I grew up going to church, and I have to admit that as a child I rather liked it. It was fun to go and be in community, to sing and dance and generally be joyful together. I liked Sunday school, and the chance to be a good student. To show off my ability to memorize stories and connect themes. It wasn’t until around age 10 that the solidity of the Christian faith began to crumble before the inquiry of this innocent youth. I was asking questions the religion couldn’t seem to answer.
No problem though, because after spending my teen years in quiet rebellion against religion, I eventually came back to some spiritual understanding. At age 19 I found a spiritual path that made sense to me. And even though life was as tumultuous as ever, my own spiritual understanding had begun to take root and grow.
If you've followed my blog, you'll know that in the past I've been a dedicated martial artist and studied martial arts philosophers of the east like Musashi, and written several other blogs on the topic of warrior spirit. This time, though, I'm speaking to a different dimension of the same concept. That is, the notion of a rogue warrior, or the quality of being mercenary. This is a big topic that warrants more than a simple blog post, but I will touch on a few elements that have been present for me lately.
Like so many others, I grew up with low self-esteem. Who’s to say why, probably for a number of reasons. After my parents divorced, I turned to food in an attempt to manage my emotions, and ended up spending my teens a bit overweight. I also grew up in a mainly white area and always felt slightly out of place. My pimply brown skin stood out like an oil spot in the sea of white faces. Whatever the cause, however you slice it, my inner critic was deafening.
Writing a story, dancing, freestyle, where does it come from? When I'm in the flow of it, I might be tempted to stop and think, is this really coming from me? But I don’t stop. Because I know that to stop and think is to halt the flow. It’s to lose sight of the moment. It’s to fall back onto my seat, instead of taking a dynamic stand.
Have you noticed how fun and exciting it can be to share about your goals and dreams with other people? To talk about what you intend to accomplish, what you dream about for yourself, and how exciting certain ideas are to you? I've noticed it too. But I've learned something very important: if I have a goal, to shut up about it.
I often hear people encourage each other to never give up, to stay in the fight and give it your all! While this no doubt comes from a well-meaning place, in actuality I think it is terrible advice. Of course, there are times when we must endure the myriad of difficulties we face in life, not throwing in the towel until we've given everything we have. But I would also highlight that there are times when the best thing is to walk away, to regroup and live to fight another day.
Lately I've not had much interest in writing here. In fact, I've had a hard time giving any attention at all to what's going on in the world. I scroll through social media and see that the insanity of this world has been given a megaphone. I go out and see heartbroken people carrying on with dim awareness. I sometimes feel afraid and alone, wondering if there is really a place for me here. I wonder how many people want to hear a message about truth, beauty, and timelessness. I wonder if I'll be forced to choose between revealing my heart, and keeping my friends.
Any fighter can tell you that the more you resist, the easier it will be for you opponent to take you. The harder I hold, the faster I lose energy. The more rigid I stand, the easier it is to take me off balance. The mark of a beginner is one who attempts to use strength and force to overcome their opponent. The more experienced practitioners would give a slight smile and teach the enthusiastic beginner that, although strength is important, how it's applied is more important still.
My contemplation today has been, what is resurrection, and how have I been impacted by it?
Resurrection occurs when a thing once thought dead returns to life. A thing left in the past reemerges in the present. Perhaps even when an aspect of my being is forgotten, long ago sealed away, reappears in an alive way. For example, the characteristics of my child-self- playful, innocent, open-hearted- return again to show that they are still alive in me. In this way, resurrection is a blessing. But too, shadows of the past, the things I'd like to leave dead sometimes come back again. An old hurt I caused someone else, a time when I behaved recklessly and put others at risk, I might try to seal them away out of my memory, but they visit again even without invitation. In this way, resurrection can also be a blessing.
In my corporate career, I spent the first few years learning the language, practicing the forms, and working hard to gain status and influence. This initial period was characterized by a focus on material gain and security, and it lasted for about 5 years. At a certain point, I became disenchanted with the play of things, and as a result I felt less and less engaged. Gradually my attention began to shift to alternative ways of organization and the fundamental question of what a human needs for effective collaboration.
2016 was the year of the Monkey, and we faced some truly wild energies. Unpredictable happenings were the norm this year, and the world will never be the same for so many reasons. Not the least of them is the political upheaval that put a crack in the foundation of the old establishment and left many people trembling. But just as important is the art, music, and other movements that humans produced. The quickening of the uncovering of fear and scarcity is directly related to the deepening of the awareness of Love all around the globe. The tragedy is that they are not often found together.
A few weeks ago I wrote a celebratory post about coming out called, I Get to be Here. It's about the pain of hiding who we really are, the impact on physical and mental health, and the frustration of fighting with oneself over "who to be" in order to get the love and connection we need. I call it a celebration of coming out because the process of just being me as authentically as I can feels a little like coming out of the closet. Like I had been hiding part of myself, and now moving beyond the need to do that.
As I wander intentionally down the path of self-awareness and inner exploration, I continue to find these wedged in beliefs or patterns stuck as though to the side of a gooey cave of flesh and mucous. Like a parasitic guest who lives only by my not noticing that it is there. Because when I become aware of its presence, I start to take steps to root it out.
There's something magical that happens when I get a chance to witness the interconnectedness of life. The three dimensional world collapses, and a new reality emerges in which differences are hardly noticed, as the sameness of life takes center stage. This can happen in many ways, and for me it's usually small synchronicities that pop up as I go through my day. Someone around me says the words that are on my mind, my friend calls me on the same day I planned to call him, someone offers me the thing I was just about to ask for. However it happens, it can feel like recognizing myself in another, or simply that for a moment I lose track of any sense of "otherness".