3P Random Reflections Blog
He was on his bicycle, which had seen better days, and so had his clothes, being ill-fitting and likely unwashed for days. He seemed quite old to be on a bicycle, but perhaps that was just the physical imprint of a difficult life. He was peddling down
the street with two swaying bags, one strapped to each bicycle handle, and with both bags filled with beer cans to be taken back to the store for the deposit refund.
He was likely one of those I see occasionally digging through garbage
cans and scanning through parks where beer cans tend to be tossed away by the many who can't seem to be bothered with the effort of returning them. This man on the bicycle saw those cans differently.
In the past I would have seen this
man in a variety of different ways.
At times I might have felt sorry that he had to dig through garbage cans to survive. At times I might have been fearful or uncomfortable, not sure of what to expect of his actions, and being ready to
divert my eyes if he looked at me. At times I might have been relieved and thankful that I didn't have to dig through garbage cans for my own survival. At times I might have barely taken notice of him. But in each case, my thinking would have presented to
me some sense of separation between he and I, and some sense of belief that he was "less" in some way.
On this particular day however, that sense of separation and comparison, and perception as less didn't happen.
we drove by, a powerful and physical burst of connection filled my heart. I saw that he was neither less nor greater than me. I saw that we were, in a significant and profound way, exactly the same. And although his circumstances and appearance indicated that
we lived in very different worlds, where mine appeared to be the eminently preferred one, I realized in that moment that the idea and judgment of "separate" and "less" was completely untrue.
I KNEW that I could be on that bicycle, I could
be him, and I would be perfectly fine... and could in fact, be wholeheartedly joyful. I KNEW that although his outer appearance appeared to tell me a story, whatever was in his mind in that moment was completely hidden, and could have been an experience of
complete contentment. In that moment I saw that he wasn't slumped over in hopeless defeat, but was simply an industrious man, sitting upright on a bicycle, peddling through town on a spring day. At the same time, I was a woman, running errands around town
in a car, and looking out the window as I passed by. Two human forms modulating within the energetic exchange and movement of life. Equal and incomprehensibly connected.
I often wonder if perhaps in that moment, he felt it too.
I can't effectively articulate this moment of KNOWING, but it's one that comes to mind in times when my own personal story, or the stories of our world, appear to be scary or confusing. It offers a felt memory of something much more UNCONDITIONAL and IMPERSONAL
about life, something that offers freedom from any immediate need for change, while presenting a TRUTH about life that is paradoxically unchangeable.
I know I'm not alone in my sense of this. I know of others who have their own unique
stories of KNOWING this connection or realizing this awareness in their own unique way. My guess is that everyone intuits this in some way, even if their own intellect tends to reject it. My guess is also that whatever stories we may hold about what our life
or this world means, it may be worth a moment of reflection to look beyond what appears to be the chaotic circumstances in any moment. Beyond the visible there's something significant and solid and beautiful to be found.
Whenever my husband and I used to get upset about anyone or anything during our workday, we would come home, tell our story, get validation from each other that we were right, and inevitably come up with even more reasons to deeply confirm why we were
RIGHT and why the situation was WRONG.
We didn't even really notice we were doing this, nor did we have any idea of what effect it might be having on us.
It was just a habitual behaviour that made us temporarily feel
better. It gave us some validation, some sense of control, and some way of feeling immediately better, in a situation that appeared somewhat out of our control.
It was a way to cope with feelings that we didn't like.
The interesting thing is that although it felt good to have someone agreeing with us about something we saw as bad, we didn't realize the negative side-affects of this type of support. We weren't aware of the power of using our own thoughts against ourselves.
We weren't aware of our intrinsic "OK-ness" that never requires the need to be right. And we didn't notice the significance of feeling "good-bad" versus feeling "good-good".
Feeling GOOD-BAD comes from...
Being agreed with, so that
we temporarily feel better about feeling bad. We continue to focus only on the problem itself which feels very real and personal. We come up with all the reasons why we are ONLY right, about a problem that is ONLY wrong. We fall into this habit as a way of
coping, but a habit which unfortunately magnifies the problem, makes it last longer, blinds us to most of the possibilities for creative resolution, and ultimately creates more internal resistance and suffering.
Note: On the surface, most
if not all of us feel this reoccurring human need to be right, and that feeling can be quite intense. If we look more deeply however, we may notice that the intensity comes from a compelling feeling, in that moment, that we are not OK or that we are not enough...
a consequence of simply not realizing or remembering otherwise.
Feeling GOOD-GOOD comes from...
Allowing space for an understanding of our "intrinsic OK-ness, no matter what" to arise. We consider NOT only what we think we know about
the problem, but allow space for the as yet unknown. We look toward the infinite potential for deeper wisdom and new insight on how to see the problem, or how to see ourselves, or how to see the world, or what to do about it, if anything. We realize an understanding
of the problem that is less serious and less personal, allowing us to navigate it with more of a feeling of internal peace and gratitude. We see that there doesn't need to be any determination of right or wrong. We realize a bigger picture view of the situation,
which, as a habit, offers much more access to grace and understanding whenever any problem occurs.
Nowadays when my husband and I come home with a problem, we don't always talk about it right away, because we have some respect for sitting
in a bit of the unknown first. If/when we do talk about it, our partner allows us time to vent, while being aware of the ability to either point us toward the experience of feeling good-bad (temporary coping), or toward the experience of feeling good-good
(realizing internal peace).
And so, we have some awareness to get less attached to our partner's story, and hold less of a desire to help fix the apparent problem. We don't add to the problem with our own ideas of why it's so bad. We hold
more of a space of acceptance and unconditional love. We deeply trust in our partner's intrinsic OK-ness, and their ability to realize something new and personally helpful, when simply given the understanding, the trust, the time, and the space to see it.
The beauty of this understanding, of the difference between fostering temporary feelings of good-bad versus lasting feelings of good-good, is that we can apply this to EVERY problem we experience.
Unfortunately, what most
of us may not realize is that all the clever marketers on social media (and on the news and in commercials) are very aware of this incredibly common and powerful human need to feel right when something is wrong. They intentionally design their communications
to either create or magnify a problem and then to offer us a way to feel right (or righteous) about it.
Then, they know that with our newly fuelled anger and our good feeling over being right (the magical mix of feeling good-bad), we will
easily neglect to notice all the potential problems with the marketer's message... the limited details, the unfair/unrealistic comparisons, the questionable exaggerations, the heightened emotional tone, the lack of neutrality, or the lack of any thoughtful
and balanced consideration of the issue.
They also know we will neglect to look at or to question the source of the post, or the motivation or identity of the poster. And, that we will rarely take the time to check any of the facts, and
never attempt to deeply understand the issue.
In fact, they know that we will often get so charged with emotion that we will not even care if it's misleading or not... we will just feel so good to have someone who agrees with us, that
we will immediately share their post, and continue to get the ongoing dopamine hits of feeling "good-bad" with every Like, Share, and supportive Comment.
In contrast, it's my guess that the marketers are not at all neglectful in noticing
and appreciating our enthusiastic and free distribution of their brand and their message.
And so instead of an innocent partner unknowingly nudging us toward the ultimately unhelpful feeling of good-bad (like my husband and I used to do),
we have an abundance of not-so-innocent marketers KNOWINGLY nudging us that way instead. And whenever our heightened emotions are involved, we lose our clarity, neutrality, and common sense, and we innocently and frequently take the bait... me included.
So what do we do if we sense there's any truth in this at all?
And what if in the bigger picture of life, we notice that we'd really prefer to be living in a more peaceful society, and finding more peace within ourselves.
How do we avoid being so easily seduced by clever marketers whose basic objectives of money and power are rarely gained through promoting peace?
Well, there's obviously no "right" answer, but, we can always start with ourselves. And perhaps
that begins by simply noticing or realizing that the apparently good feeling of "being right", doesn't really feel that good after all? And so maybe it's a habit we can start to let go of, if we have a better sense now, that this is what might be going on.
On a day when we make up all sorts of stories about what love is...
What if love isn't what we think it is?
What if love requires absolutely nothing... no person, no circumstance,
no behaviour, no thing to do or be or feel?
What if love is the essence of everything, and appears to only show itself in moments of laughter, and kindness, and cooperation, and affection, but is just as present in moments of loss, and
despair, and judgment, and loneliness?
What if love is the richness of life itself in all its forms?
What if love simply IS?
As I write this, it is one of the days that I love about Winnipeg... right now it's -44C with the windchill, but the sky is incredibly crisp and clear, allowing the sun to soak into the air and everything it lands on. The intense and bright white light
of it just seems to infuse everything. As I was looking outside, I remembered a story that often comes to mind on days like this...
About 15 years ago, I was working in Ottawa, supporting a project to train 100 new travel counsellors to
handle the reservations for a large global oil company. One of the new counsellors we hired, had recently moved here from Saudi Arabia, and prior to coming here, had never been exposed to cold winters. And so with his knowing only that the appearance of the
sun always meant heat, he was a bit shocked and surprised to walk outside into a very cold day, immediately after witnessing (and feeling) all the bright and warm rays of sun streaming through the window of his home.
As I was thinking
about this today, it occurred to me that the heat we experience on this planet, doesn't just come from the sun. Instead there is an incredibly complex living system of interconnected "life" that creates our climate and our weather, and that allows Winnipeg
to be very cold on the most glorious of sunny days.
The planet moves and spins and tilts, the moon wraps around it, the winds stream and arc and swirl, the currents and rivers flow, the soils and plants and trees and animals consume and
move and emit, and a massive exchange of life and energy continually occurs, all working together in a choreographed ballet of symbiotic service.
Charles Eisenstein offers a brief glimpse of this complexity in a recent article...
"Vegetation produces volatile compounds that promote the formation of clouds that reflect sunlight. Megafauna transport nitrogen and phosphorus across continents and oceans to maintain the carbon cycle. Forests generate a biotic pump of persistent low pressure
that brings rain to continental interiors and maintains atmospheric flow patterns. Whales bring nutrients up from the deep ocean to nourish plankton. Wolves control deer populations so that forest understory remains viable, enhancing rainfall absorption and
preventing droughts and fires. Beavers slow the progress of water from land to sea, buffering floods and modulating silt discharge into coastal waters so that life there can thrive. Migratory birds and fish such as salmon transport marine nutrients inland,
sustaining the forests. Mycelial mats tie vast areas together in a neural network exceeding the human brain in its complexity. And all of these processes interlock with each other."
In other words, our planet is as alive as we are.
And everything we do to control how it manifests, without intuitively understanding the nature of it's "aliveness", inevitably has a domino affect on all the trillions of interconnected systems.
We poke it, and trample
it, and cut it, and fill it, and pave over it. We take all its freely given resources and manipulate them into "something better" or "something useful" or "something convenient" or "something we can sell", without much, if any awareness at all, of the significant
and complex downstream effects of these actions.
There's miraculous wisdom and intelligence in life and nature... even my single body is comprised of 7 billion billion billion atoms somehow cooperatively working together! And yet we rarely
appreciate or give respect to that intelligence as we interact with it. We forget that we are as much a part of it, as it is a part of us... and we forget that "it" knows a lot of stuff that we don't.
Our habitual use and control of life
as a sort of inanimate resource, and as something that can't be harmed by us any more than it "appears" to already harm itself, is a great misunderstanding that gets in our way of being able to work with it instead of against it.
do we do?
How can we possibly be smarter and kinder in service to life when it's all so complex and incomprehensible, AND when we live in a society that operates with little or no awareness of our integral (symbiotic) connection to it?
How do we affect change when we're just tiny specks in a mighty river of momentum of economics, politics, industry, consumer mindsets, consumer habits, educational systems, and social structures? How can we have any idea where to start, and what needs to be
fixed and how?
Is it possible that the answer may be that we don't need to know?
What if instead, we simply began to notice and trust in a greater intelligence in life, that somehow auto-corrects itself and runs itself
more efficiently and effectively whenever we live in harmony with it?
And what if being "in harmony" was simply being in LOVE, and being "out of harmony" was simply being "in FEAR"?
What if any action that comes from
a feeling of love... of any kind, in any measure, somehow ripples out in ways we can't intellectually understand, but in ways we can intuitively trust? And what if any action that comes from a feeling of fear, somehow ripples out in the same way?
What if there was miraculous significance in every loving moment... perhaps when we're inspired to smile at a passing stranger, or cuddle a puppy, or laugh with a coworker, or appreciate some music or art or a rainbow, or give a voice to the voiceless,
or choose to walk instead of drive, or dance, or forgive, or seek to understand, or even take a moment of personal rest from exhaustion?
Without habitually going into our intellect to seek proof or contradiction of this "power of love",
I'm sure we can all, in some way, intuit that love begets love, and fear begets fear. We can also intuit when any of our actions come more from a feeling of love or fear.
And with love being every human being's intrinsic preference...
perhaps we can trust the intelligence in just that, and lean more toward love, whenever and however it occurs to us... discovering the next brief moment of love and care within a billion little ways to fall in love with life?
Love in service
of love, and life in service of life.
A few "what ifs" to reflect on...
What if happiness was already always "within".
What if happiness
was more of a "being" or a "knowing" than a "doing"?
What if happiness (peace, love wisdom) was our default state (something we're born with) and that the feeling of it was simply realized and experienced in any of the moments when we
happened to not be fixated on our personal ideas of what or where happiness was?
What if the nature of life continually presented us with an up and down energetic flow of secure (happy) and insecure (not so happy) thought, and that the
trick wasn't to try to get or hang on to the secure flow, nor to try to avoid or numb or ignore or push down the insecure flow, but instead was to know that "up and down" was the nature of it all, and that happiness was experienced in simply, deeply realizing
the truth of that?
What if the understanding of happiness arose in simply realizing or sensing or remembering that we were intrinsically connected to everyone and everything in ways we can't even begin to comprehend (the oneness of life,
God, universal consciousness, universal mind, the energy of life itself)?
What if "All we were was peace, love, and wisdom, and the ability to create the illusion that we were not?" and that happiness was simply realizing that in some
What if happiness was simply knowing that it's completely OK to not feel happy?
What if happiness was knowing that at our core, we can never be broken?
What if happiness was not a state that
arose by effort, but a "knowing" that simply presented itself in the light of any moment of awareness?
What if happiness was not a result of effort, but was innate, and that all the efforting (trying to be what we already were) got in
the way of our realizing that?
What if happiness was simply and deeply knowing that we were always OK, no matter what (no matter whether we appeared to be happy or not)?
What if happiness was the exact OPPOSITE of
what we thought it was?... What if meditation, prayer, practicing gratitude, changing ourselves, changing our circumstances, avoiding/numbing/overcoming our pain was not the path to happiness, but instead, it was in our moments of realizing our intrinsic happiness
that we spontaneously expressed it through meditation, prayer, gratitude, service, change, play, and loving acceptance?
What if we didn't "get happiness" as a result of trying to get it, but already "were happiness" in complete absence
of all the trying?
What if God's language (happiness) was pure silence (always within us), and all else was poor translation?
What if happiness was simply the light of awareness?
What if happiness
was non-resistance to whatever is?
What if happiness was the awareness of the infinite abundance of life in ALL it's forms?
What if happiness was the realization of the impossibility and illusion of lack?
What if happiness was not a destination or a state to achieve, but a realization of being a willing passenger on this crazy, temporary, roller coaster ride of life?
What if happiness was a paradox... in that the achievement of it was
in the non-achieving of it?
What if happiness was not in the absence of hardships, but in our understanding of them?
What if happiness was more of a knowing than a believing?
What if happiness
was not just in the state of unbridled, uproarious laughter, but also in the complete absence of it?
What if happiness was just as present in the light as it was in the darkness?
What if happiness was always "right