The Journey to Wholeness

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“You are never farther than when you don’t know where you are going.”

THe past few years have been really tough, but I’ve gotten to a point where I have accepted the place of not knowing. so much of my life was spent chasing after illusory certainty; in the form of achievement, co-dependent relationships, and trying to fit an ideal of beauty, goodness, correctness.

Though I met with uncommon success in many endeavors, I never really felt happier than I have at some of the lowest moments, when I just relaxed and prayed and smiled at the fact it was such a beautiful day. Or just the peace and joy of being alive, although growth often means following rocky roads. I have grown exponentially, I have shed misguided paradigms and let go of neuroses: coming to a point of realization, beyond jadedness and cynicism, to this; this is it, and reality- including the real me- is enough.

There was perhaps no more vicious battleground in the conquest of success to wipe away the constant feeling of shame and unworthiness than my body. I truly believed I had to have a certain body to be worthy of love, and to call myself a successful person. Recently I have rebelled against this idea, and gone to the extreme of sensual abandon and gluttony- but overindulgence is just another form of the same disease as self-starvation. I really can’t remember any moments in my life, except recently, where I felt perfectly at home in my body and happy with it. WOrking out helped me embrace my power, as well as beauty, and my sexuality helped me turn inwards to appreciate all that I am capable of experiencing in this form. The admiring, accepting, non-judgmental eyes of men were incredibly therapeutic to be quite frank. And seeing other women with similar forms as beautiful in the “embrace your curves” campaigns has been really helpful as well. Incredibly, even when I was losing weight and quite healthy without making any real effort to watch my weight, I still didn’t really feel happy with myself and mourned the fact that no matter what I did, I would always e “too big”- never a size 0 or 2 or even a 6 or 8, never tiny and petite and delicate, never willowy or really slender. And eventually I turned to food in times of stress, since I never really felt good anyway, and gained quite a bit of weight. Through the grace of god, this weight has shown me what unconditional love people have for me- that I don’t have to be perfect, or striving to be, that even if I fall of the wagon for a moment or even if I stop off of it entirely, there are still things about me to be proud of, and there’s ultimately nothing wrong with me. And it’s in this body, with more than a little extra, that I could love myself as I am, that I could love the so-called imperfections, that I could be not just slightly rebelliously overweight, but just cheerily thick and plump. I htink in the beginning it was partially to draw attention to my inner suffering, and to ward off men, and in away to express how unlovable I felt on the inside and how much I feared my own deep desires. Now it feels more like a much beloved home that I have neglected a bit, and I feel like I am finally able ot focus on being healthy instead of only being healthy in order to be thin. I htink I can finally do good for myself without being motivated by shame that I”m not good enough as I am or that there is something inherently wrong with me and I need to fix myself.  I don’t even need to be striving for the perfect body; I can just take care of myself- out of love, never shame.

So yeah, I’m feeling good.

Pretty much for the first time in my life.

In terms of going to business school, where I put on most of said weight and generally suffered a lot on the inside, even though on the outside things seemed to be going really well, I just realized the depth of the friends that I formed, and that alone was worth something- a lot actually. I found a career that I like, that I never would have imagined doing, that was never my plan, but works for me and lets me live a life I love right now. ANd to be honest, I really like my job most of the time. Leadership, communication, travel, cross-cultural stuff are my passions, and I get all of that in my current career. I have changed a lot, but in general it’s for the better. I do miss teaching at times and I would like to be some kind of freelance writer, but those things will come with time I think. And whatever I do in the future, even if it has nothing to do with business, I’m learning life lessons and how to work with people, which will be valuable my whole life. Plus, it helps me stay in France, and French is a really passion for me.

SOme days I feel closer to being able to put my finger on why. I am very articulate in giving a brekadown of what doenst work here, whereas what does work is much more difficult to put in the words. Suffice it to say I’m happy here for the moment, and that is enough. ANd I am learning and growing a lot.

For my love life, I feel much more like a complete person already, which is great. I feel less and less ned of love, though more and more want of it. But I realize it will be an exhilarating and terrifying at times new adventure. I am getting used to the idea that with the right person, I won’t be held back but rather lifted to the sky; and I am also more open to who that right person might be and how he may come to me. I don’t think real love is the clingy, saccharine, linear,well-defined thing I learned about in films and movies and even in the supposed parable of my own parent’s marriage. And I feel more and more confidence that it will come in it own time, when I am busy making other plans- although maybe I will leave a bit of room in them. At this point though there are still miles of things left to do on my bucket list, and I am not always the person I would like to be, I am a pretty awesome work in progress and whole as I am. Maybe in the future I”ll look back and say, wow, I didn’t know shit back then. But at the moment, I feel calmness and relief and spaciousness and peace like I didn’t ever really know before. ANd I think if someone wanted oto come share some of that space now, it would be ok.

ANd I hope he will stay forever and our paths will never part, but I know I will be ok without him if it comes to that. I don’t think true love is about fear of losing someone as much as it is what you gain by loving them, and letting yourself be loved. Love is powerful stuff and if you let someone love you, it certainly will change your life.

My perfect man is probably not a Catholic, white American like the cheese, slightly right wing, adorably in touch with his feminine side, Notebook-loving Marine turned economist anymore. Especially not when that person is not really open to giving and receiving love, and the timing is not right, let alone all the other ways in which the person may be great in theory but in practice probably couldn’t love me the way that I want to be loved. Who would love like a settling down but not necessarily an adventure, who is not necessarily able to put more out there and risk more than he has to give. My true love is not someone I have save, or teach, or make excuses for, but he may not match up to the fantasies of my fragile ego and will belong to the path I am actually on, and not the road not taken, that I always thought I would take by default.

No, maybe my lover is a true man like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-tW0CkvdDI

incredibly masculine and proud and strong and beautiful, though maybe not muscle bound and straight-edge.

ON an even deeper level, I’d say my vision of God him/herself has changed too. I continue to practice as a Catholic and even participate in special prayer novenas, but I definitely don’t take the pope as God’s representative on earth and instead of calling myself a progressive Catholic on the edges of the community and posessed of the most genuine spirit of Catholicism and not the anti-body, neo-Platonic bs, I’d say that my walk towards GOd, while enriched by my Catholic community, is more of an individual path through the twists and turns of my life more so than the institutional CHurch. I would still want to baptise my baby and probably celebrate my marriage in a church, but I know that churches are there for men and not for GOd, GOd does not need the big beautiful building but we so often do. ANd it’s beautiful and in service to God, so there’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s also nothing wrong with realizing He really is everywhere and in everything. I haven’t really worked it out yet and I don’t expect to. I want very sincerely to please God and I hope I am corrected if it is obstinacy and not genuine understanding that makes me take space from the church, but at this time I remember the spiritual courage of all those once excluded by the church now revered as saints and I feel that that is also a way to God, and quite possibly a truer one.

So my understanding of God, life, love, and even having a body, has expanded considerably. I no longer have a goal or welldefined ideal; I’m not even trying to define one. But what I do have is a direction, and the whisper of my heart, and the lapping of the oars against the water as I row further and further away from the shore, not really sure of where I am going, but ever more sure of the Way.

~

I am actually about to move to a new apartment and won’t have internet there for a few weeks. i’m also going to morocco and very excited about that. I”m not really sure about whether I’ll start up the blog again, this seems as beautiful an ending to a tumultuous and incredible time in my life that prompted me to write the blog as any.  So maybe I will see you again, and maybe I wont; or perhaps it will be in another form.

In any event, please know that your support has been incredibly transformative for me. You have been a big part of the path and I want to thank every one of you who read even just one time. I hope I’ve been able to give you something as well.

God bless you and namaste.

MJ

Silence is a good sign!

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I feel like I have less to say and think, and more that I am just accepting.

I’ve been tortured over whether to stay or go, but I know I”m going to stay, and I’ll find a way to make it financially viable.

I’ve found my voice, and learned to listen to my heart, so while I will deal with practical matters, I won’t let greed or ambition or social pressure drown out my inner voice.

Most of all, I won’t let my need for achievement crowd out my happiness in the moment. I will let myself feel happy no matter how “imperfect,” I may be or how far I have strayed from the plan.

I will let myself find my center, and my bottom, and feel my bottomless ego driven desires fulfilled by something deeper and more spiritual.

I will let myself love France, and Paris.

I will even let myself love my corporate job. I’m not working for the man; I’m working for me.

ANd most of all, I will open my heart to love in all its forms. Even if it doesn’t come the way I expected, even if it doesn’t fit the checklist, I will receive the person who fills my HEART with JOY and my soul wih Rapture, and I will let this person into my life and give him a place to stay, permanently.

I will let myself commit.

I will let myself folow God’s path for me an dnot the one that I planned on.

I will let myself love life.

I will stop striving for any outside ideal of perfection.

I won’t put off being happy.

I won’t be fooled into thinking that things or achievements are what life is about.

I will find my meaning in discovery, in giving, in learning and leading, and teaching, and most of all in loving.

I will finally let me love myself.

I will throw away the checklist I had for myself, asking only that I b happy, healthy, truly wealthy, loved, in love, loving, kind, and wise- to be radiant, inside and out.

I am so grateful, and so ready for more good things no matter how far they take me off course! Life is for living.  I’m glad I finally get that.

Truly I am better off than a mere billionaire= while I am open ot change in my life, at this moment I am really, truly, happy an dI have the grace to know it.

I pray the same for you.

Namaste,

MJ

A Time to Write

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So I haven’t been writing as much in the past couple of weeks and I think that’s for two main reasons

1) Have been trying to listen rather than speak

2) Have been trying to feel instead of think.

Instead of having long and convoluted thoughts about the universe I needed to share or honestly just things to complain and wonder about, I’ve been out there living life and most importantly, trying to get in touch with my deep self and wondering why things aren’t going in the direction I wanted.  And things have been a little stressful in general.

I also don’t have so many certainties to share. There’s no one in my life that I’m convinced is the one or am completely blown away by. I do have a friend that maybe will one day be more than a friend, and thinking of him feels me with something quiet, soft, and sweet. It’s a subtle feeling that seems private and probably more genuine, and the thing is, he’s real- and as such doesn’t meet all of my sometimes silly expectations, and perhaps even more scarily, he’s a real person in my life who is accessible and kind and seems to want to be a constant figure in my life. He’s left Paris physically, but as a presence in my life he does not seem to be going anywhere. ANd this is someone I have told some deep dark secrets too, who has seen me as I am. Regardless of what he outcome might be, he is a healing positive presence, he is not an opium dream I”vebecome addicted to, and did I mention? He’s not a dream, he’s real.

It seems as though letting go of expectations is a huge theme in my life right now. I was hoping that things would work so I could stay at my job and get a big bump in salary and that I would know by April. I am really happy with the people I work with and the content of my job has gotten more and more interesting, but as it turns out my beloved manager may be leaving.  And who knows what may happen but the big salary bump seems less and less likely, a permanent job is not entirely ruled out but does not seem like a strong possibility, and I may have to take a significant amount of time- say 4 months- between contracts for legal reasons- which woud more than negate any small bump in salary. Although when I first heard about it, it didn’t seem so bad, just a big challenge to save up for and a good opportunity to travel.  Actually it did seem bad. ANd it’s really challenging not to compare myself to others and feel I deserve better, not to mention it is increasingly painful to think of th salary I am foregoing and theadditional taxes I am paying by staying here.

ANd yet…

I walked around Paris and had a moment of clarity. FOr me clarity and really listening to myself is not always easy. I tend to process the outside world and ask everyone for advice and just do anything besides admit to my subjective well being. I want to be good, I want to be the best, I want to be successful, I odn’t want to be lacking in any area, Iwant to be outstanding, and I want to feel good enough. It’s a feling I have struggled for for a long time, and the moment where I feel like I’ve made it seems elusive. And there are so many metrics in which I am not “winning,” at this particular moment. I fel like I fucked up and everyone else is doing better than me, is more mature, more realistic, less silly and romantic, more responsible.

And then I saw the sunset.

I realized that I have made it- I have been living a childhood dream. For reasons beyond my comprehension ever since I was a child I wanted to speak French fluently, and I do.

MOre than that, though my love affair with Paris was anything but a coup de foudre “at first sight,” I do love it. WHy? Because it’s beatiful ad charming and yes, romantic. America is my country, but France is my home.

There are many good things that have happened to me, and sharing a special moment with friends and many things that could have happened anywhere, but there are those moments walking into the sunset where I know I am right where I am supposed to be, and I love it even if I don’t always understand why. I am committed, and with commitment things begin to work when you do.

And it’s a waste of my life, of my time and energy and mental health, asking why do I feel this way, why do I have to feel this way, why can’t I be an automaton just seeking the most optimal, self interested linear path to my goals. But whatever else I have not accomplished, I have followed my dream and even better, achieved it which is not given to everyone. My heart is teaching me to be happy if I’ll just listen and let go of things that don’t really matter that much in the end. Because in general, I love my life. This is it. There’s no lack of authenticity, no lack of heart. The ups and downs of life are quite real, and I am completely real here, as I am living my dream and creating a life.

I don’t know if I’ll stay in Paris forever of course, but with Paris and France in general I htink it’s a place I’ll always want to go back to. Yes, I am spending very formative years here and that is embuing everything with a certain primordial fondness, but I chose to. Despite many obstacles. And that says a lot.

So I’m asically at a point where I need to accept and be grateful for my subjective well being, my true wealth, and let the objective measures take care of themselves and be patient. There is no one to compare to when you are living your own truest life.

And to really do that with an open heart, I have to let go of my expectations, which are just a huge burden. I have to find happiness and peace and self worth within.

And I need to just face my problems, say a prayer, and do my best. NO one can ask me for anything more, and many things are really not in my control.

But I”m happy that I am doing what I think is the most important thing in life, and that is making the msot of the time that’s given to you.

I don’t have any answers or slutions or plans to make any big changes now, no grnad conclusions except to share the whispering of my heart: You are home.

Namaste,

MJ

Space, Commitment, and Freedom

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It’s one thing to know what you want, it’s another to create or attract it. But the very act of naming it is a first step. Having had as many miracles as I”ve had in my life, I know there’s a lot just to saying a little prayer and wishing on a star.

But there is of course more to it than that, and not just brute force effort.

We have to create the space for that change to happen.

In my case, that will probably mean waking up earlier every day to write, every day, even if it’s just a small amount.

ANd in terms of attracting love, I need to have my own life uncluttered in order to make room for someone new.

It’s quite real, this feeling of wanting something real and solid, not just an ethereal rainbow you try in vain to hold in your hand, but the solid gem your finger, a new part of you as permanently etched as a tattoo, that throws the light on the walls.

Someone to hold in your arms, someone to make plans with, someone to eat with- that’s what I”m looking for.

I don’t need a platonic image, something so perfect it can’t survive, a bit of lightning that strikes once and never again, lighting up everything around it for a brief moment only to cede abruptly to the dark of night.

Not an image of what could have been, or what should be; not someone to demand approval from, not someone from the life I thought I was supposed to lead.  Someone to free me instead of domestic me; someone to tousle my hair instead of straighten it; someone to love me, 20 extra pounds or not.  Someone who doesn’t provide a real incentive to change, but encourages me to be more of who I am.

Someone who I look forward to giving and receiving daily acts of kindness with, and not just grand romantic gestures of high romance.

A commitment that will make me freer to do the things I really want to do, because I’ll have someone to encourage the best in me and whose vision of life will make mine richer.

The Meaning of Life- Part Infinity

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The second you realize writing is one of the most important things n your life, and actually the main thing you’d like to do with it, the blank page gets a lot scarier.

It was much easier to hide behind this being a hobby and thinking my day job was my real raison d’etre.

But really, my day job is what gives me material and perspective. I still have a lot to learn.

After only a year in business, I”m pretty sure that it’s really not for me. Funny how I also had this feeling all throughout grad school. But when I asked myself the question, if not this, what else? I had a pretty blank response except something about teaching.

But what would I teach? that’s always been the baffling part. Maybe I will be a business professor someday, but ultimately I”m happy for this time I”m working on geting mastery in something and exposure to a whole new world. I have the best day job in the world. It definitely aligns with my purpose and has helped me to discover it more and more.  Just because it may not be the ultimate vehicle doesn’t mean it’s bad in any way.

But the truth is, I have felt like what I am doing is a little empty. I enjoy succeeding and being a fly on the wall to observe everything. I”m learning a lot. But when I picture success, it’s not necesarily the corner office- or at least not that alone.

Success for me is having freedom in terms of both time and money. And mostly, just doing things I actually want to do with my life. SO the boring and difficult things feel like they are going towards something I really care about, in addition to paying the bills and providing a distraction outside of work.

I can’t be too tough on myself- another lesson from this year. Perfection is for amateurs playing video games- making mistakes is for warriors making life or death decisions.  Life during my schooling was pretty easy in the sense that you just had to folow the rules exert a little bit of effort and pass go, hopefully winning a little medal or something. And everyone got a door prize. Now, I also feel like I”m in high schoool. To a large extent, I have greater autonomy than I did, but my time is very structured and while it is probably good for me at this point, I know that this is a skin I am growing out of. I haven’t learned all it has to teach me yet, and for the moment I like my job and it’s all quite bearable, but you know the way you boil a frog is by raising the temperature a little at a time.  And despite my “bonne eleve,” type A tendencies, I have made some mistakes and failed to plan in a big way. I find it really hard to muster the discipline to order my life outside of work, and I feel like work really drains me.

Now I know work really drains everyone and adult life is hard, but I want something better for myself. Something a little lighter.

A little more woo woo and fluffy for some.

But once when I thought of success, I thought of a big beautiful house in the country, writing/teaching/researchin ga few hours per day, and spending the rest of the time in wonder, and with my family.

NoW I think maybe I”ll ahve that house in the country, or a big apartment in Paris waiting for me, but that lifewill involve many quests, many adventures.  And the itchy feet will always lead me home.

But home is where the heart is. It is not always where my family is physically located.

It is France, though it is also being home home with my family for Christmas.

It is that guy that I may or may not have met yet, the person who really knows me and loves me and accepts me.

And maybe someday it will b the pitter patter of little feet, an extension of myself yet completely separate, completely their own personalities.

Maybe the point of the journey is not to get all that you always wanted at the end. The purpose is not even to help you set a goal- to to define exactly what you want, in minute detail, so you can make it a reality sheer force. Maybe it’s more about being open to all that life can bring.

Maybe it’s a love of life that transcends everything, just a giant, blanketing, pervasive love that goes beyond countries, religions, mountains, oceans, continents, languages, from philosophy to accounting and back again.

And beyond bestowing any skill or material resource, the fruit of the quest is the courage to just keep going, over and over, to keep scaling that hilltop to see the sun rise, to see the sun set. Knowing it will do the same tomorrow, and yet being grateful and amazed to see it one more time.  To love this day, even though it will never come again.

~

Finally, we kill the buddha. We let go of the biggest of all illusions- that there is somewhere to get to, that we are ever anything other than cosmic children, swinging on stars.  There is no where to get to. There is no where to go back to. There is no real forward or back, only now. And each now will have its blessings and sorrows. There will be moments of great triumph, there will be treasures found and unburied and taken home.  But every ending is another beginning. And to ask for a new beginning, you must accept an ending.

So in the time that remains to us, though life is never really lost, living- with enough vulnerability to miss the sun when it sets at night and enough courage to venture out into the darkness to see the stars-is the power and the glory, from now till kingdom come.

The Frog Prince

I often make the joke that maybe I will someday meet my “frog prince,” aka a French Prince Charming. I have kissed a few, or so, and so far none has transformed into the man of my dreams.

Some versions of the original Frog Prince

http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/FrogPrin.shtml

http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/frogking/index.html

Apparently the kissing the frog part wasn’t added until modern times.

But then, the joke is really on me because the story of the Frog Prince is about seeing beyond appearances and us vs them. It’s not really a story about a princess making the frog transform, it’s about the frog helping the princess grow (and relying on her to help him become his true self).

I have been the spoiled princess. And there have been times I have been so focused on trying to find my own true love, in the only way I could imagine he could show up, that I may have been blind to other possibilities.

And yes, maybe a frog could be my one true love. In general, I do rather like/LOVE France.

I like the older version of the story. It’s not the kiss, it’s the intimacy that helps break the spell. Which was in no way the prince’s fault.

And maybe I just need to realize that there is more to people than what it seems on the surface, and see the beauty within no matter how unexpected the form my true love takes.

Namaste,

MJ

Why I am still single, overweight, and struggling Part Eleventy billion

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So I was consoling myself from a minor but chronic complaint I don’t want to disclose on the interwebs. Nothing life threatening, nothing painful, just annoying and embarassing. The stuff of life we try to say is our own fault but is also part of just rolling the dice.  (Or maybe it’s just the fact that everybody is getting married and I haven’t been on a decent first date in forever and it seems the pool of people I could potentially have an interest in shrinks every moment and that right person is probably on another goddamn continent, if he exists at all.) I’m sure something comes to your mind- be it credit card debt, a washing machine that leaks, that guy next door that coughs every morning, that touch of a cold you just can’t seem to shake you probably got from being out too late and drinking too much and now you can’t seem to get through a conversation ithout having to blow your nose though you aren’t quite sick enough to stay at home–

so let’s get to the reasons

1) because sometimes when you spin the wheel of fortune, you lose.

For all the encouragement to take risks and all the exhortations to be bold, it still hurts to lose. And every once in a while, every body does. No one is immune to the whims of fate.  Whether good or bad, it could happen to you.  You can help work towards good things and help protect against bad, but ultimately a lot of what happens to us is outside of our control. ANd most of the good things in life carry a risk of some amount of bad things, or are bad in themselves in excess.

And some people find the right person in college, and now find their engagement so likely as not to be worth posting about on facebook.

and others, often the best people, don’t go on areal date until they have gotten their first job.

kissing frogs is tough.

kissing toads is worse.

and we can beat ourselves up every day about not knowing which way it would go from the beginning, and it’s true that sometimes we ignore the little voice, but sometimes you have to live and learn.

Sometimes you go to the ball and come home with a sprained ankle and didn’t get a chance to dance. But at least you were there, and you’ve licked your wounds to be able to fight another day.  Once you learn how to fight that is.

2) you are so used to your solitay, comfortless, comfort eating mindless self indulgence ritual that you are too numb and dull to actually connect with the present moment and too damn chickenshit to actually feel your pain.

it’s to simple to just let the tape keep rolling and go through the routine.

sometimes life hits so hard or just stings so bad that it feels like you need that routine. Pussy. maybe you do.

and you hope that maybe one day, the conveyor belt will stop rolling, the director will yell cut, and like lucy you can stop stuffing those bon bons away to any part of you you can reach.

the problem is, you are the director.

but see #1. you can to a certain extend control your actions, but remember you’ll never really be in control.

and those bon bons are just weighing you down.

but you are human.

And for this too, you need to forgive yourself.

Although you will always be stuck on the wheel…

3) being human sucks.

it does really. we have the capacity for great joy and great suffering. we often suffer. suffering is often the motor of positive change. its a hard knocks life.

4) you just won’t open up. you won’t open up your mind to new ways of thinking. you won’t open your heart to the person you’d least expect but who will be your best and truest friend. You will continue to fantasize about the unavailable person who doesn’t love you but fits your bill while you will turn away empty all those who sought to win your love honestly.

you won’t give up on the dream you had as a child, even if it doesn’t bring you joy anymore. you won’t drop the job that you din’t like, because you are too busy trying to excel. you won’t stop telling yourself, it would be different if X, this is not my real life, and you just dig your heels into a fantasy world of perfection making the real world just get farther and farther away.

life will just keep breaking your heart until it opens…

and then you will think you know something, and it will break your heart some more.

5) and you just won’t get over that one fucker who broke your heart. or the dog who died, taking a piece of you with him. You won’t get over the race you didn’t win in elementary school that wrecked your hopes of an Olympic medal. YOu won’t let go what’s gone, and you are afraid to reach for anything new because it may not last either. ANd you know what, it will probably hurt even worse than before because you will be wondering why the fuck you gave it a chance, you should have known better, it was all your fault, but they’re all the same.

get used to it. impermanence is a thing.

and until youaccept that pain, until you realize there’s nothing you can do to escape but to live in the shadows of a half lived life, and not even that works too well, you can move forward and stop bitching and maybe make something. it might last, it might not, you can win or you canlose. But stop being a loser and get in the game.

6) you look in the mirror, and you don’t like what you see.

Change it. Well you can’t change everything. So yeah change it but…

love yourself now. Life is too short. ANd that’s the only key to real change anyhow.

You wil never feel the love from the world if you can’t feel it inyourself.

So man up.

Lucky 7) It’s not your time. time waits for no man, but you can’t hurry love. accept where you are in this moment. struggling isn’t going to chance it. So just be where you are, and breathe.

That’s a second that’s already gone, taking you somewhere you’ve never been, and that breath will never be again.

Let go.

Namaste,

MJ

Of Real Love and Paris

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The first time I went to Paris I was far from in love with it.  I actually had a feeling more akin to “so this is it?”  It was also very, very cold, especially for Paris, and I was not well dressed for the weather, and everything was expensive.  I had dinner in St Michel and a guy from New Jersey owned the restaurant.

Same thing for the second, third, fourth, times where I was passing through for a few days. It was nice, but while I loved France, I wasn’t particularly obsessed with Paris.

ANd then the fifth time came, and I remember telling my mom, “Yeah, all the streets look the same and it’s just a bigger version of any French city.”

But then as I became integrated in the life and the fact that there was something incredible to see every day, and the awesome people I met, things changed.

It felt like I fit.

Just before that trip, I remember telling friends that after I finished business school, there was no where else that would make sense for me, no where else I could possibly end up, outside of Washington, DC. Nor any career that could ever fit besides public policy.

Well, as it turned out I was dead wrong.

My first few months in Paris, I thought all my worries would fall away like water. I thought the dream had been won.

But as it turned out, the real dragons were in my head. THe real souce of not feeling like I belonged came from within.

ANd as it turns out, even moving to the City of Light can leave you feeling trapped, alone, and in the dark for a while.

A geographic move may set things in motion, but you still have to go out there and build a life for yourself. As my business coach says, “The grass is green where you water it.”

But I was so paralyzed by self doubt, loneliness, anxiety, and being an impostor in my own skin that I still doubted everything that I had done, still crucified myself for any perceived mistake or misstep. I couldn’t let myself be human, I couldn’t accept anything less than my ego’s standard of perfect.

At the same time, I was still “in love,” with someone I’d met years ago, in literally another life, in the life I planned in DC. ANd he was everything I wanted in a man…or so I told myself.  As per my usual, I’d fallen in love quickly and had an image I just wouldn’t give up, an image of masculine perfection I wanted to impose on him. Which I wouldn’t open my eyes to see wasn’t the reality. Not out of friendliness or compassion, but out sheer desperation to believe in my idol, I refused to read the writing on the wall.

It was a selfish, trite deception of what selfless love could be.

And truly, I loved my friend. I did really care about him, and he was in many ways everything I thought aman should be. But he wasn’t. And he wasn’t in love with me.

So instead of saying, “o well,” i just dug in harder, ever more convinced it was just a matter of convincing him, just a matter of time, just a matter of destny before he saw my worth and loved me back.

And all the while there were many clues that while he said he watned many things of the life I wanted, he wanted to live abroad and all, ultimately I don’t know if that’s what he really wants.  And I know there are many things about him I don’t like, no matter how much I tried not to see him.

WHen it comes down to it, I pursued him because I didn’t trust him to pursue me.

1) Becase I wasn’t sure he was up for it; at some point I doubted his capacity for the courage and daring and wherewithal to do so

2) Because I wasn’t sure I was worth it.  I wasn’t sure I was pretty enough, smart enough, feminine enough, thin enough for the man I wanted so much to believe was perfect.

And here’s the tricky part: there’s no real 100% ill-wishing bad guy in this story. But there are no heroes and no villains and no wrapped up in a bow happy ending.

Except that perhaps both of us have emerged with the lessons we needed to keep fighting the good fight and will be that much closer to knowing how to love and be loved and be ourselves in this world.

And for me, I realized I was worshipping a clay idol instead of a living God. I was caught up in my own delusion of what my story should be, I was inflexible as a rock but thankfully the living water of the God who is with us throughout our lives, softly and gently forming us into something better, intervened. So omnipresent, so gentle and imperceptible that we are fish in the water who don’t believe water is real.

And as for Paris, it is a journey, not a city.

It is a way fo thinking, a moveable feast

Though I don’t intend to move for quite a while.

And in Prais, while I often calculate the taxes  I could be saving, the salary I could be getting, the general ease of living in my native, prosperous, dynamic country, the fac tthat there are many American companies with good vacation, benefits, and salaries, the way this economy does not seem to be growing at all…

Here I am, and for the moment, I have all that I really need.

ANd even if I can’t understand why I need to be here, even if it doesn’t make any conscious sense, I feel it.

I feel it on that deep, soulful, still small voice, be still and know that I am God, kind of way.

This may seem like I’m conflating  romantic, selfish, idle pursuit with a mystical purpose, but the two my seem the same. And romance and the spirit are definitely not exclusive.

And as for real love, it might start as a tickle, the tiniest trickle of passion, an imperceptive leak in your defenses letting your love free, and end as a cataract flowing into the ocean.

You might not know, “this is it,” from the moment you meet the guy.

Getting into a relationship may not be the end of anxiety, loneliness, and even heartache.

Getting maried will not be the end of uncertainty or the beginning of a conflict free life.

This person will probably not resolve all your contradictions in the “safe” way your ego wants.

He may not be what you pictured from the time you were a little girl.

But certainly, he will capture the wonder.

He will be your friend.

And when he offers you flowers, though they may not be perfectly arranged, or a compliment, no matter how awkward, you will be that little girl again, you will feel “I am lovely,” and you will know you are loved.

And this is the Prince Charming you’ve been waiting for, this is the love you always knew you could feel.

And to the jaded, cynical, battered part of you who has had her heart broken a million times, you will recognize your brokenness, your vulnerability, and even though you know fairy tales don’t always come true, you will believe, one more time.

And once again you will give up the life you imagined to life the life that is waiting for you, to receive the love you always deserved but had not yet found, and find your heart has grown enough to receive it all and give back a love you’d almost lost hope of ever feeling.

It’s time for me to be brave, and patient.

I have nothing to fear.

Looking at all the great things that have already been done by GOd in my life, there is so much to inspire faith.

That all-encompassing love, even beyond Paris or the love of my life, is already available to me, always has been, and always will be.

I’m all for hard work and putting in the effort, but for some things you ultimately need to open your arms to receive abundantly.

So I believe.

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