Good God! What a year, what a lifetime. In so many ways I’ve been incredibly blessed throughout. Trouble in the Middle East and what feels at times like a narrow escape out of it. Surviving my dysfunctional family of origin with reasonable wit, occasional depression, and believe-it-or-not optimism (which at times seems like a friggin curse!) A dozen moves in childhood that left me feeling nestless!
Fast Forward To Now
So here we are, here I am, entering 2023 with a bang or a whimper. I can’t decide what mood to settle on, instead lurching uncontrollably back and forth between the two states.
I won’t lie; I could but what would be the point?! I’ve always been too transparent even to myself. I’ve had a hard road these last few years with health issues, surgeries, occasional “ah ha” moments followed by self-doubt and dare-I-say again, optimism! At heart, I am a forager for the puzzle. And the lesson!
Why won’t it leave me alone; that pesky perverted instinct or drive to unmortify things, look for the lessons regardless of emotional states I inhabit, contained within an insatiable hunger to learn? I insist on looking for what I need to know. If I can’t find it initially, I wait (sometimes patiently, sometimes not.) Occasionally, I make it up, inventing a lesson, however small, until a greater insight arrives. I’m just that restless, driven.
What on earth do other people do with their heads if not trying to figure out what things are for, from personal and world events to good and bad people, triumphs or tragedies alike? What their meaning is to them subjectively or not, that deeper meaning? Growth is everything, why else would we be here?
Everybody Loves Raymond
I’ve been mainlining Everybody Loves Raymond recently for comic relief; you know, that sitcom of years ago that replays on one of the streaming channels. There’s so much wisdom besides insatiable humor, in most of the episodes. One I recently saw had the little girl Ally asking her dad (Raymond) why does God send us to earth? Why do we come here? Let that hang in the air for a second.
Of course Raymond, being the perpetually struggling simpleton that he is, actually has the most amazing and uncanny ways of learning himself, whether it’s through his wife, Deborah, or flat out events that demand he address issues in some way by their very existence, all by himself like a big boy. It seems he’s helpless on his own, but with the help of others (ding, ding, ding) including his family, which is dysfunctional as any in America, serves as the grist for helping him along to new insights, one way or the other.
When he goes to Deborah, the insight seems simple but profound. She tells him God just wants us to be with other people, to not be alone. Implied in that of course is the very earth school that is serving Raymond through Deborah in the whole crazy clan of his family. The metaphor is apt in the comedy and also apt for everyone’s individual life contained therein, subtle and obvious both.
All In This Together
Everything I see in the world around me is about growth, death, regeneration, and furthering more growth (evolution perhaps??) but all from learning some nugget, a component atom in the larger molecular structure of the small and big Self and the community it lives in. From a plant as a simple expression to holocaust survivors or the war in Ukraine; from the bottom of the food chain to the top. But always, always within the context of others.
My Own Classroom
Having been blessed to know a Survivor, and write about his life, Bennet mirrored that from his experience. One of my favorite speakers is Esther Perel. Both of her parents survived the Holocaust, which, of course was only but brilliantly the ginormous earth curriculum that they “grew up out of.”
Perel describes other survivor friends of her parents, after creating new lives post-liberation, chatting about their concentration camp experience minus the drama of the tragedy but within its milieu. Instead, their intuition was to glean their own sustenance from it to forge new individual selves, transcending it, knowing somehow, some way they are greater than the sum of its parts, as a tribe which by definition includes “together.”
An Uncanny Therapy
In the very act of asking one another things like ‘whatever happened to so-and-so’ from camp ‘such-and-such’, their experiences become unmortified from the larger tragedy itself. While their experiences were gigantically large, I have my own Rosalie lessons as paltry as they seem in comparison, but included in an environment of people parts (as well as body parts.)
Fast Forward the Physical
My body challenges have surely demanded I pay attention to and learn what I need to know to grow emotionally, psychologically, but especially spiritually. It is my curriculum if you will, but too often have resisted. How many times have I spouted this little mantra while actually living from that belief and heavy identification of mySelf as “the body,” and therefore separate from others. My belief in “others as teachers” is heavily challenged.
For whatever reason, I am faced with more bodily breakdown, decay and surgeries, and cannot help but intuit this remains an opportunity for learning something I need to see but have heretofore denied.
The Excitement of the Drama
It doesn’t need to be so hard, but we—I— insist on having tragedy even in the face of incredible gifts, because we—I—misunderstand the purpose and value of things including tragedy. Tragedy as well as comedy is a learning device. Just ask Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy can surely attest to. It (the war) may be couched in an oversized drama, but his drive to transcend it is clear, palpable. It is preceded by comedy, his earlier life’s work, but for whatever reason, a different “energy field” of tragedy has been required for him.
And so in an odd way, like Ally, Raymond, Zelenskyy, Holocaust survivors—pick a category—my seeming tragedy of yet more body breakdown is no tragedy at all. Nor is it a comedy either. It simply serves as a learning device, a vehicle for communication. Instead, it strikes me as I am greater than the sum of any of my individualized body parts. If I believe I am spirit as the real me—I must view “me” through the whole of those folks I know and love…and sometimes even those I don’t. Whenever I ultimately do leave the planet, I’m not hauling this body thing along with me. Rather, I will be in a field of spirit—not woo woo, mind you—but from that field of love which is the only true “me” there can be.