic blocks in order to move forward, up the ladder to enlightenment.
… for years after I returned to a normal type of consciousness, anytime I heard of a tragedy too big to recover from (losing three children in one day for example) my instinctive first emotion was a genuine sense of gaping awe and respect for the people involved, admiration that they would sign on for such difficulties, and for the potential for growth and useful power in proportion to their pain.
I believe when we are struck with challenges and suffering and we weather them with the most open heart we can – without blame or recrimination, without grasping, accepting responsibility for all of our own circumstances – we are each claiming a small win for the whole of life. We freely and joyfully chose our family, our flaws, our recurring fights, for our own good.
This is very freeing, this thought. What if I chose to see each tragedy and each struggle in my life as something that I chose beforehand? That it was something I selected in order to move forward? It certainly changes the way I see my life unfolding. If I think this way, then fear is not as pervasive. I am brave then, and let go of the “Why Me?” discussion. I let go of all of the ways I think things should have gone. I let go of pity and feel infinite compassion, as if I were seeing myself from a distance, watching Clementine struggle from the vantage of the true self. Neutral, connected with the idea that what lies in my path has been set out specifically for me to learn from.
I expanded this idea and started thinking of the bigger picture. In our world, there has been so much suffering for so long and it is now constantly coming to the surface, a surface so immediately and globally witnessed. Now, as clearly as we ever have, we see the old patterns of pain and misery, we see people who are so far from being connected to the infinite goodness that lies at the base of us, we see old patterns of believing that we should meet pain with more pain, old ideas of separateness and the illusion of duality, that we are not the other. It is all rising to the surface. What if we are choosing all of it? What if we have created this rocky situation because there is no other way for us to move together toward a clear and peaceful reality? Can that thought make us more brave? More adventurous in solutions? More certain in the power of compassion and love? Is the moment we are collectively creating so difficult because there is no other way to reach that higher plane?
I know, it’s easy to speak of such things when lying on the couch with a pug on my legs, sweetly and warmly dreaming. Put me through the suffering others are experiencing right at this moment and see how I do. But that’s exactly it. I am the other. Their suffering is mine, and my peace goes to them. I will suffer. They will be in peace. Together, we travel down this karmic road and will experience it all.
Anyway, another moment in the story that stuck with me was this:
To my great surprise at some point during the near death experience, the smallness of my last thoughts on earth stood out as one of the few things that would be a shame about my death. It seems like we need to hold the highest state we can − ideally through every moment of life, but at least as we pass through the needle. So I try to practice bringing my emotions to the highest space possible − boundless love, a keening gratitude, joy and peace. Surround yourself with books, music and other art that uplifts you, that brings you to a better self, and practice getting there in an instant. Just in case the mountainside comes at you fast.
I went to a movie over the holiday and there were about ten trailers before the movie, and every single one seemed to be about armageddon and the end of the world, dark visions of humanity and the future. I remembered, oh yeah, this is what people are watching all the time. I live in a bubble.
I can’t see these movies. Tim says I am an ostrich, putting my head in the sand and not wanting to see reality, and I guess that’s true to a point. I respect art and the right for people to put their vision into society, but I wonder how much of the big message is really being considered as these ideas get sent out around the world, with millions of dollars marketing them? How much does that stuff continue our pain? I see clearly the problems in the world. I see clearly the work that needs to be done to deal with the problems in society, the terror of governments, the fear of propaganda and the very awful misery being dealt out by the few. I also understand the need to escape into dumb stuff, believe me. I watched CaddyShack for the hundredth time last night. It was awesome. I love that little gopher.
I take responsibility for everything, all the misery and all the suffering. I also take responsibility for elevating my mind, so when I am asked to recognize solutions, they are clear to me. I certainly know the thoughts that I don’t want to be thinking as I rush to the end. I’m going to think a little harder about what I put in to my reality, so those thoughts fall underneath the higher vision.
What if we move through our moments skillfully, as the Buddhists would say. Grounding ourselves in each moment. My body is under the blanket. The room is quiet around me. The warmth of the computer matches the warmth of the snoring pug on my shins. The rain is a curtain of sound and shadow, keeping me from thinking too far past this immediate experience. I chose to close my eyes and fall into that self underneath Clementine, and to expand this feeling of peace and stillness out beyond my skin, into the room, beyond the walls, above the building, above the city, into the atmosphere, into the solar system, past the planets and the stars, galaxies and toward the edge of the universe that continues expanding out infinitely.
Can this peace I carry in me affect the world? Can this moment of deep, expanded awareness reach to someone on the other side of the planet, noble in their choice of struggle? I, too, feel awe for the bravery of each human who chooses to stay and fight for all of us. Each being who helps to move our karma forward to the bliss of our oneness. Even the beings who chose to create the challenges for us, the hated and the cruel. Can I feel compassion for those as well? Somehow, I think that’s an important piece.
I take responsibility for it all. I release any sense of victimhood. I will see this moment as something I’m choosing. I will work to keep my highest ideals in mind. Let me live without fear, and instead revel in challenge. Let me fall under the shame and the anger and the hatred and difficulty and meet all moments with a higher self, surrounding myself with the dreams of people who see the world as tumbling into healing.
In a few days, I’m going to sit down at a drumkit, a little jewel of illusion that I am in love with. I’m going to play music that has uplifted my soul, that has carried me through some of the darkest times in my life, for people whom I am connected to in the great web of karma, people whom I am connected to deeper than we’ll ever realize in this reality. I’ll be on stage with women I will love through eternity. Together we’ll celebrate in our best selves, and in doing so we’ll tilt the whole planet, the whole universe, toward celebration. Manifesting a moment for which I’ll be for ever grateful, the moment in which we are one.
You can hear me read this here: https://soundcloud.com/clemthegreat/majority-of-one