Sunday, January 25, 2015

Make the Impossible Possible

About six years ago a friend found a bookmark stashed between some pages and gave it to me. “Make the impossible possible,” it says. It's been taped to my computer ever since. I love the idea of making the impossible possible (obviously), and this week there was evidence of just that.

As you know, I've been looking for a place to call my own for the millionth, billionth time. Since I came back to the Bay Area on New Year's, I've been staying with various friends and in a little cottage I found through A pretty miraculous thing that I mentioned is I've been easygoing about the whole “finding a place to live” situation. I haven't been too worried about it because I just wasn't, plus I pulled a petulant-child tantrum and said, “Universe, if you want me to live here, you have to find me a place to live!”

I get to live here! And by "here" I mean several miles away.
I get to live here! And by "here" I mean several miles away.

What unfolded was incredible. Every day I scoured craigslist multiple times waiting for something to show up. It never did. Everything in my price range was either a.) in a bad neighborhood b.) too small or c.) both. Yet I maintained my optimism that if I was supposed to look further afield, I would receive that guidance. Little did I know apartments would come to me and not the other way around.

A friend called me up and said he knew someone with a studio apartment in El Cerrito. She was currently listing it on, but he convinced her that she'd be better off renting it to me. I looked at the place . . . and it was too small. But still! How awesome that a friend thought of me and that I didn't have to compete with 100 other people for it, something that seriously happens in the Bay Area?

Then on Wednesday, a friend posted on facebook that her neighbor was moving out of his one-bedroom apartment and was anyone interested in subletting from him? I'm not comfortable with subletting, but I think it's important to follow through on opportunities when they present themselves. I walked up to the apartment – in Oakland, a place I didn't want to live again – to find a quiet complex pulled back from the street, situated in such a way that there would be no neighbors above or below me because the ground floor is parking and there is no third floor, well-insulated, etc. I told my friend that I was interested but to check and see how much the landlords would raise the rent for a new tenant.

The landlords wanted to raise the rent by $200 a month, but because I'm a friend of their current tenant, they agreed to $100 instead, which is the max I can pay. I filled out an application and the first time I met the landlords was when I was SIGNING THE LEASE. No advertising on craigslist, no meeting me, and just like that, I have an apartment that while not perfect, seems like it will meet my needs. It even has laundry onsite, which for the rent I'm paying is practically unheard of in this market. Oh and I have my own garage, which is even more unheard of.

It may not sound like all of this is impossible, but that's kind of the point. How many things do we think are impossible that are actually plausible? How many times are we certain something won't happen to us when it might, or it does? I won't say that I “made” the impossible possible, but I will say the universe is infinite and creative and perhaps there are more things existing in the realm of reason than we think.

I dream of a world where we realize impossible things are happening every day. A world where we realize there are more potentials than we give the universe credit for. A world where we allow for more magic and mystery in our lives.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Shadows on the Wall

This is a repost from December 2010.

Life can be so dramatic can't it? I may get caught up in the circumstances of life – of freaking out about spraining my ankle, getting laid off, tumultuous relationships, even death – but ultimately everything is an expression of an infinite loving consciousness. All of it is God, Brahma, Love, my Higher Power. When I remember that I stop falling for illusions.

In Sanskrit, there is a word maya that means just that – illusion. More deeply, maya means all the worldly trappings that distract us. That’s not to say the worldly trappings don’t exist, but really they are like shadows on the wall. They exist but we’re not seeing their true form.

Sometimes I get caught up in the "shadows" (aka, life stuff) and forget to focus on what's making the shadow.
Sometimes I get caught up in the "shadows" (aka, life stuff) and forget to focus on what's making the shadows.

I skimmed through one of my favorite books, A Return to Love looking for a quote to fit in with this blogpost and I came across, “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” The shadows may dance on the wall, but the hand that creates them remains unperturbed.

This post is my effort to return to love. To remind myself what is real. Is it the pain in my ankle? Is it my financial situation? No. They are merely shadows on the wall. The real reality is my higher power, the infinite loving consciousness. My ego likes to pretend otherwise, likes to enjoy the sound and the fury of life, if you will, because that’s the only way my ego will survive.

In truth, I am peace, I am love, I am divine. In truth, all is well, all always was well, all will always be well. No matter the circumstance I go through, no matter the upset, no matter the drama, it’s just noise. The hand creating the shadow is at peace. My soul, my essence remains untouched. Because ultimately love is all there is.

It’s easy to forget and disregard that notion. That everything is an expression of the divine. Especially when life is super dramatic. Except, that’s when I need to pause the most. That’s when I need to jerk my head away from the shadows dancing before me and remind myself where they’re coming from.

I dream of a world where we disengage from the ego’s drama. A world where we bisect the trouble and get to the heart of the matter, which is love is all there is. Even among the violence and upheaval, love is there. Love will always be there. Love always was there. I dream of a world where we know that and feel that and return to that. A world where we focus on the hand creating the shadow rather than the shadow itself.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Marking Time

I'm a coughing frog today so that's why there's no recording.

So often all I'm doing is marking time. Each day becomes about small tasks to check off my to-do list: work, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. It's not frequent that I take a step back and assess how far I've come. I know it's funny for me to say that because every birthday and holiday I'm assessing how I'm different from the year prior, but today is special because today is a huge anniversary.

On this day 10 years ago, I landed in London where I would be studying abroad for the next four and a half months. I was excited, nervous, sad. I trundled my black suitcase up Queen's Gate with a guy from my feature articles writing class, stopping cab drivers asking them where our building was.

Me, British Library
This is me, circa 2005, reading stuff in the British Library. Seemed appropriate for the title of this post. Sorry for the terrible quality. 

I knew everything and I knew nothing. My world was topsy-turvy. It may not seem like much, but this 10-year anniversary is getting to me because a lot has happened internally and externally since then. I'm getting a glimpse into the past and a cure for the amnesia where I think the way life is now is the way it always was.

At 20, I was a raw nerve, a copper wire without the insulation. I felt everything so deeply and intensely that the only way I could cope was through food and fantasizing about the future; two practices I'm no longer engaging in. When it comes down to it, my study abroad experience helped shape me into the adult I am in ways I never could have anticipated.

Living in London I worked for a website that reviewed restaurants. They encouraged me to plagiarize, and being the upstanding journalist that I am, could not handle that. I called in reinforcements (aka, my mom) to try to switch to something else to no avail. The internship people basically told me and my mother to suck it up and deal with it. It was that experience that ignited my fire and gave me compassion for others in similar, helpless situations. It showed me what mattered to me and how no, I can't work for just anyone, that some things are more important than money or internship credits.

I am really sick today, like, why-am-I-out-of-bed sick, so I apologize if this post is terrible. Mostly what I'm getting at is anniversaries are important times for reflection. To pat ourselves on the back for what we've done and to ask ourselves, “Do I like where I'm heading and who I'm becoming?” Life is about so much more than marking time or accumulating wealth. Today as I flipped through pictures all I could think was, “Why did I take so many pictures of buildings? Where are all the people?”

As I'm heading into a new decade I think that's a great reminder because 10 years on I don't care that I went to Notre Dame or visited Big Ben. I want to see pictures of friends and reminisce about that time we climbed statues in Trafalgar Square or we goofed off in Hyde Park. Seeing places is great and all, but I want to do more than mark time; I want to bond with those around me, to love and be loved.

I dream of a world where we take a break to assess our lives every once and a while. A period to check in on ourselves and determine if we like what we see. A world where we give and receive love. A world where we're doing more than just marking time.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Pursuing an Ideology

“Human beings should base their lives on an ideology. Those without an ideology do not view the world rationally or benevolently, but view it with the greedy eye of an exploiter.” – Shrii Shrii Anandamurtii

I've been thinking about the quote above all week, particularly how the “greedy eye of an exploiter” shows up in regards to relationships.

In her book A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson says ego-driven relationships are based on exploitation. “[E]ach one thinks the other has what he has not. They come together, each to complete himself and rob the other. They stay until they think that there is nothing left to steal, and then move on. And so they wander through a world of strangers, unlike themselves, living with their bodies perhaps under a common roof that shelters neither; in the same room and yet a world apart.”

Let's pursue an ideology the way horses run after things.
Let's pursue an ideology the way horses do: Full speed ahead.

Ouch. As much as I hate to admit it, I, too, “rob” others. It's a pretty common setup, actually. How often are we told to list the qualities we're looking for in an ideal partner, and how often do we possess those qualities ourselves? I know for me, I usually list things like “lighthearted” and “easygoing” because I want to balance out my serious and intense nature. When I think about Anandamurtii's quote though, the concept makes me uncomfortable. I don't want to exploit anyone – I'd much rather freely share my gifts with others, and vice versa, but not feel dependent on someone else so that I may be lighthearted and easygoing.

Miraculously, I am developing the qualities in myself that I seek in others. Right now, I'm looking for a place to live for the millionth, billionth time. Usually, I'm an anxious mess making contingencies after contingencies. This time I'm not worried about it. I have many friends in the area so I know I won't be sleeping on the street, but more than that, I'm trusting I'll be taken care of and something will show up.

In another example, I hitched a ride with a friend from LA to Oakland and he said to me, “If I hadn't driven you, how would you have gotten back?” I responded, “I don't know.” Because I didn't. In fact, I didn't even ask him to drive me, he offered. And if he hadn't, well, I would have figured it out. My friend was taken aback because here I was unconcerned about the whole thing. I'd say that's pretty lighthearted and easygoing.

I know I'm focusing on romantic relationships here, but I think the principle applies to other areas as well. Obviously there are times when we need help from others, but how often are we quick to sell ourselves short, believing we can't do something? How often do we think we need someone else before we've first turned within?

I guess what I'm saying here is I want to pursue an ideology, one that doesn't turn me into an exploiter, but rather someone who views the world rationally and benevolently as Anandamurtii suggests. It hasn't been easy by any means, but I can't tell you how rewarding it feels to cultivate the qualities in myself that I seek in others.

I dream of a world where we develop the qualities in ourselves that we search for in others. A world where we turn within more than we turn without. A world where we look for opportunities to serve rather than exploit. A world where we pursue an ideology.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.