This Little Game We Play

comments 38
Course Ideas / Creative

I take the pack of index cards out of my shirt pocket, slide the rubber band off, and lay them on the table.  Hafiz has prepared a few placards and set them up at credible intervals.  They read, “No Way, José,” “I Sure Hope Not,” “Why, Of Course!” “Prepare Yourself For Tears,” and “Jesus Christ!”

I take a breath and shuffle the cards.  Place them in a neat pile on the table.

The first card I flip says, You are a thinking being.  I hum appreciatively– a safe and wholesome opening– and show my card to Hafiz, who nods.  It’s a nod like I just told him the out of doors is often filled with weather, or horses have teeth also.  I slide the card over to “Why, Of Course!”

I draw again.

Everything you desire, as well as what you need, must be earned.

I hum again, this time in acknowledgment of our little game’s escalation.  Bit of tricky business, this…  I hesitate.  “I Sure Hope Not” is looking like the one, but there’s more to it.  It’s definitely not all that I really feel about this card.  There’s something else and I’m trying not to look it in the eye.  I’m about to get tired.  I’m about to suggest we watch a Seinfeld episode.  “Prepare Yourself For Tears” is looking like a dark horse candidate.

How could I not know how I really feel?

“How ’bout a two-fer?” I ask.

Hafiz nods.  Yes, a two-fer.  Yes, the sky is often populated by clouds.  Yes, the table before us is made from the flesh of trees.  Yes, a thinking being can be confused, but it doesn’t change the fact that the spring follows the winter.

I turn over the next one.

Creation is joy extending forever, without limit or interruption or discontinuity.  There is nothing outside of it, and nowhere it is not.

I’m starting to sweat.  I may as well be reading machine language.  The words are standing politely on the other side of a cosmic pane of glass.  Over there.  Not here.  They’re there, and I’m here.  I can hardly read my own writing.  Joy?  I must have written this one down during the ecstatic consummation of a rocket launch, or while I was hanging off the back of a jet ski outrunning a wave as high as a small city.  The letters look like a seismograph recording of the day that asteroid hit the earth– yes, that one, when the dinosaurs succumbed to a wave of very bad feelings.  What if this card had been pulled on that day?

I start to hurt.  They’re there, and I’m here.  I wrote this down once so I’d remember, and now it is waving at me and I don’t feel a thing.  My faculties are on pause.  I don’t know a single thing.  This table is made of wood but what the hell is wood.  I feel trapped.  Just three cards in and I’m done.  Weren’t pterodactyls Creation, too?

I smile to Hafiz wanly and lift my hands from the table, palms facing the cards.  I slide back my chair.  I surrender.

“Write that down,” Hafiz says.  He slides me a blank index card and a pen.

I take the pen.  It is hard to use because it has a bouquet of mismatched feathers sticking out of it– turkey, toucan, chickadee, heron, eagle, chicken, probably a raven– and it seems prepared to dust off the whole world.  They’re tickling my nose while I write.  Why would you mix an eagle feather and a chicken feather?

I don’t know how I truly feel. I surrender.

My uncertainty dissolves in the presence of such honesty.  The room of my heart expands.

“Want to give me one of those other ones?” he asks.

I flip through the deck.

I find the one I’m looking for.  I can figure this out myself.  I pass it over.  Hafiz folds it into the shape of a paper airplane, pours lighter fluid down the center crease, lights the nose, and lofts it gently through the open window.  We watch together as the flames slide sideways through the night.

I’m thinking about ordering take-out.  Thinking about that Thai place we went to once.  I’m so relieved about my new card I’m breathing like a morning mist and tasting coconut soup and my eyes are clouding with tears.

And Hafiz is chuckling.

Yes.  Yes the sky will sometimes fill with flames.

38 Comments

    • My pleasure, Brad! Surrender is good. It takes a little while to realize we are actually adherents to conflicting ideas some times. The result is a strange confusion. The mixing of love and pain, as Jesus says in A Course of Love. This type of split mind leads to some strange feelings, indeed! Best to know as little as possible some days! Ha!

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Oh yes, it’s certainly risky being an autocrat; take it from me, I tried it for quite some time, most of which was wasted in a sense. Eventually, and after having sought and received decades of guidance, I had to become one again, without myself in tow, and beyond the ideas of others. Teachers can only help us to unlearn; embracing forever’s nothing to do with anyone or their words is it, Michael? 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Hariod,

      You bring up what appears to be an interesting irony. We can’t be autocrats, but nor can we be adherents to any external power or process. We have to find our way to that unique blossoming of who we are that no one can give us, and that we must lose ourselves to find in a way. But the teachers do put us in position to succeed I think. Embracing Forever is not based on any particular quote but is related to the idea that we are timeless, and have access to timeless reality… 🙂

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 3 people

      • When you say towards the close of your piece “I can figure this out myself”, then along with what follows in the remainder of the paragraph I take it you are self-deprecatingly poking fun at the narrator’s autocratic nature – do tell me if I have it wrong, Michael, as the close of your piece suggests I might have. In any case, I agree with you, in that we can’t truly be autocrats in any strict sense, given we are but cogs in a vast machine of conditionality; to think that we are self-determining is fundamental to our ignorance. And yet, as you suggest, some ‘higher’ aspect of us may escape this conditionality in embracing its own presence beyond the mechanistic tick-tocking of a world passing in time. I think of this simply as awareness, rather than the brain patterns of consciousness, or the body, both of which necessarily remain subject to conditionality. In all instances, the deluded autocrat (and I speak as a partially reformed one), has to wake up – but without any attempt to do so. This is an interesting dilemma within circles of spiritual seekers: in seeking the unconditioned, do all my (spiritual) efforts in the conditioned world amount to nothing; is it all just a little game I play?

        Lots of love, dear friend.

        Hariod.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Hariod,

          You have it right when you say I was “self-deprecatingly poking fun at the narrator’s autocratic nature.” I was trying to throw out ideas in this piece that a reader might discover they have conflicting views about… in a sense to convey how difficult it is to be on the seeking side of that game you describe. To be conditioned and seeking the unconditioned without giving up on the conditioning– without giving up on the attempt to do so— results in some very confusing moments. We realize we are deeply conflicted. And for me, in realizing this, you turn in the autocrat card. Give it over to the mystery. The unknown. The emptiness. The unity. The Love. Call it what you like!

          I think there are moments when the game brings flashes of insight, so it’s not all for naught. For it is a great thing to recover what has always been. But so long as we ignore the flashes of insight, we are forced to continue playing the game, with all its attending difficulties and vicissitudes…

          Peace
          Michael

          Liked by 3 people

    • That honesty is so key, Julia! Nevermind what we want to feel, or are supposed to feel, or wish we felt so we could post about it on our favorite social media feed! Honesty really clears a path somehow. I find being honest about my own confusion makes it okay! And if it’s okay, then I’m a lot less confused… Ha! Life is amazing like that… We’re always turning inside out, to get to where we’ve never left…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 3 people

      • So much wisdom in that. I’m really finding that as I find the courage to look into my confused and/or hurt feelings and examine them honestly “ugly parts and all” so much clarity and healing comes forth. Seem to be doing a lot of turning myself inside out this year. Love what you say about “to get to where we’ve never left…” I shall invite the peace of that knowing into my life.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Are you familiar with Kirtana. I think you will *love* Kirtana. Here are the words to her song “Pulling in the oars”
    I’m pulling in the oars of this tiny boat,
    growing weary of the rowing
    and all the effort to reach some shore,
    when it’s not shore where I’m going

    Rising with the tide, breaking with the wave,
    I surrender every notion
    that there is someone here to save —
    as if I’m separate from the ocean!

    And I surrender to the mystery
    In the lap of God I rest my case
    The force that bore this world can carry me
    Who am I to question grace?

    Who dreamed me into form?
    Whose will sustains me?
    Who brings what comes my way?
    And when I die, who claims me?

    Looking back, sometimes I have to laugh
    What a lot of work it’s been,
    clinging to a sinking raft,
    just to keep from falling in

    So drown me in your darkest pain,
    your softest kiss, your sweet despair
    I’ve seen your face now and I know your name
    And I can find you anywhere

    I surrender to the mystery
    and to the love that rises up to sing
    Come what may, I vow to wait and see
    I really don’t know anything

    I surrender to the mystery
    and to the love that rises up to sing
    The force that bore this world can carry me
    I really don’t know anything
    I really don’t know anything
    I really don’t know anything

    http://www.kirtana.com
    Love, Alison xox

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Alison! I was not familiar with Kirtana but look forward to hearing more. She has a pretty voice and a beautiful message. It sounds like music that will grow on me, too…

      Much Love,
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  3. footloosedon says

    “Creation is joy extending forever, without limit or interruption or discontinuity. There is nothing outside of it, and nowhere it is not.” How lovely the message contained in those few words. Thank you Michael.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Don. Those are my best recollection of sentiments expressed in ACIM and ACOL, expressed here in my attempt to describe thoughts that are important to me. It is amazing how one thought in alignment with what is true can have such a profound effect on us. We recognize it and we move into it, like plants growing into the light…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says

    Hey Michael,
    Of course, I love this. I love the message of I don’t know. I surrender, a lot. My shoulders relax just saying it out loud. Hafiz and the flaming paper airplane – so great. The way you got there was so freakin’ funny! All the evasive tactics, when you were uncomfortable with not knowing how you feel. Starting a sweat. Right from the start,I laughed out loud at “horses have teeth also.” The Kenny Rogers song, “Know when to hold’m/know when to fold’em/know when to walk away/know when to run” came to mind. But I like Alison’s song choice much better.
    Thank you, Michael. Once again, you and Hafiz have taken us through the roof.
    Love and coconut soup,
    Mary

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Mary!

      Surrender opens doors I think. Part of what I was trying to capture here is the way that our confusion clouds our view of what is true and what isn’t. The truth becomes “too good” to be true, and the “reality” becomes clouded with pain. We want parts of each, and confusion is the inevitable result. Surrender is sort of the graceful bowing out of this tragedy. We know not what it means– this moment. And the humor is so vital to that! I’m glad you liked the line about the horses. That one cracked me up, too!

      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 4 people

  5. It is always awesome how you weave the process of the spiritual journey into little stories. Congratulations to the surrender to the inner teacher.
    Peace,
    Karin

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Karin. Somehow that process of weaving the journey into stories helps me see it more clearly for myself. Writing a story can be a type of surrender I think. Letting the words find me. Letting the feelings do their thing and unfold in the writer’s eye. I’m glad it helps others, too. It makes it all the more worthwhile and enjoyable to share…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Funny that, that moment when one is suddenly aware that they don’t really know how they feel.
    For me, it’s like going camping and thinking how could I have forgotten the sleeping bag. Now that I think about it, there are lots of moments where I don’t know how I feel and it’s OK, sometimes the moment is the feeling. This is starting to sound like it could turn into a commericial for a car, so I’ll wish you and those you love a wonderful Easter. Peace and joy, Harlon

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh, you crack me up, Harlon. You’re so right about the car commercial. I can just see Matthew McConaughey saying, “the moment is the feeling” inside of his air-brushed Buick as he cruises past the twinkling skyline. As if we drive around just to have these moments. Cars are not utilitarian at all! They are vehicles of experience! Ha! It’s okay to not know quite how the feelings are coming together. Sometimes you can’t make them all fit. Just accept, and turn over the next card. It’s a game of cosmic Go Fish and we forget it’s benevolently rigged. Eventually we trade all our doubts and our automobiles for simplicity and truth…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, well said, Sue! When it looks like there’s no way out, surrender often brings whole new opportunities into view. It’s a bit like shutting off the television in the middle of that scene that’s driving you mad. Wow! This silence is really something else! Surrender is good like that! Have a peaceful day also, Sue… Thank you for your visit…

      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Sometimes the letting go is so hard to do….yet when we get to the edge of the cliff, fighting the wind at our backs and telling ourselves were in it alone, surrender to the fall and with joy, laugh as we take flight like a hot air balloon and we wonder what is it that we held on to the fear so long for, what made us think we could do it alone….let go and let God is a sign my husband owns. I think of it often.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Kim,

      You’ve hit on a good one: surrender is a rule-changer. It is a defiance of the rules we made that aren’t working. We shift from falling to floating. We’re no longer sinking through the sky, but drifting in the hot air balloon. Traveling past fields of flowers. Might even land on a mesa or something and have tea with Hafiz! Ha! Your husband sounds like he has a good collection of signs… 🙂

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Love you Michael. Thank you. I’ll have Green curry, chicken, extra spicy! No thinking needed, I tenderly tell myself and you at the same time, just love what we love …
    “You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.” – Mary Oliver
    Can’t wait to see you my friend … in 10 days! xo

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, Christina! I like the green curry, too, but not sure I can handle that much spice!

      I really love the quote from Mary Oliver. We do not have to carry the weight any farther… Such a burden, that being good…

      Love you too and looking forward to seeing you soon…
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • …. going thru a mysterious door Michael , but I will always come thru into yours …your friendship runs deep and helps so much …love , megxxx ( thank you )

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Meg,

          The mysterious door is catching I think, as I have been feeling lately a little like the various parts of me have reached the end of a campaign and gone their separate ways for the off season, and so who’s left and where are we going…! Ha! If it’s anything like that, then I think it’s in the air… Your friendship runs deep as well and I’m glad it helps with all that is said and unsaid…

          Love to you also
          Michael

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Hedy! Much appreciated. That’s a connection I’ll savor… Nice to think of you so close by, having that cup of coffee…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

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