Discoverer of Secrets - First Grade
September 3, 2011
Getting the Secret
Life events often collide. We do not have the luxury of spacing out the impacts, the losses, pain and suffering or the love, joy or accomplishments. Balance must be acquired by different means. I believe this is one of the great secrets of life. Finding your own path, your own truth of how to foster joy and happiness in the midst of loss and sadness. And when loss becomes the most resonating part of your life, you are highly motivated to locate the secret solution.
My Mother liked to tell a story about me when I was in first grade that I’ve always loved. I did not easily adjust to school. I lived a lot in my own head with a lot of escapism and fantasy and I can even remember drifting off in day dreams often. I think there was a certain amount of sensory overload. Also, my Father was in Vietnam. I was 6 and I had 3 siblings at home, a 4 year-old sister a 2 year-old brother and a 1 year old brother. My two year-old brother was born deaf and with other health problems. I think back on that time now and wonder where my Mother found the strength and kept her sanity. So much responsibility, so young herself. And my Father thousands of miles away fighting in a war.
Anyway, I was a distracted 6 year-old and I felt like a fish out of water. It felt like everyone else knew how to do this school thing but me. My teacher was Mrs. Sally. And Mrs. Sally was kind and gave me special attention I think. She helped me along the way. She had to explain things to me more than once much of the time. And even then, certain concepts did not resonate. One day she was going over a math lesson with me, for the umpteenth time. Suddenly the light went on in my head. I had the AH, HA moment! I got it! And I said “Mrs. Sally, I got the secret!” I must have thought of it as a secret, since everyone but me seemed to know how to do this stuff but me! So that afternoon I excitedly went home and announced to my Mother that Mrs. Sally had “told me the secret.”
This is what challenges in life sometimes feel like to me. There is an answer if I could just see it. There is a way for me to understand myself and the world around me. I just have to keep at it, be patient and pay attention. And so it is a gift in life when we do figure out these “secrets” that help to make sense of our lives.
I’m reading How to Expand LOVE by none other than the Dalai Lama. To be perfectly honest I started to read this book years ago and then set it in a pile of books to be revisited at some future date. So now I pick it back up with new purpose and interest. The Dalai Lama says that “Happiness comes through taming the mind; without taming the mind there is no way to be happy.” This makes more sense to me now. It also seems more imperative to understand this now than it would have just a few years ago.
I have often felt so fortunate, blessed; that I have had tools at my disposal to deal with the internal demons and pain that I carried from childhood. I do believe that loneliness and suffering are integral parts of being human. So are love, compassion and kindness. So whether I came from an alcoholic home and all that entails or not, there is my mind, my emotions, a wandering, questioning mind and endless desires of life for me to put into perspective. So I am grateful for resources. Friends, counselors, 12 step meetings, wise elders and women’s groups over the years. I have found much love and support and much wisdom available to me.
The last few months I have gone back to revisit some of this wisdom. The yearning for a daily spiritual practice to help keep me on track. Gravitating toward certain physical activities that draw my breath, without beating up my body. Walking, swimming and now I think I am falling back in love with Yoga. And really, maybe for the first time ever, truly sensing the significance of “the breath” related to yoga and life. It sounds silly I imagine. But it is a life source and I think I have so often gone through life holding my breath, figuratively and often literally.
So I am learning to appreciate the most basic part of my physiology, breathing. Paying attention to my breath when I try to meditate. And being comfortable with the idea that right now trying is just fine! Hearing my breath as I swim laps in the pool, and thoroughly enjoying how the water cools this perimenopausal vessel I dwell in.
This morning I revisited part of a series of yoga positions I have practiced off and on for years. More off than on honestly. I felt like I understood something about moving through these positions and the natural sequence of breathing with the movements in a different way. It is, of course, a meditation in of itself. It is my next step in integrating more of a mind, body and heart connection. I cannot explain how or whey this is resonating with me now. I have known pieces of all of this for as long as I can remember, but as the Buddhist proverb says “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
Today I feel energized and happy. Under the immediate surface I certainly feel my sadness and melancholy over this impending one year anniversary of the intense weeks preceding my Mother’s death. I am ever mindful of her as I go through my days. Missing her more than ever. Yearning for her presence and still morning the loss. But I do it today with a full heart and special gratitude of all the life still before me and the tools to uncover the secrets that keep pulling me toward understanding why I am here and what my own purpose is.