A place of deep contentment

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This long weekend, I had planned for an extended trip to Macedonia and Greece that quite simply just didn’t work out despite all my efforts.  What’s more, I had no plans on how I’d spend the Easter holiday.

Well, as it turned out I needn’t have worried. The magic of Paris intervened, and I had a wonderful adventure of a weekend filled with new friends and old, and most importantly, I found that I don’t have to move to be happy.

France is still something very special, after all this time. And in parallel, as I’ve spent more and more time with people who really appreciate me, I realize I am a work of art no less perfect and lovable in my imperfection.

The past few years have been a time of intense searching, and a fair amount of suffering. My life wasn’t so bad, and yet I wasn’t sure if something was wrong with me, if it was ok to be happy, if I was in the right place.

This weekend, the answer has come loud and clear- the still small voice still loves that I am here.

And even more importantly, loves me.

I found what I was looking for, thanks to a series of seemingly unfortunate events. Maybe now I don’t need the universe to go to such lengths to impress that lesson on me.

A weekend in Paris is still priceless and beyond compare.

And I know, deep in my soul, I am in the right place at the right time, and full of profound, enduring joy.

The other side of sorrow

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For the past few days I have been feeling blue, but overall moving forward. I am not the person I thought I would be. I distanced myself from someone I considered a friend although I never fully trusted her. I have felt the pain of loneliness keenly, and the ever present shame of my realized fear of not being the person my parents wanted me to be, especially in regards to my turn towards Buddhism, which at least right now seems to be a liberating spirituality that releases my inner joy!

There is also the lingering sorrow it is hard not to beat myself up about- the fact that I wasn’t confident and mature enough to get back together with my ex when I came back to Paris and now I see him with new eyes and he’s unavailable. I know it’s not all on me, but I am still disappointed in myself, especially now that I realize he was the nicest guy I ever was involved with. If we had been together I think there are some parts of growth I wouldn’t have experienced, but right now I just want someone to hold me and I wonder how great I am be without a partner, without my basic emotional needs met.

I’ve also been moving forward in terms of the small habits that will help me take care of myself- I’ve been recording what I eat, keeping an eye on my accounts, and I did start cleaning my apartment. Though last week I only went to the gym once, I have been seeing and feeling a difference, and it scares me in a way. I am proud and happy, but it scares me.  I must believe that I deserve it, and look in the mirror and see the changed person and own that this is me.

I am a completely different person than when I was depressed.

I know this even more deeply since I have hesitated in my choice of holidays between a return to India, to see Ladakh near Western Tibet, without much of a fixed itinerary, and South AMerica, where I could see most of the highlights of Bolivia, Peru, and a bit of Chile in a whistlestop tour. I think I have found the balance though, and will leave some of the highlights for another time so I have a little more than a week completely at play, unscheduled. And since I just discovered a Tibetan restaurant within 15 minutes walk from my apartment and I already go to the Tibetan Buddhist center, perhaps there’s no need to go all that way, and I feel like I will get there eventually.

So in short, I am not the person I used to be.

Where I once sought, trying to find a home in one of the Abrahamic god’s many mansions where I spent my life feeling ashamed of my humanity, I have found a man of India who claims I am already a Buddha.

Where I once wanted to see all the treasures of the world as fast as possible for fear of missing out, I now seek depth in addition to breadth, and I know travel (and life) is about what can’t be captured in a photograph.

Where I once recoiled from life in learned helplessness, depressed and constantly at war with myself, I am slowly but surely becoming a friend and taking care of myself no longer feels as strange.

Where I once wanted to be normal and to fit in, especially with my family, I am haltingly coming to a place where I feel complete and good in myself. As friend told me, “You don’t need validation, you need a mirror.”

So things are going well, and I am fighting with myself less and less, becoming more and more honest, and letting many things go.

I am going to a new place I have never been before, to become a new person. I have already had to leave so many of me behind, and I know now that once a self is sloughed off like a snakeskin, it is gone forever. With its faults and its false comforts, its pleasures that will not be experienced as such again, its particular pains that have become so familiar they are almost a comfort, its familiar cage proscribing my range of motion.

 

The Panther- Rainer Maria Rilke

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly–. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

What is a panther when it leaves its cage? Space and joy- all conditioned things are impermanent.  Both the cage and the panther are an illusion. This next stage of Meganness is but a shadow play upon the wall.

And the light, rather than coming from the beauty of the forms, of the ideal of pantherness or of cage, comes from the truth of formlessness, of infinite potential, of the fact that all things were and are and will be and could be and are not.

I am not real, I am a dream, and I am the dreamer.

“I” is not real, “I” is a dream, the dream is one with the dreamer.

Where is the sorrow in that? That fairy stories are no more true than I make them, and I cannot force them to be.

 

The secret reason I don’t have a boyfriend (yet)

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So basically at some point I got it into my head that the relationship would happen when I was “finished” and I should wait until I get my shit figured out. Even a good friend told me that it wouldn’t be possible for me to be in a lasting relationship because I am growing too fast.

But I think the real reason Is because I thought that my growth would stop or slow down. I didn’t tink my relationship woud be my teacher and I did think there was something kind of brave and proud and feminist and holy about being a woman alone in the world, not answerable to anyone.

i was/am afraid of altering my life for someone who might not be there to morrow.

I have been very afraid of not being my full self because of whatever person being around there, that there is so much to discover in me that might remain buried due to the desire to stay the eprson that my lover fell in love with.

But I think a real good love sweeps the sand off the buried treasure, even if I will have to do the heavy digging. I think it is possible to be with someone and continue to grow, even though there’s a possibility to grow beyond or in different directions from each other and the relationship.

And the truth is, my growth is the most important thing to bme, period. I wouldn’t consciously sacrifice my growign self for a relationship. And perhpas alwas going for guys who were in some way unavailable was a way to get the high of romance without the commitment and chnage.

Well, I think that I would learn a lto from letting a great person into my life.; I think there’ sno reason why being in a coupl ehas to be the endof wandering, solo travel, r just the many aspects of my life I’ve come to enjo/

But I think I can finally trust myself to fall in love, because I really really know that I love me first.

Becoming a Buddhist

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So apparently without any great deal of ceremony one can be a Buddhist without knowing it, so long as one identifies with the 4 marks of Buddhism: https://www.lionsroar.com/what-makes-you-a-buddhist/

But for the past few months I’ve been going to a Buddhist centre, and I’m really happy to be there when I’m there and happy to be around the people I’ve met there.

I spent a weekend listening to teachings, and it was the first time in my life I felt that I had no reason to feel preteternaturally guilty for everything and part of a broken and fallen world, but rather something good because everything is basically good. I had a glimpse of this one day when I was in a Zen garden in Japan looking at lotus flowers, which inspired my first tattoo which I got a bit on impulse though I’d been thinking about it forever.

I still love the teachings of Jesus though, and I”m not 100% sure he didn’t rise from the dead, or that there’s not something to the whole Catholicism thing. Like Buddhism, it absorbed the rituals and traditions of the pagan religions that came before it, and there are som ereally great and specifically Catholic Christian things in this world. And the Dalai Lama, while nothing like th ePope and not speaking for all Buddhism let alone all Tibetan Buddhist schools, says one should be left alone in the faith tradition they were raised if not they risked great confusion. My Buddhist center definitely didn’t proselytize, and it was me who came to them and they accepted me without question, even when I acted a bit weird on purpose and scoured the internet to find reasons to think they were maybe not so great as they seemed.

I also decided I really want to go to Buddhist Northern India this summer, and I’m already reading travelogues about it. True, I could change my mind in a few weeks but I think whatever happens with my personal relationship to Buddhism it would be an amazing trip and I would learn a lot about myself.

Buddhism makes me so happy and fills me with a lot of calm but also a lot of questions. It’s just such an exciting thing to explore. I think I probably will go all the way with it, unless something in my heart speaks to stop me. Now I can feel it is mostly my mind, and fear of Hell, that causes me ot resist. Yet I am sure that Jesus is good.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

 

I know I need to change my life

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“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”- Hugh Laurie

“For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.”

― F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

So I want to do something amazing in addition to my regular job, something that comes from the heart, and I want to improve my regular job, and probably change within a certain period of time. I want to work from the heart. I want to do something I am proud of on my deathbed. I don’t want traveling to be the only thing that keeps me going, and I want to have wow moments in my professional life. I don’t want to struggle financially, and I want to have everything I want and need. I do believe I am incredibly blessed and things are quite abundant, but I could use a big more abundance ot become debt free and have more money to travel and save and do interesting things with like invest in projects that are important to me. I want that money to come to me and I want to keep it, or invest it wisely.

I’m not really sure exactly what I want to do, but that’s an exciting thing. I am coming from a place of openness. I am likely to make some discoveries along the way taht could change everything. I want my life to be full of surprises and adventure and yes, abundance.

There is more to me than I give the world now in my professional life, and I want to make a bigger contribution, and receive more abundance starting now to help me make that contribution and pass it on to others.

My life is really good, but I want to really make it rock and give it my all to live consciously happily abudantly andjoyfully.

I want a man who loves my fire

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You cannot use someone else’s fire; you can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe you have it. Audre Lorde

Once, rising from bed, the proud goddess that I am, my lover caught my eye, and he saw my light. I could see it reflected from him. I felt myself, in all my strength and independence and power, and I could see that it attracted him. But he wasn’t quite strong enough for it, and it was not his to catch.

In fact, he appreciated my strength but it also repelled him. He wanted a woman who gave chase, who didn’t love him too much, who didn’t have any more emotional courage than he did. Once he told me, he would do another to be with the woman he loves but he wouldn’t know what to do once he had her.

That woman is not me.

A few weeks ago, seeing an ex-boyfriend from years ago, I realized what it means to have someone look at you as if you were magic. I saw him again, and I was my shining, saucy self. Today I’ve just dedicated an essay to him, and sent it to him. Yes, I am chasing him, a bit. But if he isn’t repulsed by it, if he’s been waiting to know for sure what I want (he does have a girlfriend), maybe he will make that change and cherish me instead.

I deserve a man who worships my fire but doesn’t completely bow down to me. I deserve an equal who will only fan my flames, not snuff them, not tell me I am crazy or out of control or that he doesn’t like how I dance or how many lovers I’ve had.

I deserve a man who is not scared of me, who is not going to try to hack off pieces of me to get me to fit into his mould, who wouldn’t change a thing, who will still love me when I’m no longer young, and in the brief moments my spark falters.

I want a love that will set my world ablaze, and me with it.

Alive again

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So I didn’t go to Brussels with the Buddhists as I expected this weekend, but it was the first time in a very long time Paris was sunny and warm enough so it was comfortable walking around in a winter coat.

Paris is amazing. It really is. It is enough.

There is something special about it, still, always, forever.

I don’t regret falling in love with Paris at all, and I almost feel like I don’t need to travel, really. It would be a nice extra, but it’s not the only thing in my life. Well, maybe it is still semi essential but the beauty of my regular life is apparent to me again. I am feeling the joie de vivre. I am no longer the shell of a person I’ve been for the longest time.

I treated myself to a massage today, and the feeling rose upon me that there is absolutely nothing I could have done to avoid my depression and all the problems that came with it. Seriously. There’s nothing I could have done differently, and if I had picked an entirely different path in life, I would have suffered from the same root problems even if they manifested slightly differently, although my hunch is that they would ahve manifested the same way whether I became a teacher or an artist.

And so i am finally alive again, in love with life again, feeling able to love again, and the colors haven’t been so bright in years.

I had to turn into liquid and be bound in my coccoon for all that time, but the time is coming to fly, finally.

The Valentine I didn’t wish out loud

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Johnny Cash on Paradise:

This morning, with her, having coffee.

 

Hello Sweetheart,

Today I missed you more than usual. We talked on gchat though, but you aren’t mine so I didn’t send you any kisses.

To be honest, when we were together, I didn’t think you were that special. I mean, I didn’t think you could ever be the one, and I thought I might like you just because you were there, and it had been a long time since I’d had someone nice in my life. We didn’t stay up till all hours talking, you were (and are) really cute and the sex was usually pretty great so I wasn’t sure it was a real soul connection, just two people enjoying each other.

The truth is, I did know someone who felt like 7th heaven and the most intimacy I’d ever known for a brief moment, but he was never really mine the way you were. The one night I had with him, I thought his snores were cute and our cuddling bodies fit perfectly. The nights I spent you with, we knew our days together might be limited but they were also just everyday days.

My favorite moment with you has nothing to do with the magic of our meeting, or the best sex of my life, or even when you met my family and they loved you and you loved them and I was jealous of how much you played with my dog instead of spending every second with me.

My favorite memory is the first time I came to your house, and you made me dinner in return for the few times I had made you dinner, at my request, so I could try a typical dish from your country. It was tasty enough but my cooking is better.

We were done eating and having sex and were just sitting on your couch together, in your tiny house you lived all alone that was the same size as the house I grew up in. You put my legs on your lap and I leaned on you and shut my eyes while you watched boxing. I knew I was happy in that moment, but I didn’t realize how special the moment was until after.

And that even though you weren’t the perfect scantron boyfriend, you were really the best I ever had and the one I thought was the One would never be more than a dream, and probably out of kindness completely walked out of my life when I wouldn’t let the dream go. I fought for the dream but I didn’t fight for the imperfect reality of you.

You are not a perfect person to be sure but maybe I did drive you away with my distrust of you ever really liking me. I don’t think I ever gave you a chance to really love me, when I assumed there could never be nothing serious since you didn’t check the boxes and we didn’t come from the same background.

It was really difficult to know we’d have to say goodbye in two months from the moment we met, and I’m not mad we didn’t try to do long distance but like everything, I felt it as a rejection and that I wasn’t good enough.

I missed you so much, and I was so mad every time I doubted you felt the same way.

To think for three years we could have seen each other and neither thought the other was willing.

I can guess why you didn’t want to see me, with the last time we saw each other beign with my prejudiced friend warning me against you and telling me I could do so much better, and I assumed you didn’t really want me anyway.

Well now, here we are.

Maybe we will get another chance someday, maybe we won’t.

But please know, even if I didn’t know it at the time, I really loved you that moment on the sofa. And that time we had breakfast together, awkward, knowing it would be our first and last time to wake up together in your house. You were so beautiful and carefree and it was so sad and you were a little more serious than your usual happy go lucky self I was just beginning to know. And I loved you while you waited for the metro with me, holding my hands in the cold, kissing me with your slightly awkward wolfish kisses that made me feel like a lamb, respectfully though, just for me and not to show the whole world we were together. I didn’t feel the power of your kisses the way I felt the night of kissing with the one who was supposed to be the One, but maybe that was because I was young and not very wise. I didn’t know if you were so precious because I was lonely and it was an experience for the memoirs or because I really liked you, when we had really fallen in love at first sight and I decided to trust you before knowing you then got scared.

It was so much easier to put you in a box, to say you didn’t really want me and I wouldn’t want you for a longer term, and the One was going to work his way back to me and my life would go on as I had planned it. I thought you were a souvenir, and were too precious and rare and strange to be my everyday cup of happiness.

I’m sure if I want paradise, I will have to throw away the original box that has the cushion for the memory and ensures it can safely be displayed but just for the season.

I’m so happy you fell off the shelf and into my life once more, and so happy these precious moments weren’t so fragile, after all this time.

The REAL Good News: A life without shame

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I’ve spent the weekend with Diamond Way Buddhists at the local center, thanks to someone awesome who commented on my blog.

While this method of spirituality may not be for everyone, I’ve found it incredibly liberating and refreshing. Growing up as a Catholic, I just began to allow myself to openly question things about a year ago, about the same time I went to a psychologist because I couldn’t seem to shake the blues and the self sabotage that went with it.

What if I told you, there is nothing wrong with you, or with the world? What if I told you, we are neither fallen angels nor risen apes, but much bigger than our bodies?

What if I told you that that the universe arises out of spontaneous joy in infinite space, and is held together by love?

What if I told you that nothing but your own awareness was needed to find limitless, abiding joy, and there is no hierarchy or magic word or holy book to separate you from the truth of all that is?

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with you.

You, and every other sentient building, has the potential to live in endless joy.

“You” is just an illusion- you are actually part of all that is, and all that is, is good.

Basic goodness.

There is no sin, just karma- cause and effect.

There is no shame, because we are all Buddha.

There is no God separate from the universe. Read that again.

Emmanuel, “God with us,” is true always and everywhere, not just under the specific conditions of a Jewish messiah.

Buddha is not a god, it’s just a state we  all have within us, but veiled.

There is nothing to “attain,” nothng to strive for, we already are all that is.

All we have to do is wake up.

Have fun 🙂

 

Namaste,

MJ