We All Dig Tunnels, and Call Them Lives

We all dig tunnels and call them lives. Our perspectives are defined by the scenes on the walls of the paths we burrow. These tunnels we dig may lead to a vein of metaphorical gold that runs deep through the terra firma of our lives. Striking such gold is a wonderful if rare outcome and cause for much gratitude. Other tunnels may lead to silver, copper, coal or stone, etc.. Each discovery a direct, if unforeseen result of the direction in which one chooses to place their effort. In misfortunate circumstances, our digging may lead to flooding or cave in, and there the story ends.

Why tunnels? Many feel trapped by life, and here the metaphor is clear. Others see double rainbows, climb the world’s tallest peaks, or hurtle themselves from aircraft at 14,000 feet. These souls feel free. Indeed, “freedom” is a familiar battle cry, and an excellent alternative to feeling trapped, but it is still freedom within a confined mental space. It is only an experience of the concept of “freedom” based on a singular perspective. It is a mindset defined by the path they’ve selected to carve a life out of this endless universe of possibility. Have you ever met someone who “knows” they are “right,” perhaps in the mirror even? Case in point.

One can be “free” anywhere; on a mountain top, in a tunnel, even in shackles if strong enough of mind. The point is not freedom from bondage; rather, it is to recognize and acknowledge the limits of the human capacity for perspective. Each person’s path is unique. Therefore, even in the presence of the most compassionate, empathic soul on earth, our stories, while perhaps listened to by many, will be experienced by us alone. Empathizing is the act of stopping for a moment as we delve, turn to the wall, and swing the pickax with the goal of opening a window to a world that has not as yet entered our passageway. It is a way of honoring the fact that our’s is but one of a countless set of perspectives to consider.

No two lives are alike. No law of balance exists between the worlds of choice and fate, good or bad fortune, or life and death. With the infinite experiences occurring simultaneously and continuously on this planet alone, it is perhaps prudent to consider this reality before we level judgment on others. We may think we know how existence works, and overlay that template onto the world around us, or we may feel lost, alone in the dark. In either case, compassion suggests remembering this simple, empathy-based truth; we all dig tunnels and call them lives.

Unraveling

Morning dew drops hang glistening on the vine leaves. The summer sunrise sparkles in them like prismatic starlight. Skyward has grown the vine in its natural way. Clinging, climbing, and encircling the trunk and limbs of the old oak tree. It is natural for the tree to grow, to reach for the sky. The vine, too, follows its calling to ascend, chasing the sunlight on the wings of the tree. The relationship is beneficial indeed for the vine initially but will inevitably bring calamity to both as the tree is constricted, ultimately to the point of collapse.

The vines of thought and action grow similarly in our lives, and may ultimately choke both mind and body to the point of decrepitude. Unconscious behavior patterns, habits, and beliefs take hold and left unchecked can control or cripple their host. These vines of thought, conscious or not, take on a life of their own. At one point, they may have served us well, may have been too pretty to cut, glistening in the morning dew. But as they deepen their grip, they are capable of distorting or debilitating the heart and soul of a being.

Finding our concept of self in the mirror is one thing. Seeing the inner, ever creeping patterns that twist and shape within us, forming the person only we do not see, is quite another. Left untended, we like the trees in the wild woods, run the risk of becoming misshapen over time, even broken, by that which once seemed harmless and small.

Sensing imbalance, a pull to the unhealthy, chronic discomfort in mind or body are all clues to the presence of these binds within. The human body and mind ache for freedom from pain, constriction, and servitude. All vines have a beginning. They have roots. These can be found (if we dare to face the less flattering interpretation of ourselves). There, at the source, the cutting and digging up of that which does not serve us may begin. As the loss of sustenance suffuses the severed unhealthy physical and ideological tendrils, they lose their power and eventually fall away. We see freedom glistening in the summer morning dew as the binds of a lifetime begin their unraveling.

2020

A new year, a fresh start. Hope flecks shaved from the nothingness of a passing day. Midnight December 31st ushers in a newly defined period of opportunity to leave behind that which no longer serves us, making way for that which will. The gym will be overflowing, until February : ) Liquor stores will experience a temporary drop in sales. Sugar in all forms will temporarily be in surplus. Hope for most of us will do its thing, which, of course, is to spring eternal.

Those who love where they are in life will stay the course. Those who acknowledge the need for change may give it the old college try. Those who don’t believe in any of this nonsense will ignore the passing into the new year altogether.

Creatures of habit we are. I find the practice of framing a new year as a fresh opportunity to be most helpful. At the end of 2018, I reviewed my New Year’s resolutions to find that I had achieved only twenty percent of them. 

See Resolve https://randomthoughtsofaparttimelostsoul.com/2018/12/30/resolve/  

Processing that outcome lit a fire. Tonight, in reviewing my 2019 Resolutions I discovered that sixty percent of my goals had come to fruition, in spite of the fact that the year offered its share of unexpected challenges.

Fire, fuel, impetus, whatever; documenting the desired trajectory of one’s future seems a valuable tool. May your fire burn bright, your fuel be plentiful, and your resolve be firm as we roll together into 2020.

Sweet Dreams

I had two fitful sleep sessions last night; both punctuated by intense dream crescendos. Upon the first waking, I had been bitten by two rattlesnakes, during the second I was deep in the helping of a small band of pre-apocalyptic refugees gathering fabric and blankets in preparation for a Bird Box-ian scenario that appeared to be descending upon us.  

Clearly, I’m subconsciously relaxed.  Furthermore, it’s obvious that nothing disconcerting is lurking just beneath the surface of my perceived personal event horizon.  

 

 

Samsara

Each day I wake and tell myself, “it’s not about winning or receiving approval; it’s about gratitude, acceptance, and love.”

Then each night, I fall asleep, wondering, “Was I good enough today?”

Lifetime to lifetime, moment to moment, ever-grinding on; the turning wheel of Samsara.

The Struggle Is Real

We all struggle at one time or another. Human beings, wealthy and impoverished alike, meet adversity on their own terms, on an ongoing basis. The first noble truth of Buddhism states that; “Life is suffering, pain, and misery.” There you have it! Ironically, upon closer inspection, the weight of the difficulty life presents often seems most evident in those who most concertedly deny its presence. Of course, we all have good days. Many of us have them in spades, but none can deny that without darkness light would have no meaning. The veil of night eventually falls on even the sunniest day.

Few things shut down a room faster than open discourse on the topic of personal struggle, pain, or misery. Its as though admission of the obvious is the ultimate taboo. “How are you?” “Oh, great! All good,” Win the day in casual banter because let’s face it, few are ready for the authenticity of reality-based ‘banter.’ The very question, “How are you?” is not an invitation; it’s a social contract. “Please don’t toxify my day with an unpleasant response,” is the unspoken subtext woven into the question itself.

My life is a party compared to those I see on the news (Disclaimer: I don’t actually watch the news), but that doesn’t mean I’m not forced to dance with demons at their behest. Not my idea of a good time, but some dances are, as it turns out, unavoidable. I don’t talk about that much when people ask how I’m doing. I share the bits they want to hear for the most part, because I understand the social contract. That said, I wonder why we, as a people, find it so disquieting to lend and shoulder to those facing times of discomfort.

Perhaps in bearing the weight of our own realities, there is little strength left to heft the burdens of others, but that’s not the point is it? Listening and empathizing does not have to become an infectious ordeal. Hearing someone, where they are, good place or bad is a gift that can be given without loss. 

Being ‘heard’ is a rarity that can change the mind of a person in need. Why are we here? A personal question with infinite, experienced-based answers to be sure. I feel we are here to make the world a better place, to address the first noble truth of Buddhism, to be the sounding board for growth, change, and healing. Next time we have the opportunity to ask how someone is doing, perhaps we could do so knowing full well from personal experience, that the struggle is real.

Pennies From Heaven

The soon to be obsolete penny from a questionable Heaven, ha! Of course, Heaven certainly will survive as a concept, though it’s exact location and purpose are for each of us to determine using our own perspectives. Pennies, once worth less than the copper with which they were minted, are likely on their way to relic status. All the same, every time it rains, if it indeed rains pennies from Heaven, that’s pretty cool, so long as we carry a stainless steel umbrella and a bank bag in which to scoop them.

It rained here for most of the last two weeks. In my world, it rained pennies from Heaven. I can’t remember two weeks so rich with opportunity and experience. Gratitude is an understatement for the gift of getting to do my work, love my family, and not have a stroke (at least not one that I have been able to detect). After a long drought, rain in any form was most welcome. The fact that it brought new challenges, opportunities, and victory snatched from the jaws of its evil twin leaves me breathlessly grateful.

Not all days are sunshine and roses. When those two do appear, if wise to their rarity, we bask and inhale deeply in appreciation. When it rains, may we be on the lookout for those pennies, but mind they don’t hit you in the head. Bag them up and make a deposit. Looking on the bright side of dark times may well make for profit in the metaphorical form of pennies from heaven.