Sooner or later, we all must ask ourselves the hard questions. One of the hardest is “What do I really want out of my time here on earth?” I was asking myself and God this question for a long long time. The answer didn’t come easy, or very soon. When it finally came, it was so onvious. I had known it, deep down, all my life.
1) I want to express my Self. Not a personality, but my true self, the one I usually guard and hide from the world. Not the self the world taught me to be– but who I lwas born to be, and I still am on the inside.
3) I want to help other people tell their truth too.
I have actuallly been a writer almost all my ife., though I didn't know it. I knew it when I was six, but everybody laughed, so I gave it up. I discovered a desire to write even before I went to first grade. I was a mid-year baby and my parents decided I wasn’t ready to start school at five and a half, so they waited till six and a half and meanwhile my Dad started teaching me to read.
I loved it. I fell madly in love with words, and the pictures they could make. I read everything I could get my sticky little hands on: magazines, Granny’s old poetry books, Winnie the Pooh, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and my mother’s most beloved childhood book, Black Beauty. After that I read all the horse books in the public library. When I had read all the children’s books, I read whatever else I found. I read Greek and Roman mythology. I read books from the back my father's bookshelf, like Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” I read 1,001 Arabian Nights– an astonishing collection of stories that are magnificently crafted, though I didn’t know it then. All I knew was that there was magic, wonder, and mystery in books, and incredible journeys could be taken throuh them. In adulthood I would discover philosophical and spiritual books of all kinds, from Ancient Greek to Judaic to many Middle Eastern faiths. In them there was a thread of truth that was unbroken, though expressed in so many different ways by so many people trying to understand it all, just as I would too someday when I grew up.
None of this did I understand very well, but all of it stirred and thrilled me with the mystery of the words. Every book was full of mystery and wonder because I knew there was much more than I could understand, and I tremendously wanted to know. That was my earliest perception of human life - that there was so much more of it than I could yet know or understand. I still have that tremendous desire to know “all of it,” all of the words. And even more, I want to learn, to discover, and to write the things I have come to understand and the things I am seeking to understand.
Even as I say this, I feel the rush of fears and apprehensions that, for all of us, accompany any deep desire. Ghosts of childhood experiences rise up again, the anticipation of disappointment, of polite rejection or disapproval for daring to create something, daring to try to do something that might matter. I have spoken my truth in poetry that will never be published. Yes, that’s a big part of the internal resistance that comes up each time a heart lifts up, and we dare or to dream. This I know, is one of the tasks of life and spirit, for all of us alike, to break through this binding fear. In truth, this natural fear is no more than shadows from the past that still hang around.
I believe that at some level, we all want to share the gifts we’ve been given, and to bring some good to the world. And now I have come back to the first statement of the first discovery of my childhood - I want to express my RealSelf in this world. I want to give my Self, and have it be welcomed, not laughed at, not rejected but received. I don’t want fame. I just want to tell the truth and have the courage to do it without being embarrassed or ashamed of who and what I truly am, and what I have to give.
I also think about What I DON’T want– I don’t want stress. I don’t want to work in an environment where I’m pushed and pulled or assaulted and insulted, carry a crushing load working at a job I don’t love. Yet I have done that - for many years, and it gave me cancer. I didn't knowingly choose that– But when it happened, I realized that the life I was living chose it for me, and I alone had chosen the life I was living.
I know now that what I choose, consciously or unconsciously, is what the universe unfailingly sends. If I see myself as a victim, I will certainly be victimized, again and again. So now I try to be aware of what I am thinking and feeling, because I know that these things profoundly shape my life. And so it is for all of us.
Breaking away from an old image or an old self-concept that no longer fits, is not a quick or easy thing to do, but for any of us, but it is absolutely doable. The first step: you recognize that something's got to change, and that you have the power to change it. I know with certainty that anything is possible, even the most improbable, impossible things. I know this to be true because in my life I have done some of them.
So now I LOOK for joy, wherever I find even a whisp of it, and I go toward it at every opportunity. Today the way of the world, the "life-style" is insanity, rage, revenge, and careless violence, and so a great many people are choosing that. I don’t choose that, and you don’t have to choose that. I still have times when anger comes up, or resentment comes up; of course I do/ I'm human. But I can choose not to feed-into them. I've learned that when I don't feed them, they fade and die. This is true of everything in life, love or hate. What you focus your mind on will grow, and what you refuse to give harbor to, will die. You you have the power to help or harm.
We don’t realize how powerful we really are. Whatever we hold in our mind, whether consciously or unaware, always manifests in our lives, and we are always giving life-energy to what we focus on. When we focus on our fears, resentments, or injustices, we bring more of what we don’t want into our lives– more of the fearful things, more unfairness, more injustice. We can choose what we really want the same way, by turning our focus and thoughts away from what is angry, hurtful, joyless and fearful, and intentionally choosing and holding onto thoughts of what we would rather have in our lives instead.
I want peace and grace. I want and time and space dedicated to a mindful life and work. I want to live and work in joy. I know now that for me, joy is the master key. This realization came to me as a crystal-clear message when I was in the darkest hours of my cancer, drowning in all those terrifying fears and regrets. I knew that the only way to get well and stay well in every cell of my body was to choose faith instead of fear, and choose joy in the smallest of things wherever I possibly could. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I cried a lot. A voice within me gave me this mantra, and told me to speak it alound over and over whenever I was afraid. I did, even in oiblic Iwhispered it so no one would hear. It was this: "My Father God is healing me. I am whole and perfect and beautiful.' These were certainly not words I would have used to describe myself, but I did as I was guided, and after kept saying them over and over as the fear really did soften and fade, and release me for a while. There was surgery, hospital, but I held on to the mantra and the hope of complete healing, and refused to allow the fear to own me.
When I got the news that the cancer was gone, my relief and my gratitude to God and Life were so overwhelming that I cried for days. Every time I looked up at the trees, glittering gold-edged in the October sunlight against the deep blue sky, my heart was flooded with an unspeakable gratitude, and my face was flooded with the tears of an intense joy that was unlike any feeling I had ever felt before. I saw things I had never seen before. Even the air was alive, and the simple morning sunlight was not just shining, it was streaming over everything it touched like a river of light. This was not just happiness, this was the real meaning of Joy.
So now every day I remind myself to consciously choose joy instead of Being Right, instead of Winning the arguement, instead of getting-even, instead being the smartest, or always winning the race, or needing to. Instead of dying for what I believe in, I choose to live for it. I have set for myself the goal of joyful work. I choose the path of intuition, of inspiration, the path of my soul’s yearning. I know now that I can have that, if I choose it, ask for it, and believe in it. God has promised this, and God always keeps His promises. Now I am One Who Keeps Promises too.