How the Time Flies…

It’s hard to imagine that a month has passed since Easter, when I moved into my new flat. I kicked into gear as soon as I got here and have been putting in 30-hour writing weeks since. That may explain my recent online silence. I notice I am doing less writing ‘on the side’ after I put in my daily hours, even simple e-mail correspondence.

But life continues to open up in beautiful and mysterious ways. Even in the midst of what I might have previously called ‘mundane routine’, the stunning gift of simply being here is so clear. It’s crazy that we ever pull ourselves away from this simplest of truths, our very presence. We can never acquire more, nor accomplish anything greater than our own being. It’s already here – the true ‘juice’ of life. It’s completely free. Unencumbered. Unimpressed with our efforts and successes. Yet ever-willing to hold our ‘failures’, softening our hearts into their natural openness.

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Last week I felt the earth move. Within the relatively small South American nation of Ecuador, I was about as far as possible from the epicentre of the earthquake, but it still shook my home and my body. I scurried about my second-storey apartment wondering where the safest place to stand was. I pulled on some pants and ran outside. By the time I got out, it was done. But it was a humbling experience. A valuable reminder of our tender place on this planet. I can’t imagine how intense the earthquake must have been for those closest to it.

Many people have died. Others have had dreams, plans and properties ruined. But life carries on. The support effort is in full swing throughout Ecuador. All around I see people collecting supplies and others heading for the coast in an attempt to rebuild. I see, once again, the gift of life at work in this. At once subtle and stunningly obvious – the connective fabric of love is driving everything, stirring each of us from the very heart of life. We want to help others in pain. It’s so natural. We want to help others survive, to rekindle their health and hope.

I suppose this is what drives my writing, too. Certainly at the depth level – just love expressing itself. But as it filters through my heart and my life experience, I want to support people on their journey through the mystery of existence. Having trudged through incredible density and darkness (all self-created), I want people to see that we can become free again (realizing we never left) and that we can dance anew in the land of our birth – pure levity and light. There are no lasting walls – they are all imagined.

By entering our softer spaces, by honouring our uncertainty, we can open into ourselves more honestly, seeing this ground to be firmer than all the concrete on earth. This is where life arises from. But we cannot hold it in the way we are used to clutching our ideas and experiences. This ground calls for a continual opening, a blossoming, stretching us out through our hearts.

I am grateful for the freedom to express my heart so casually here. As I move through my daily writing, I am often brushing aside these more ‘esoteric’ stretches, keeping things more ‘grounded’. But even this ‘grounded’ work is only a bridge into the spacious mystery of the heart.

It sometimes feels funny to be pouring myself so earnestly and with such discipline into something that I know doesn’t matter in itself. Like anything else in existence, my story is a vessel at best. Perhaps its lone purpose is growth – a snake-skin to be shed once exhausted. I simply don’t know. But the freedom from any need to know spurs such trust and peace that I can continue pouring love into the project daily without worry.

***

I also feel grateful for friendship here in Cuenca. Since I have been ‘working harder’ and writing more consistently, it has been important to be out and about around town, bumping into friends here and there. I appreciate my weekly writing group. I am grateful to have had the chance to share yet again at the Spoken Word event last week, and another chance to sing songs with friends at Open Mic. And I am grateful for the full house I had here at my place last night…hosting ten for a meal, six of us staying for games night. Cranium was so much fun! 🙂 And of course, lots of music carrying the evening along.

My dear friends, Zach and Kristen, are a wonderful couple that have connected me with countless other good people around town and I am especially grateful for their friendship. And there are always fun people passing through town for a month or a couple of weeks, and it is great to connect with them too! I love the community life here in Cuenca, even as I continue to value my solitude, mining it for its own treasures.

On a semi-related note, I think I can admit (with sufficient humility) that my guacamole is getting pretty darn good. I am looking forward to taking my recipe and patient approach home to Canada in the summer and sharing it with family and friends! Keep your eyes peeled for me, and have your taste-buds ready!

***

I guess that’s about it for today…  As ever, here are some more photos from around town, and out my window, and one from the couch upon stirring from a siesta just about an hour ago… 😉

Panorama from my flat...

Panorama from my flat…

Back to Work

I have been on a long break.  Four months, essentially.  After nearly a year of hard work (for which I have little ‘to show’ at the moment), I took a good long break.  I went wandering through South America.  I have been home for more than a month and I am just now getting back into the groove.  Or trying.  I am committed to a firm work schedule and I am challenging myself to meet deadlines, both short-term and long-term.  But I will not risk taking it seriously.  Throughout all of this work, I know there is nothing important that I can actually accomplish.  Everything of real importance is already sorted out.  It’s all sewn up.  The best I can do is remind someone of what they already know.

 

Nonetheless, I can be playful with this creative project, exercising the discipline necessary to write the beautiful story I have been living.  I am living.  I believe we all have a beautiful story to tell.  We can each see for ourselves.  My story is just one more drop in the ocean.  Although it is all true, believing it can be distractive – certainly for myself, but perhaps for you too.  It can pull us away from the most important part – the heart – the real core of the story, which remains unspoken.  This is the same of any story, I feel.  Instead of getting lost in the various facts and details, allow yourself to sense the undercurrent carrying it all along, and, most importantly, notice how you feel.  Facing these feelings will help us to see what we need to see, or, more aptly, how we need to see.  Not that there is any great need, per se, though we certainly won’t regret the ensuing insight.

 

We can’t fake feelings.  They can’t be manufactured, as far as I understand.  We certainly influence them, and, on one level, we have set them all in motion, but as feelings arise in the moment, their presence cannot be denied.  Although we try our best to look away from certain feelings, we only succeed in saving them for later.  This sort of repression can be likened to a subtle form of procrastination.  Often it is blatant.  Eventually, we have to face it all.  And it seems that through observing all of these feelings, our stories unravel.  The little narratives that have carried us along for most of our lives begin to weaken and slip away.  And the overarching story becomes more beautiful in the process.  It doesn’t change the events that have transpired, necessarily, but we come to see more clearly what our actual relationship with them is.

 

And this can seem scary, at first.  It often does.  These feelings are pretty raw.  They are powerful.  And we feel exposed in such honest self-reflection.  But before long we begin to feel freer and lighter, more and more willing to face whatever else may be lingering in the depths, preventing our peace, which is ever-present and forever available to us.  But we cannot reach for it.  We can only allow it.  And sometimes this takes work.  Facing ourselves in all honesty, examining the stories we have been telling ourselves (and others) is indeed hard work.  But it is most definitely worth our while.

 

I have a friend who once told me that life is a long weekend.  As soon as I heard it, I loved the idea.  I felt it to be deeply true.  I shared this philosophy widely for a while, but soon began wondering where life’s inevitable work factors in.  I have also heard it said that when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.  But I wonder if maybe it takes a bit of work to get to that point.  I feel that sometimes hard work is exactly what we need.  And we don’t always want to do it.  Where does hard work fit within the framework of a long weekend?  I suppose if we are up at the cottage and need to fix the deck, or the dock, a bit of hard work is unavoidable.  And this tends to feel pretty good, once done, but is often a bit of a slog to get through.  While this seems to contradict popular philosophies urging us to ‘follow your bliss’ or ‘do what you love’, I feel that hard work can be a valuable part of our love, strengthening our endurance.  Our love provides enough space to bury our heads from time to time and plough through unpleasant tasks.  And when we break through, we usually feel the rewards of our hard work.

 

And the hardest work of all may be complete effortlessness.  Can we sit in perfect stillness?  Can we watch ourselves quietly and patiently to observe our most deeply rooted habits and stories?  Give it a try, and you may see that truly doing ‘nothing at all’ is rather difficult.  This sort of paradox is often unsettling for our minds.  But if we allow ourselves to simply observe this apparent paradox, and our reaction to it, eventually the inner storm will settle, and we can come to see that so-called ‘cut and dry’ or ‘black and white’ distinctions are not what they appear.  These divisions created in the mind are more like the two sides of a coin.  Eventually, all opposites meet in the middle.  And this is balance, as strange as it may seem to us at first.

 

So, for the next six months or so, I endeavour to balance hard work and great discipline with patience and peace, honouring the effortless, all-embracing love at the centre of it all.  With very rare exceptions (perhaps none at all!) I will be posting at least one update here per week, aiming for Mondays.  Aside from this, my main project will be rising early to slowly approach the mass of words I have gathered over the past year or so.  By chopping, trimming and softly massaging these words, I hope to find the core of the story coursing through them and allow it to emerge and string together some sort of coherent whole.  It will most certainly be hard work, but I will allow my love to lead me through it.

 

I wish you all the best as you endeavour to let your love lead you through whatever hard work may be facing you.  It can’t be avoided forever.  Once we get at it, we are wiser and stronger for the sheer will to step up and face each passing feeling, whatever it may be.  Pleasure and pain come and go, but the truth of love underpins and transcends it all.  See this and be free.

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