A tapestry never woven …

“Destiny itself is like a wonderful wide tapestry in which every thread is guided by an unspeakable tender hand, placed beside another thread and held and carried by a hundred others.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

On my journey, I have come to see that my life is like many things … many metaphors that accurately reflect the feelings felt as each day is traveled and lived.  Recently, there is this sense that life is something of a blanket wrapped around me for spiritual and psychological warmth.  A blanket being woven as I wear it, the weave ever changing in color and texture and reflecting what is needed to feel joyful and whole. 

But as I wrap myself in this ever-growing blanket, feeling the warmth and tactile pleasure offered, I also realize that there are gaps … holes where the colors and treads fail to merge and join.  Spots, sometimes large, where the soothing warmth escapes and cold winds enter.  Gaps that seem to forever announce that life is imperfect and simply a quest for the best possible … not the absolute.  Gaps where emotional chills signal the quest remains for the right color and thread and needle to close the space and experience yet more warmth. 

And as some of the gaps are made whole and warmth created or restored, I also realize that the weaving of my personal blanket will never end.  No moment in my journey will ever bring that intense sense of completion.  Such feelings may be reserved for that final moment of transition where whatever is beyond the human experience presents itself and I step through the portal into the next plane, how ever it may look and feel.

So, the life task before me seems to be one of moving with intention to discover, assess, then close whatever gaps disrupt the flow of my blanket’s design and warmth while also knowing that gaps will always remain.  And once that realization is internalized, letting go of the concept of completion and moving forward simply focused on incremental gains in warmth and pleasure.  A subtle but dramatic shift for me, but one that I sense will bring greater joy.  At least that is how it seems today. 

And look there … a hole … now what color and thread might “feel” the best? Let me see …

It’s my life, and it’s now or never.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau

Recently, I spent a week in the Sierras.  It is a place like no other, offering my soul the deep emotional cleansing so often needed to maintain my inner sense of wholeness and peace.  As I sat on granite thrones, serenaded by ageless trees as they were touched by the timeless wind, my senses were flooded with “Tree Music” … a rich, powerful symphony played out in a theater hosted by the Universe and touched by God. 

Such sounds have always moved me … calling forth inner songs and melodies rarely surfaced but deeply felt.  In those moments I thought of its place within the puzzle of my life, and clearly realized it is pure, unequaled joy.  Alone, serenaded while gazing out onto the basin leading to other ranges, I thought of this moment.  Its richness. Its uniqueness.  Its rarity.  Such a gift, especially while knowing the fact that the forces collaborating in this instant will be gone forever in moments ahead.

As I reflected on the “feelings” being felt, I saw in the moment its significance … the “why” I have been given this rare instant in the Universe’s playground of time.  It is to tell me that my life too …  my instants of the “now” … will also soon disappear into the past.

And it is because of that impermanence … that known axiom of Universal experience, that a message once again clearly voiced itself.  The message … one must live in the instant.  One must not falter in the void of time for deeper consideration, but rather react from a wilder, less tame place triggered by emotion and feelings. 

My observation … when one reaches a place along life’s journey such as me, impermanence becomes more pronounced … nearer … more poised to sweep away the moment.  I see I must shed caution and deep consideration and focus on reacting based on feelings and instant response.  “If not now, then when …” a close friend recently proclaimed.  And that phrase … those simple, chosen words now serve as my reminder on how to live each moment given me.  The time is now … “feelings” drive the choices … and each moment must be lived, not skipped, or delayed, but embraced with all that dwells inside me.

As captured in a Bon Jovi song …

It’s my life, and its now or never.

I ain’t going to live forever.

I just want to live until I die.

Joyful life … joyful aging … a journey of change

“For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest.”   – Hasidic saying

My last entry talked to embracing “change”, seeing it as the catalyst to truly making joyful life decisions.  As I look back across this past month, I wanted to assess my movement in this new direction.  Have I truly “changed” and begun to embrace a new, daily awareness of bringing myself joy?  Have I tuned myself to a new melody … a new song reflecting a fresher day-to-day life?  Am I moving towards someplace new so that the old no longer defines the Me?  Just some of the questions surfacing as I reflect upon and explore answers.

Reflection and non-judgmental assessment … powerful tools for a man traveling his end years and who desires each moment to bring him richness.  A man that now wants to morph into his increasingly mature persona, benefit from wisdom gained on his journey, and walk more peacefully with the natural forces converging on his years.

So, I look back and compare now to then while determining if I resist or embrace the “changing” me.  I am encouraged!  Here are two examples of me being true to my intentions …

  • Wilderness backpacking and hiking – Backpacking and hiking are truly my passion.  Both are softer now, respecting a body aged by time and an active life.  The days where I defined myself by the miles hiked and the weight carried have morphed into a new metric focused on the time spent in settings that evoke a spiritual sense of wellbeing and deep sense of connection with nature.  Instead of working harder, I listen more to the songs sung by nature and the planet.  More often I now embrace kinder approaches to hiking where the need to briefly rest while going uphill is accepted and seen as simply part of my natural cadence, and not seen as weakness or failure. Acceptance of the new “natural cadence” both aligns with my physical reality but also offers joyful satisfaction, intensified by the increased focus on the spiritual qualities of the setting and connection with nature.  Yes, the package is quite different, both inside and outside, but the sense of “fit” is significant, resulting in more joyful play doing something I deeply enjoy.
  • Exercise and conditioning – Exercise, long a measure of my “who I am” now no longer is defined by miles ran or intensity of the training circuit.  The mantra of “no pain, no gain” is replaced by determining how my routines and effort enable me to remain active while years pass.  Yes, my body leaves my workout knowing muscles have worked.  My weight routines remain meaningful while the focus shifts and becomes more subdued and accepting of less weight in favor of less post-routine discomfort or injury.  But it is now more about how good it feels … how consistently engaging in weights and other exercise allows me to remain active and able to fully engage in my outdoor passions as I consciously embrace co-existing with my body as it leans toward stiffness and less flexibility.

More examples exist but I feel confident my new inner song is heard.  Much more change awaits, and I certainly have things I continue to cling to or have yet to define which create conflict between my “now” and my “once was”.  But I now use those moments as a compass pointing me to the places needing my personal work.

And why put effort into understanding and reforming these points?  Because each point of conflict reflects a place in my life where joy is locked out or impaired.  The payoff is great for the work directed at these points helps lead me in my desired direction.  And that exploration is now done with greater tolerance for things I cannot do as I did when a younger man. 

Yes, I sense I still have much work ahead to be more “living in the moment” and at peace with the idea of age and death.  My life has become so wonderfully full and rich, and my health so good that when something arises that might cause a crack in that shell, I can feel the attachment creating fears along with the yearning to understand and not fall victim to the message.  And if time were spent, I am sure other messages would emerge.  It is interesting what is being triggered.  The Universe seems to be opening a door into a room I have not decorated … maybe I should make sure that I take advantage of it … and bathe in the expressions it evokes.

Unencumbered

“I am repeatedly reminded that life is a constant journey of change and adapting to it.  As I age, I see that I still resist many changes, and delay adapting as I cling to past images and old, self-definitions.  This approach is flawed … so my challenge is to examine and address what is needed to release myself from its bondage so that a more “unencumbered” Me emerges and can grow. A ‘Me’ that is walking alongside change rather than trying to slow its cadence.” – Me

 

I currently seem to be at a powerful “tipping point” in my life.  It reflects my recognition that time is quickly passing beneath my feet, and assessment of my life is at hand.  It is not a sense of “emergency” but more a sense of something needing attention … something of great importance.  It is not that I haven’t been giving it attention, but a moment came when a perceivable shift recently occurred and the deep, inner energy connected with my approaching end of life moved me to see my life and revisit my journey in a much different way.  This shift in perception remains underway, and the shift is extraordinary and perceivable.

The catalyst has been me gaining and engaging in the outdoors at an intensity finally reflecting my personal alignment with it.  I am immensely connected to nature … a deep, pantheistic connection that gains more and more clarity with each passing day.  It is a critical piece of the deeper Me, now more openly nourished. One comprising my sense of self which simultaneously feeds my soul.  I draw peaceful, inner balance from it, especially important in our current world of COVID, fires, BLM, and negative politics.   And the result is a slow, fresh revealing of my world … a world now perceived different and far richer than before.

Standing and seeing the world around me is now new, offering a richer and deeper composition of elements that stir emotions deep within me unlike before.  And covering all the swirling changes is this overwhelming sense of peace and joy … a sense that a life has been lived richly and with meaning even with periodic flaws of choice.  A life that can now be lived even more joyfully given the clarity of a new, rich understanding of choices.

Is it a sign from some greater cosmic benefactor … a sign that the “end” may be near?  I am unsure, but I believe it is more like a loudly spoken message that it is time to assess my journey, see the gifts among the distractions, see the keys unlocking greater joy, and commit to a remaining life where more moments are spent in intense joy … joy that touches me deeply where such touches rarely reach.

Yes … a tipping point … a moment when the reality experienced just before now is seen in a totally different way, opening one’s eyes to a new vision of the reality of the moment. It is the walk of maturity, growth, aging, and final reconciliation of the steps comprising a life’s journey.  Steps that are becoming increasingly peaceful as I sense a new understanding of the world unfolding around me and its relationship with me.  Steps that sometimes cause me to trip and fall but are now embraced as I am becoming more accepting of the bruises.  Steps that in themselves, in each moment, must be my remaining life and the place I draw a full measure of feelings from since the promise of more steps is not guaranteed.

Life is a dance with change while adapting to that which is revealed during the dance down an unknown path.  Life is seeking joy and once found, keeping the door open to allow a continued flow of such feelings at every moment possible. And I have now found a door that offers me increased richness of joyful, peaceful feelings … a door which I now will keep open.

Yes, a new door is now open … a new clarity revealed … a new life-formula crafted … a new commitment to the intention formed.  It is an exciting way to move from this past year into the next with excitement and optimism.  Unencumbered!

Beyond purpose …

“It is as if a king had sent you to a country to carry out one special, specific task.  You go to the country and you perform a hundred other tasks, but if you have not performed the task you were sent for, it is as if you have done nothing at all.  So people have come into the world for particular tasks, and that is our purpose.  If we don’t perform it, we will have done nothing. “      -Rumi

 

An interesting thought isn’t it?  It caught me this morning … caused me pause as I enter another day defined by COVID.  A thought arose … “What if all this loss of what once was thought as my purpose, life actions giving me great joy, is the Universe telling me I’ve missed the mark?”  That where I thought I had found that which resonates deep within me is not what I am intended to do.  That I need more work to understand that the joy I felt in “doing” really needs to be felt when sitting doing nothing … it must exist and be felt when nothing occurs … it must be felt from within quiet cells, cells not stimulated through conscious acts.

A close friend’s comments sparked the idea.  Readings of those focused on personal growth have long suggested finding our “purpose” is the end game, the place we all want to head.  They packaged it as “uniquely ours”, tailored to exactly what WE needed to feel our greatest joy.

I smugly thought I had discovered a life that resonated within me … brought me deep, rich feelings of connection and “sense of purpose” on several levels.  Then I suddenly experienced the pain of losing it all to a virus consuming the world.  All that once fed my soul, was gone.  And the sense of loss coupled with the emptiness of confusion enveloped me like standing in a dark room on a moonless night.  It was an act that crippled me emotionally, stripping away beliefs in discovering one’s purpose because once found, it seemed so easy to have it stripped away.  It clearly demonstrated that the model I thought reflected successful attainment of that which we seek in an aware life was fragile and easily broken.  How can something felt to be so true, so reflective of alignment between my soul and my journey during this lifetime, be broken and lost so quickly and easily?

In the swirl, confusion, and emotional pain I now move through I sense that finding one’s purpose is fine, but it is insufficient to living a rich, meaningful life of full connection with one’s soul.  It is not the “end game” but a rest stop along the path into forever.  It “seems” something more must be attained.  Something more permanent that transcends easy loss at the hands of external events.  Something deeper … more profound … more integrated within me.    Something that once found, once connected, exists and sustains regardless of events native to this particular planet.  Something truly apart yet richly connected to my deepest self, my soul.  Once found, something beyond loss.  Something that is felt even when stripped naked before the sun as health and physical existence fall away.

So new thoughts are driving a new quest.  Time and life may alter and change my steps, but I feel that a new path awaits me, one where something beyond purpose exists.  The “how” has not revealed itself but then a journey never is known until taken.  New thoughts … new directions on my compass … new steps in an unknown direction … a walk seeking greater understanding of how my physical and soulful presence might connect with the Universe through some relationship that once found, never can be lost.  Yes, it may be as simple as always returning and spending more time in the “present moment” but I am unsure, and I feel like there is something more profound serving as the key of entry.

Thoughts … reflections … reaction to emotional pain … and more all swirl as I form new thoughts on my relationship with the Universe.

A gift? … certainly!

A quest? … without doubt.

A journey? … likely so.

And what actions I will choose remains a mystery as I examine the choices laid before me on the buffet table of life.  I am indeed entering an interesting place in time and space.  Where will it lead … ???

Crossing into the great potential ….

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride! “ — Hunter S. Thompson

 

The year 2019 recently ended.  The steps I’ve taken on my journey through the year have done the usual … forged change and challenged self-awareness.  Not all has gone smoothly.  Lingering spots needing greater understanding will join me as I cross the boundary into 2020 but overall, I sense more inner peace, feel stronger and more “alive”, and carry with me more joy.

Each day I try to “reset” fears of aging into a genuine embracing of the “adventure of aging gracefully”.  As the Buddhist say, our bodies simply age … it is what our bodies do … but it is how we see and move through it that offers opportunities for joy and growth.  I now joyfully accept each new phase of my life as it is presented … sometimes less successfully than others … but accept them in a spirit of friendship.  I remind myself that life is lived in the moment, and that living life in the future under the shell of fear brings a joyless and uncomfortable life.

And as this 2020 arrives its dawn illuminates a new and quite powerful path I will walk.  My 2019 has prepared me for a new experience that “feels” like a life changer, a life changer I feel called to and seek insight and awareness from.  “Hospice” is this new path’s name and my training in 2019 now prepares me to venture out to help ease the journey being taken by those facing near term death.

This new path lacks clarity because each person’s journey is unique.  It’s this diversity that offers the richness of experience.  Each path I’m granted the honor to travel is significant with each offering the potential to ease another’s journey while sailing in an ocean of emotional richness, connection, and introspection.  Already the feelings from the rich, loving, and emotional training are already intense so I fully anticipate that the experience itself will be even more so.  For me, it will stamp 2020 in bold, loud letters and expand my personal emotional horizons enormously.  Even more, my hope is that whatever I do eases in some way the final journey of another.

So, this year arrives, and I prepare.  Prepare for whatever unfolds.  Prepare for answering a calling.  Prepare for this new, emotional endeavor having an enormous chance to expand my understanding of death and the voyage we each … I … will eventually take.  Service to others while given the gift of insight … yes, a life changer indeed!  And this gift of “opportunity” makes me ever so grateful …

Aging as change not loss …

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”Betty Frieda

 

As I travel my wonderful one-way life journey, I see, hear, feel, and learn.  My journey now takes me through a special path of life, walking the “valley of aging”.  And though I sense many side trips await, its focus seems to be to understand a larger process which many times confuses, frightens, and overwhelms.

Many view aging as an unwanted, greatly feared diminishment.  I certainly began my trek down this path flying that banner.  But time, reflection, and shifting my perspective has brought me to a new place from which to continue each new step along the way.

I no longer see this inevitable journey as one of loss. Though my work continues, an “ah-ha” moment allowed a flip in perspective to occur while this journey continues presenting fresh moments of insight around each corner along the way.  I am now walking a uniquely personal path of change, offering moments reminding me that learning and adapting my personal philosophy and perspective will not end until my physical form transcends into whatever awaits us all.

And though the perspective shift (change vs. loss) is small, it is powerful because it drives the inner feelings created by the thought of growing older.  Embracing “change”, part of a larger natural process, brings peace and a  sense of natural acceptance to circumstances faced daily.  And with such peace and acceptance comes inner calm … calm allowing each day’s moments to be lived in gratitude and greater joy.

Changing into a new me … anticipating with enthusiasm each perceptible alteration.  Applauding the results because it reveals the new me emerging from within.  Embracing and celebrating the change … and walking alongside it as friend not victim.  It is a fresh way … a more joyful cadence of walking the steppingstones of aging.  I hear the clock ticking … and it is a joyful melody …

The wisdom of a tree …

“Returning home is the most difficult part of long-distance hiking; You have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no longer fits.” ―  Cindy Ross

 

I hike.  It unquestionably stands as one of my most “passionate, passions”.  To walk upon the earth, move under my own power, and feel my body carry its weight epitomizes personal empowerment and freedom.  It also is an enabler … a means of moving my mental reflections and its offerings to another level where an actual physical connection occurs.  And when out in nature underway in the moment, I feel no greater joy … no greater peace other than those rare and wonderful moments of intimate connection with another deeply loved human being.

Yes, this simple activity transcends all counter-balancing, negative forces swirling in my world.  It lifts and transports me to some fantasy kingdom where inner peace prevails, and all is in harmonic balance.  It offers me respite from the noise, the noise building up as society and its discord move through the streets of my life.  And on so many levels, the “hike” serves as my temporary savior, and creates a metaphor for living each day … providing me a model which helps me create the feelings I “feel” from the physical me aligning with the spiritual me even when unable to engage in this magical activity … in the “hike”.

And as I hike, I see.  I’m afforded ever-changing windows through which deeper scenes are viewed and deeper insights acquired.  I was granted one such moment on a recent journey … a journey journaled because of the lesson learned.  A moment of insight delivered as I moved through the magical temple of nature.  A deeper awareness revealed to me as a rich metaphor for my life, a life clearly moving through transitions defined by time and the physical changes within me that accompany it. Though often surrounded by forest and trees, I suddenly saw and felt the community of trees around me … the community granting me entry to their space and time.  And with that sense of fresh entry I felt a new understanding emerge.

I saw the “wisdom of a tree”.  I saw how gradually and gracefully a tree matures and shows its years.  How proudly it carries its broken branches, snarly bark, roots that spread … none seen as a diminishment but rather signs of character and wisdom.  I saw the scars of fires that threatened life itself yet were overcome and now simply provide visual contrast that more clearly demonstrate the inner strength to live on. I saw how this citizen of nature proudly displays its true multi-dimensional character as evidence of a life well lived.  A life lived fully and unbounded by artificial constraints or limitations and without expectations.  I saw clearly that before me stands an elder of its tribe carrying the story of its unique journey granted it up to that moment.  And I sensed that not only did it carry the story of its journey, but that in that moment it was fully satisfied … at peace with all that had passed … not having desires or needs for any future.  It was fulfilled … at peace …and simply moving from one moment to the next ready to experience whatever awaits.

That day … during that hike I saw things in a new way.  My heart was opened, and I stood in sacred space where I find my greatest peace.  And I saw … and I thought … Why is it so hard to see the aging of a man in the same fashion?  Why does the “human community” create more of a sense of diminishment rather than graceful evolution towards grandeur.  So, this day offered me a fresh way to see … gave me new windows through which to see myself and my journey.  And I knew there was a valuable lesson here … one that enriches me and softens the footsteps of my remaining journey.

So now I travel in enriched awareness, changed by a moment of insight gifted me by a special community.  A community I visit frequently, either physically or virtually.  A community which offers me rich, powerful, and insightful opportunities to live an increasingly joyful life.  I am such a lucky man to be friends with this community … and so fortunate to receive their blessings and counsel.  Yes, a very lucky man indeed …

Gathering the good …

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.” – Kevyn Aucoin

 

Today is a good day.  A day meant to hear the music of old, inner songs and learn from their lyrics and melodies.  Emotional songs … feelings … not typical music but moments from which I can see into my past, process and move through it, and set old songs aside as life’s journey continues to compose new melodies to hum as I move towards whatever destination is planned by the universe.

Each morning I spend several minutes moving through the news, gathering some sense of the world as they (those outside me) view it and choose to present it to its readers.  And each morning I re-affirm my conviction that the world’s complexity and frequent negativity, and its prevalent mean-spirited behaviors makes me yearn for the peace offered from the trees singing from the wind swirling in high mountain theaters.  That and similar images act as a vaccine against succumbing to the picture presented to thirsty readers.  So much effort … so many sources of fearful energy yet also so many reminders to look at even the smallest “good” that shows itself and applaud it while letting go of the negative.

Much of my working life trained me to be pulled and guided by the negative.  With encouragement from a close friend I now re-frame those patterns into more positive descriptions when doing the same work.  At times, the old patterns still misdirect me, so I constantly work to program my cells to respond in more positive ways.  Training my cells to see a healthier way of reacting … gathering the warmth of kind acts and conditions around me like cuddling inside a soft, warm comforter.  The world will not promote it … so I must create it.  I must discover that which gives emotional warmth then make choices that place me in the room holding it, not the rooms dark and drained of joyful color. I guess it’s my work … I guess it’s what needs to be clarified and processed as each of my days are spent moving towards becoming pure energy.  Thinking … reflecting … feeling … gathering the good … letting go of old patterns … discarding expectations … and forgiving the world around me since I know that everyone is doing the best they can do.  It is indeed a sometimes-confusing journey I am on … but it is the journey.  A journey given me along with the ability to choose … choose to do whatever possible to wrap myself in the healing warmth of my joyful comforter.  So, I learn to embrace it and make it mine … accept missteps and forgive myself … make choices bringing joyful luminescence regardless of the cloudy skies that might gather.  Yes … it is my work, but it is also my choice and the life rhythm I wish to create.   Yes … gather, collect, choose the warmth … and take yet another step … and another … and another …

Searching for the spiritual self …

“The essential lesson I’ve learned in life is to just be yourself. Treasure the magnificent being that you are and recognize first and foremost you’re not here as a human being only. You’re a spiritual being having a human experience.” – Wayne Dyer

 

At times I feel like such an odd creature … a man forever changing and forever sensing new aspects of his day-to-day relationship with his world.  And with each new discovery, my life improves.  Joy flows more freely now than ever before.  Listening to myself … my feelings … and charting their spoken course is now my tool for daily guidance.  And though I embrace such change, and even enthusiastically welcome it, I feel adrift at times … without roots … without ground beneath my feet and lacking a spiritual center or core.

As I continue my journey of maturing and purposeful aging, I sense that my transition becomes more and more a movement towards the spiritual and away from the earthly.  Each step taken seems to create an increasing sense of “shedding” … shedding that which is material and taking on that which is ethereal.  And now I find myself in that dreaded “gray zone” where one more step forward detaches me from the earth beneath my feet while I’ve not yet discovered the new ground upon which to land.

More frequently now … daily or more … I yearn for that spiritual landing place … that place comprising my spiritual home.  That place where attachments disappear, clinging is released, and I simply relish in the moment, totally at peace with accepting what “is” … leaving resistance checked at the door.  The search for joyful feelings found by living in the moment continues and is becoming more intense.  Many routes are being explored, yet the home meant for me remains elusive, so the sense of drift lives on within me.  It churns me … it causes me to feel incomplete … it brings a sense of emptiness. Yet I remain faithful to the belief that my answer still lies ahead and that my feelings will illuminate the way.

So now, in this moment, I continue my quest.  Will I give up … will I give in … will I abandoned my quest because at times the search seems endless?  The answer is No.  The journey itself is rich, plus the potential prize at its terminus offers the possibility of enormously wonderful feelings of completeness and peace.  I will continue my walk … I will be friends with the transitional darkness … I will continue to travel and listen … I will continue to experience and assess … I will remain an explorer and hold myself open to the Universe so that when the winds of discovery finally blow upon me, I will be ready to receive, embrace, and richly feel it.  Like Don Quixote de La Mancha, onward I go …