This post is part of a series of posts written by several bloggers in answer to the Blog Challenge hosted by Linda Litebeing, and I thought it would be a great way to look back upon the last year. The warmth of the holiday season has provided a nice envelope of peace and cheer from which to reflect on a year that, as Linda pointed out in her invitation, has not been without challenges. And yet so often it is these challenges that do bring the greatest blessings…
What lessons did you learn?
Since discovering A Course of Love I have been drawn to the notion that the function of all learning is to bring about authentic knowledge of who we are, of our true identity. Once this is known, not as a concept or as a belief, but as knowledge itself backed by experience, then the need for learning is complete. We are released of our conceptual cages, freed to be who we are without conflict or division. Not because we are perfect, or better in any way than we once were, or than anyone else, but because our identity finally rests on truth.
This year has brought me many experiences where I have noted the pattern and conditions of learning recreated in my life– circumstances that have triggered sensations of lack or incompleteness, of doubt and uncertainty, of frustration and desire for some form of accomplishment or another. As the calendar year winds down, however, I am also seeing the beauty in this process, and noting how such circumstances have indeed brought about a deeper appreciation for who I am, and who we all are. Learning is always perfect and profound, while it is needed. And it is needed so long as I maintain a concept of myself, an ideal against which to compare, a vision for myself to attain through devotion or service of some sort.
I have witnessed the conflict and discontent within myself, and sensed the ways in which it is softening through the path of experience. I think the greatest lesson I take away from this past year is a greater acceptance of who I am, less the world, and of the circumstances in which I find myself. I feel as though I am leaving 2014 with the realization that so long as learning is required– so long as I cling to a particular concept or brand of fear– there is nowhere I need go but where I am to work with it. Things are splendidly okay, even when they’re not. So many games of chicken with our fate compel us to seek out something else, and I am thankful to have come full circle without moving, to discover beautiful inklings of the depth and purpose all around me.
How did you serve others?
This can be a loaded question can’t it!? It can take me right to the heart of a question some of us grapple with during the time and conditions of learning: am I doing enough? Should I be doing something more? Shouldn’t I be spending more time doing x, y, or z? Couldn’t I be making more of a difference? Several of the other participants in this challenge whose entries I have read have made reference to the idea that their greatest service has been in allowing themselves to be who they are– the idea being that the daily practice of offering the gift of our time or presence to others, precisely where we are at, is truly a service.
This really resonates with me, as I am realizing that anything we do that comes from a notion of what we should be doing will lack the essential ingredient, and anything that is truly offered from the depth of our being has the capacity to resonate profoundly with others. The opportunities have been all around me this year, as due to challenging times we’ve had extended family living with us to varying degrees throughout the year. I’ve driven kids to soccer games, helped with homework, cooked meals, and most importantly, been able to deepen relationships by sharing and creating space for those who’ve needed it.
What blessings did you receive?
I’ve touched on a few above. Realizations about ourselves and our internal obstacles or resistances to love are always blessings, as are opportunities to deepen relationships with those around us. My wife’s recognition of who I am, and support, is an ongoing blessing that spans far beyond the time it takes our little planet to circumnavigate our nearest star. In addition, through blogging I’ve been brought into contact with some amazing and passionate people, and it has enriched my life considerably.
(I was also gifted a sample pack of Liga Privada cigars and Thomas Pynchon’s novel Against the Day. Blessings come in many forms.)
Was there something you lost that turned out to be a blessing in disguise?
Leaving the obvious aside– e.g. my mind– the loss of a professional comfort zone left the ground feeling wobbly underneath me, but brought to light various fears and sources of discontentment that had been idling within me in a manner that allowed to me process them in my own time. Likewise the inclusion of more family members in our home on a regular basis has also brought various changes in the status quo, such as losses in refrigerator space, limited access to clean drinking glasses, a strange curtailing of the quiet, inadequate space for both cars and snow banks, and of course a contraction of time itself, but these shifts were all rendered moot by the unexpected gifts of being part of more lives in an increasingly meaningful way.
Did you receive any “gifts” in terms of powers or skills?
I did, however, set a new personal best by making an order of chorizo nachos disappear in under five minutes. And I wrote a lot more poetry than in any previous year of my life.
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Linda is up next with tomorrow’s entry. Happy Reflection Times to all.