I haven’t had much time to write, because there has been a lot of change in my life as of late. In particular, I have assumed new responsibilities as the leader for the nonprofit children’s museum for which I work. Sufficed to say, my life has been awash in change energy!
In the midst of change and transition, it is very easy to become unhinged, to lose one’s anchor in the thralls of Life‘s storms. In one of those moments, I happened to be listening to the audiobook, The Noble Heart by Pema Chodron. She was teaching about the present moment. Then, it occurred to me in a flash:
If things are always in transition, then we should enjoy the present moment, because it’ll only be that way in that moment!
So I stopped walking in my “on the way to…” fashion, lifted my face up to the sky, and drunk in the warmth of the sunlight. …
As the summer transitions into fall, and the autumnal equinox next week signals the return of the long winter night, I am aware more than ever of nature’s Wisdom. One of the things that I have come to appreciate is how efficient Life can be. Nature expends only as much energy as it needs to get an activity done. No more and no less. Nature’s tendency is towards simplicity.
Human beings, though, tend to complicate things. This is largely due to the fact that we are thinking beings. And our thinking tends to lead us away from our natural efficiency. We become obsessed with what other people might think, … about a future that will never arrive, … about a past that is too late to change.
Nature’s tendency is towards simplicity; so should ours be. …
Lately, a conversation that has been operating in the background, draining away at my emotional batteries, is imagining what Aaron would say to me and what I would say to him if and when we reconnect with each other in April. His birthday is in a month; the end of our six-month break in only 9 weeks. So much has happened in the time since we last spoke: In gentle and not-so-gentle ways, I’ve learned much about who I say I am; about what’s important to me; about what nourishes me; and about what it means to be in Lifelong Partnership with another man.
I am sure that Aaron has gone through a much more intense yet similar process of self-exploration. I’m sure he has discovered for himself new insights that help him to see the ways I have always known him to be, … that help him see his potential to expand the Love I know him to be.
Yet, I have a fear that, in finding answers, there is one question that is both inconsequential given our current circumstances and yet essential all at the same time: What about Us? Can two people who shared the deepest of Love change so much that that love no longer fits between them? … And in beginning to answer this, I realize that Love didn’t ever belong to Us but to the world.
For the past three years, I have maintained the practice of taking the nine days from my birthday to the New Year to reflect on what I have learned, how I have grown, and how I have walked the path that is my own to walk. This year, in particular, feels like I have so much upon which to reflect. So much has changed. I am thankful for my family and friends: Through everything, they have held me, challenging me to live a life that I love. I am most grateful to my team at work: I have been blessed to work with the most creative, committed educators and artists, people who have the biggest hearts and sincerest desire to make a difference in this world. My life has been especially anchored by my cousin, Donna; BFF, Rashida; and therapist, Kevin Avila, who each provided unconditional love and support during the darkest hours of this year. And of course, my life has been changed forever by the friendship, love and partnership I have shared for the past two years with Aaron: I have learned how to live, love, and dance more fully because of him, and my very being will always bear the mark that he has impressed upon me.
I’m sure that I will continue to reflect on the many lessons that I have learned in this “Year of Miracles.” The one that stands out for me in this moment is that this is my life. Right here and right now is all that I have. It can’t be anything other than what it is. It is both beautiful and messy, peaceful and turbulent. It is all this. … And my heart is both brimming with love for the world and aching with sadness for the loss of something that mattered to me. My body wishes to dance and move in full self-expression, and I feel paralyzed by those things that continue to weigh on me. My spirit yearns to unfold, expand and share itself, and at the same time, I feel like contracting and hiding away from the potential hurts and pains.
And so this is the dance of life … fully present and ever on the edge. This is the profound privilege it is to Be the Love that only I can be. … And so it is!
As I sit here in bed, needing to have been asleep hours ago, I have Aaron running through my mind again. In particular, I am thinking about that moment three months ago when he and I were trying to figure out how much time to take to be apart. I’m the one who suggested the six months, based on what I had heard from others about how long it takes to heal from this kind of heartbreak. On the other hand, he suggested three months, reconnecting in time for my birthday.
There’s a part of me that is kicking myself now, because I so desperately miss Aaron right now and would give almost anything to just hear his voice and see his handsome face again. … And yet, it is precisely because of this feeling that there is wisdom in the time we have put between us.
If this time is supposed to be about healing, how do I know when I’ve “sufficiently” healed? Is it when the heart stops aching … because it won’t ever fully stop aching? Is it when I stop thinking about him … because he’ll always be there, in my thoughts and dreams? … I think that is the problem: I’ve been expecting for the healing to be a return to the way things were … but things won’t ever be the same.
It’s almost comical the ways in which my life (and Life, in general) seems to structure itself so that I learn the spiritual lesson on which I might be concentrating at that particular time. Since Thanksgiving, I have been practicing focusing on the present moment. It feels difficult, because I feel like it I’m constantly thinking either about how the past should’ve been or about how the future could be. Yet, enjoying the fact that, for the most part, at this particular moment, there is little to no drama in my life … that I am fast approaching my birthday and aware of how I feel about no longer being as young as I used to be … that my family helps me to just appreciate how fragile life is … that I have compassionate friends, like Andy, who have given me the space to just be with the loss of my relationship with Aaron and who continue to encourage me to focus on self-care … that, right now, I am sick, which gives me the perfect moment to slow down … I am compelled to just be with my own experience.
Last week, one of my mentors shared with me a data point that I found intriguing: A recent study showed that about 25 “calamities” occur in a given day to make it virtually impossible to find and stay at a point of Balance. This point seems more profound right now, because it puts the challenge of Being in perspective. If, as that trite old adage says, it is the case that there is nothing constant except for change, we are not fully connected to our own experience for the most part. Moreover, if we’re not connected to our own experience, then that really means that we are not connected to who we really are. We are not connected to our inherent Perfection and Wholeness.
Thus, being present to my own experience is my answer to the question, “Who am I?” Being present to the right here and now is the path that leads to back to my self. …
Last night, I was up late, and I found myself missing Aaron. I found myself looking at his photos, and later at the email exchanges between us before we agreed to take time apart from each other. And I saw something that I wasn’t able to see before in my anger and grief.
I saw that Aaron really didn’t know what to do. He really was doing the best that he could, given all that he was experiencing in a new culture and new country. He really did still love me, even if I couldn’t hear it at the time. … And in seeing that, my heart softened, and I cried in forgiveness.
Forgiveness feels like a difficult thing, because it’s very easy in our righteousness to hold on to our grievances so we can be right. So how do we get to the space where it’s not about any of this? I think that forgiveness first begins with simply acknowledging that another point of view is possible. When we see that other perspectives can exist, we make room for other people in our world.