A girlfriend who is considering a change wrote me last night. She wondered how hard the transition was for me, as a teacher, leaving the thriving Connecticut community for the quieter solitude of the Massachusetts Green Mountain Forrest. I admitted, the actual change wasn’t difficult at all. But before I could embrace this new life I love…..I had to face a fear I didn’t even know I had.
It was the fear of being obsolete and forgotten. Of not being seen and thus, I would no longer matter. As if only by my exposure to the world could my relevance be measured.
I wonder how many of us feel that way? Compelled to put ourselves out there constantly, relentlessly…..for fear the world will forget our worth. And it will. That’s the truth. The hoard of anonymous numbers we work so hard to amass and maintain are far quicker to dissipate than ever were to grow.
You don’t have to trust everything out in the world, but you need to be able to connect inside and learn to trust your heart. And maybe that’s one of the beauties of age, is that you become so much more secure in that…..intuition suddenly becomes stronger and more clear. I find it easier to listen to myself, to the signals I get…..I’m learning to respond much more efficiently.
And what I’ve realized is, that’s ok with me. Because I’m ok with me. This was my most challenging transition. Bigger than a move. And a place of far greater significance.
And so to my friend I wrote, yes it was hard. As all good and wonderful things tend to be.
On Monday, Namgyal Institute for Buddhist Studies will release a new episode of the Westchester Meditation Center podcast with teacher, Monica Gauci…..a remarkable and brilliant woman who mostly lives off-the-grid. We chatted for hours, as butterflies flew in and out of her open-air sitting room, overlooking the valleys and distant coast. I’m reminded that these are the connections, the moments, that will always matter most. And the ones that the Namgyal Teachers and I are grateful to be able to share…..with you.
Here’s a twist for the 10 year-challenge we offer students at Namgyal Retreats…..what would you go back and share with your decade-younger self?
I look back and remember what a time she was going through. I wish I could tell her this: I know you can’t feel the hand that guides you but that’s the way it must always be. So you will feel lost, but it’s only because this way is new to you. You will feel helpless, but you are stronger than you know. And this time will help reveal to you your power. You will feel like you are losing the battle all the way up until there is no battle at all.
It’s all by design. We cannot recognize the Universe’s (God, Paramatma, Brahmin, Waheguru, Jah) face when she stands before us….you will only recognize her back, as she lifts her hand to leave. That’s when you will realize, the Universe was with you the whole time.
That’s the way it always is, of course. We never see what is happening while it’s happening…..only after. And why history books are never written in the moment. We must wait for time to pass before the questions ever make sense. We need time. We need space.
And so I would reassure my 2009 self this: Don’t trust the people who use your kindness to their advantage. You are perfect where you are and as you are. In a few years, you will see. You will understand. But until then, make friends with the questions. They are not to be feared. In fact, I’m starting to think….these questions ARE the face of the Universe.