Friday, October 17, 2008

Hopes and Dreams

girls 60 celebrate
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
On Friday, four friends and I head to the South Carolina beach for a long weekend.
Ostensibly, we’re celebrating the 50th birthday of the youngest of our crew.
Here’s a snap from an earlier 60th celebration. (You get the idea.)

One of us reads the New Yorker regularly and so could describe this cartoon:
There’s a fellow sitting in his doctor’s office.
The doctor says, “Well, I can fix your back so it won’t hurt anymore. But, I can’t guarantee that you’ll have anything left to talk about.”

Ah, point well taken.
Luckily, we have a tradition that for years has helped shaped our discussions.
Once comfortably fed and settled in, one by one each is asked to describe her hopes and dreams for the coming year. And each must field all the questions. Not a corner is left to hide. Your turn can last a long time. Kleenex can be involved.

I used to love this exercise. To be heard, to be understood. To be loved.
But, I find it’s getting harder and harder to participate.
I have no idea of what to say. And even worse, the next day I can only hold my head and moan, “My god, why did I say that!”

As far as inner transformation is concerned, there is nothing you can do about it.
You cannot transform yourself, and you certainly cannot transform your partner or anybody else.
All you can do is create a space for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter.
Eckhart Tolle

For a life-long, self-identified “seeker” – doing seeking – working on transforming and evolving… this is devastating news. And I’m really beginning to realize that it’s true.
Still, I keep on trying.
I’m like some guy crawling cross the dessert on his belly. I keep trying the next spiritual transformation.
I know I can’t make that final shift in consciousness for which my heart so deeply longs. But dang, I keep on trying.
Futility. Stupidity. Ego.
What is this, if not Hope?

Hope is what keeps you going, but hope keeps you focused on the future,
and this continued focus perpetuates your denial of the NOW
and therefore your unhappiness.
Forget about your life situation for awhile and pay attention to your life.
Your life situation exists in time. Your life is NOW.
Your life situation is Mind-Stuff. Your life is REAL.
Eckhart Tolle

More and more, I realize I am compelled by a primitive, irresistible force within me.
Maybe, that is actually Grace. But, I struggle too much to use that word voluntarily.

And so I get so grouchy, thinking about us sitting round the table or before the fire.
I get all irritated and frustrated, and cannot think it through with any clarity.
Hopes and dreams! Oh, pah!
Fruitless, pointless, mocking. I do not want to do this! And I’m going to tell them!…

All inner resistance is experienced as negativity in one form or another.
All negativity is resistance…
Negativity ranges from irritation or impatience to fierce anger, from a depressed mood or sullen resentment to suicidal despair…

Ah, gotcha once again. And Tolle proceeds to say:

Once you have identified with some form of negativity, you do not want to let it go, and on a deeply unconscious level, you do not want positive change.
It would threaten your identity…
You will then ignore, deny or sabotage the positive in your life.
This is a common phenomenon.
It is also insane.

Yes. I know it’s true.
Have you noticed? It’s very interesting.
I can feel how getting all stirred up, even down right suffering, has this hidden edge of pleasure.
Anger allows me feel my power.
Drama helps me get my point across.
Suffering brings me sympathy.

But, if I don’t call a spade a spade at least within my own head – where can I start being truly honest.
And I do value honesty. And truth.

So, so much for Hope.
Let’s move on to Dreams.

Years ago, this weekend’s Birthday Girl told me that I had the densest pain body of anyone she knew.
Speaking of such people Eckhardt Tolle says:

…your desire to awaken, to finally get out of this misery is much greater than a normal person's desire to awaken. …[for] when your dream turns into a nightmare, then you really want to awaken from that…

My desire to awaken is certainly more than normal.
But, I’d not say life is anywhere near nightmare status these days. There is just that primitive force at work deep inside me. And, I’d like to think that that is Grace.
But the fact remains that I am definitely in resistance to this whole “Hopes and Dreams” format. I do not want to look.

So, three dear friends get to spend six hours in the car with me come Friday. I hope I’ll be on better behavior.
And I’m going down there “unrehearsed.”
Luckily, we have promised not to discuss anything real juicy on the drive down.
We’re pledged to wait until we’re all together.

And I figured we will need a good two days simply to be debriefed on Marv, the man of Linda’s dreams – or not. We will have to see.
And maybe, I’ll print this out and read it as a manifesto. (It will not stop their probing, nor get me off the hook. But, it may divert attention.)

Meanwhile, I plan to take my camera and tripod. That should keep me focused on something like the Now.
That’s my plan… not my hope… not my dream.
It’s a plan.


gill said...

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

From 'The Four Quartets - East Coker' by T.S. Eliot

Pat Bralley said...

That's nice. Thank you for writing.

Augustin said...

I love you, Patty.

Pat Bralley said...

Turns out we didn't do hopes and dreams - that's suppose to be New Year's eve. But we did discuss who's in our tribe.

Aug - you're in mine! I love you too! But, what you doing reading this old woman's site?

Buddha said...

You had lunch and diner yesterday, hwy do you keep on eating? Spirituality is the food for our soul. Enlightenment is not a trophy to attain but an experience. And yes we get comfortable with our old shoes and have a hard time changing. The older I get the more I resent change, the more change happens...
You are doing fine. You just need some TLC. Now go back to your life!
Be loved!

Sinneke said...

Dear Patricia,
Lately, i'm also very into E.T., as we like to call him :).
Thank u so much, for sharing your experiences in such an open hearted way. It is so beautiful and valuable.


Pat Bralley said...

Thanks, Senneke.
I've had such trouble writing much since posting this. It's nice to get the feedback.

I like your blog and you've found good links!

I appreciate you're writing.