Ancient Egyptians believed that upon death they would be asked two questions and their answers would determine whether they could continue their journey in the afterlife.  
The first question was, "Did you bring joy?"  
The second was, "Did you find joy?"

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jet Lag and Morning Thoughts

I woke up about an hour ago, 6 a.m. Mumbai time, 5:30 in the evening, yesterday in Seattle.  It's fair to say that my body doesn't yet know where it is, but I feel more rested.

My mind turned on quickly and thought over my post from last night and instantly threw this at me: Think from the Heart?  That's gonna be impossible, we are using our head here because once we start really using the heart, you are going to fall apart.

Don't you like it how my head gangs up on me?

But, my mind has a point.

I don't have a fear of wanting to go home, not really, only a fear that when I completely allow myself to feel, I will be overwhelmed by confusion and sadness and helplessness.

My mind threw me one little bone though.  It keeps telling me that the use of the words "desperation" and "despair" don't seem quite right.  The conditions I am witnessing would cause me despair were I to live like so many people here do.  But I do not actually know if I correctly perceive "desperation" from the folks who are actually living here on the streets.  It seems crazy to think that they would not be desperate to change their lot, but there is a different flavor, a different spice to their emotional quality that I cannot grasp yet; maybe I never will.

I am positioned, it seems to me, at the fulcrum of a see-saw and on one end is the task of trying to understand how people live in this culture that is so very very very foreign to me.  On the other end is the job of understanding how to be myself and to hold myself peacefully and joyfully no matter how far from home I am.  Somewhere between the two lies a perfect balance of experience.  For now, though, I think I cannot hold both steady at the same time.


S.P. Miskowski said...

It sounds like you ARE balancing. Maybe it isn't necessary to try. Maybe you are finding balance naturally. Does that ring true?

When I travel, the temptation to project my responses onto people feels overwhelming. But this may be what we do to make things make sense to us. It is much harder to do what you are doing--being yourself, in yourself, and learning what people think and feel without projecting yourself onto them. I think that's a bit scary only because it's easier if we can label things. You are choosing the more interesting and rewarding path, friend.

Love to you today and every day.

auntiemao said...

You know, my dear, whenever I could not make heads or tails of something, my dear old dad always offered the same advice, "Sis, just use your common sense." In terms of what you're trying to balance, the word "sense" seems to cover both head AND heart and "common" could mean both what you know and the experience you're being offered. See how some sage old wisdom from Maine might fit the bill?!
I'm reading every word you write as, I am certain, are many more of your friends and family. We're with you every step of the way.
Much love from North Seattle and BTW, my profile pic is my dad.....

Tina Rowley said...

You have such wise friends chiming in here!

Yes, I'm thinking about balance, physical balance, and how we use it, and when one is balancing in a position that requires the conscious use of balance (and even when it's not one that needs the conscious use of it), the body is never totally perfectly still. Adjustments are constantly being made this way and that. Sometimes huge ones, when we wobble a lot, and sometimes more micro-adjustments. I bet S.P. is on to something, that you're doing it naturally.

I would offer something in addition to holding yourself peacefully and joyfully, which is a wonderful orientation. I would offer that if you hold yourself truthfully, you can't miss. And the truth may be that you require time in your head - it may be exactly what your heart demands, as it prepares to meet what it's meeting.

I have a feeling that your heart is already more in charge than you imagine. But talk, talk, tell us. We're listening, and adjusting as we do.

Such, such huge love. Constantly. I'm with you. And I'm so glad to know what TIME it is over there!

What's for lunch?

Love love love.

Emily said...

I'm just catching up, friend, and I love you for your boldness, for your caution, for your head and your heart and your sense of journey. You are learning and teaching so much...

Thank you for all of this. I'm thinking about you so much, and am glad to be in your virtual company.


Christopher said...

Hm, is it possible somebody is working on Lesson One of a refresher course on "the four noble truths"?

You seem to be feeling unbalanced, a little adrift and doubtful, a little stressed, but at the same time still keenly aware of the condition of those around you. It's been 30 years since I took "Intro to Eastern Philosophies", so I totally admit I had to look it up, but what you seem to be experiencing is "dukkha": awareness of the truth of suffering, first of the four noble truths.

Yet despite your discomfort, you also seem determined nevertheless to observe it unflinchingly, and to perceive it, not through the cultural filters and preconceptions you've packed with you (along with the shirts and sandals), but as it truly is.

And so, I guess I shouldn't be surprised to learn (again!) that what you're doing is precisely the appropriate response to your situation: developing a higher sense of compassion, both for yourself as well as for others.

Pretty darned good progress I'd say for only a couple of days at school...