Life is messy

“Life is supposed to be messy. Being human means you will get your heart broken and your fingernails dirty.”

― Kaitlyn Jane Mauro

It’s been a rough holiday season for me. The road has been bumpy, and I’ve often been off balance. At the beginning of this month, I was just moody and tired, like a bear. Shorter, darker days contributed, I’m sure, as well as some serious work stress. Then, my mom got sick, and 20 young children (not to mention 6 adults) were killed in an elementary school on the other side of the country.

Psychologist Carl Jung founded a theory of the collective consciousness. The idea is that we are all connected in our subconscious minds, kind of like we share one giant dream-mind. I believe it, because I’ve had too many weird dreams and psychic waking moments to believe otherwise. So, when I get moody for no reason, like I was earlier this month, I sometimes think it is because I am tuned into the experiences of the people around me. I sometimes feel and take on other people’s pain without realizing it.

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Boundaries are good. I am a firm supporter of clear boundaries. But, sometimes, life is just messy. At times, you have to realize we are all connected, and if one person is in pain, we are all in pain. And if one person is liberated, we can all feel a small undoing of tension inside our souls. Nobody can live alone in a castle on the hill forever. Eventually, it all comes back around.

Take a breath now. Inhale, and exhale. Realize you are sharing this air with all life on this planet. You are sharing this moment with an elder in a small village in Guatemala. You are sharing this moment with a young man in Hong Kong. We are all here on this planet, now, swirling and whirling and melding and separating and reforming and coming together, again and again. And we are affected by the blessings and curses laid on every single person alive, now. We are a cosmic stew.

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Now, onto lighter topics. For those of you who read my last post about my mom (https://foolishsagewisdom.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/my-mom-is-dying-of-alzheimers/) with Alzheimer’s, I am so overjoyed to report that she is getting better. She started eating again, though she still cannot walk, and probably won’t, ever again, honestly. She has also perked up a whole lot, which means she’s good and irritable half the time. It has been a good reality check to see how easily she can go, and I am so grateful that it looks we are going to be able to enjoy another Christmas with her.

And a brief follow-up on my post on generosity, I hadn’t seen the homeless man I wrote about for a few weeks, and I wondered if he was gone for good. Then Friday morning, I was running home in the pouring rain from a morning yoga class that is around the corner of my house, and there he was standing on the steps of the business next door to my house. He asked me if I could help him out with some breakfast, and I pulled out a few dollars. Then, I went inside, scrambled some eggs, threw them in a box of leftover home fries and a muffin, grabbed a napkin and fork, and ran the package out to him. I even made myself late for work doing it, but it made my day. Seriously. It was the absolute best part of my day. Here is the link to the original post: https://foolishsagewisdom.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/generosity/

May we all be blessed with abundance in the coming year. May we learn to live together peacefully. Here is to the coming of more light. Image

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Generosity

I don’t donate to charity regularly. I don’t like to stop and talk to people asking for money to give to whatever organization. I’m not in the habit of passing money to homeless people on the street. Honestly, I don’t really know why. Maybe I think I can’t afford it, or I grab on to the stereotype that they are going to use it on alcohol or drugs. I tell myself I give back through my work at a non-profit (except, I get paid for my work, so I am also benefiting). Mostly, I am uncomfortable opening my wallet to pull out money, maybe because it highlights the fact that I have and they do not have. And that is a reality that is hard to reconcile. I feel like, to really face the fact, I would need to give everything. So instead, I give nothing.

There’s a homeless man that has been hanging out nearby my house lately. I’ve seen him a number of times hunkering down on the stoop of the business next door to my home, with a blanket covering his shoulders. He’s young, quiet, appears harmless, and wears an expression of suffering and extreme fatigue, as if he is fighting an eternal war with the voices in his head. I’ve heard him screaming at night, repeating at the top of his lungs in a agonizing voice, “Father, why have you forsaken me?!”

He recently approached me while I was in the middle of getting my 3-year-old son into his car seat, and asked me if I had money to spare so he could get something to eat. I reacted without thinking, in my habit of not giving, and my instinct of wanting to protect my son from a person who may be unpredictable, and I denied his request.

I felt awful after that. Here is this man, who is obviously ill, and in need, who humbled himself enough to ask for my help. Here I am, having everything I need, mentally stable (at least I think I am), healthy, and unwilling to share. I often complain about the illness of greed that drives the wealthiest to hold on to their wealth. How am I any different than them, when I cannot even spare a few dollars for this man to get some lunch? I believe we are all connected and need to help one another, but in practice, I don’t want any of those “undesirable elements” near my family or my home.

I have become exactly like the people I despise.

Something about this particular homeless man opened my eyes to that discrepancy between my ideals and my actions. Maybe because I started to see him as a neighbor, or maybe it is the aura of gentleness that surrounds him, but I am thankful to him. A few days later, I saw him again, and I gave him some money, and I apologized.

I want to teach my son compassion, non-judgment, and generosity; not fear and greed.

Last night, my husband told me a story that made me cry about a homeless man approaching him early one morning. The man came up to him, and asked him about his Roland bag. I guess Roland is a brand for a guitar synthesizer or something like that, and this homeless man knew that. My husband is a mortgage broker, but also a musician. I suppose he was touched that this homeless man knew this random fact that only a musician would know, because he opened up his wallet and handed the man a $50 bill.

I was shocked at this story. Yes, he was making good money at the time, when the housing market was booming (and no, he was never one of those corrupt mortgage brokers, I promise), but still, $50 is a lot of money to hand out. I asked my husband to explain, and he said, “The guy was like a brother.” He then said, that with this eye condition that he has (retinitis pigmentosa, which makes him completely blind in the dark), he always needs a lot of help. He knows exactly what that feels like, to be in need. And in this moment, it gave him great joy to help another person in need.

I am so happy that this man is the father of my child.

Connectedness in action. Humanity as one family. A great concept, and amazing practice. Giving to others, for me, is about expanding my heart. The joy that I receive when I practice generosity is more rewarding that anything I have to give. I am enveloped in warmth, connection, and faith that there will always be enough.

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. You receive from the world what you give to the world.”~Gary Zukav