I have another book that I need to recommend. My friend Polly gave it to me on my birthday a year ago and then recently, another friend mentioned it to me. The book is “Broken Open” by Elizabeth Lesser, who is one of the founders of The Omega Institute in upstate New York. I have never been there, but many friends have and they offer amazing workshops with great people, including my favorite, Pema Chodron.
The first quote that starts the book is by Anais Nin, whose work I read in my twenties. I don’t remember much about her journals, except that I was obsessed with reading them. Here is the quote, “And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Another great quote, from Rumi: “When you do something from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy…” And one more from Rumi: “Learn the alchemy true human beings know. The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given, the door will open.”
And the paragraph Lesser read when she was very young that she says changed her life:
“Going beyond fear begins when we examine our fear: our anxiety, nervousness, concern, and restlessness. If we look into our fear, if we look beneath the veneer, the first thing we find is sadness, beneath the nervousness. Nervousness is cranking up, vibrating all the time. When we slow down, when we relax with our fear, we find sadness, which is calm and gentle. Sadness hits you in your heart, and your body produces a tear. Before you cry, there is a feeling in your chest, and then, after that, you produce tears in your eyes. You are about to produce a rain or a waterfall in your eyes and you feel sad and lonely and perhaps romantic at the same time. That is the first tip of fearlessness, and the first sign of real warriorship. You might think that, when you experience fearlessness, you will hear the opening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or see a great explosion in the sky, but it doesn’t happen that way. Discovering fearlessness comes from working with the softness of the human heart.”
“Shambhala: The Sacret Path of the Warrior,” by Chogram Trungpa, a Tibetan Buddhist.
Another quote, this one from Wavy Gravy, “We’re all Bozos on the bus, so we might as well enjoy the ride.” I love that quote. When I was young, I often listened to “The Secret of Life” by James Taylor. “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. There ain’t nothing to it, any fool can do it…”
And finally, a terrific quote by Joseph Cambell: “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive…so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
This past week has been challenging for me, but in a good way. There have been tears and I’ve encountered a great deal of fear. But I’ve also sat with it and let it move through me. I’ve also received so much help and support and I am deeply grateful for these friends who show up for me. Meditation has also helped. And I guess the best part of it all, is as difficult as it feels sometimes, I know I’m alive.