Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sacred Life Sunday: Indra's Net

It's been an interesting few weeks. It seems the universe is providing me with lots of new opportunities to reconcile the past, become friends with it and make connections with some people, related and not, with whom I have not communicated in 40 years.

At a relative's prompting, I set up a private Facebook account, as private as Facebook can be, that is meant only for old contacts. Relatives and friends left behind in Los Angeles many, many years ago. There are also some cousins I've never met who live on the east coast.

There's a woman I knew in 1967 through 1970. A girl then. We went to high school together. She had it all together. She wasn't overly popular by high school standards. There were three of us who hung out together, an unlikely group. One wanted to be a model. She was tall and blonde and beautiful. The perfect physical type. I was a compulsive, nomadic seeker and it isn't what I wanted to be. It's just what I was - and what I am. I was the hippie. And then there was Carole.

Carole was quiet by nature and that stoicism hid a deep wisdom uncommon for her age. She was always very clear. If I had to sum Carole up in one word, it would be clarity. She stood tall and proud, even during an uneasy adolescence.

I heard from Carole this week. She found me.

She wrote a long newsy letter, filled with accomplishment and ambition. She lives in a lovely, exclusive part of Los Angeles. She is someone for whom achievement clearly matters. On the other hand, that compassion was still present. It was a turn of phrase that let me know. Books she's chosen to read. Seminars she's attended. Her career choice which is in Human Services. Her comment in my yearbook was "never forget that the biggest surprises come in the smallest packages". While I understood the cliche in a superficial way, it took some number of years before I understood what she was saying. She was right on target.

Carole and I have both done human potential seminars. The one we shared the same year but in a different location is est. We both care about the world and the people who inhabit this fragile planet. We both have a quiet nature. We do and did have much in common when you scratch below the surface.

I haven't responded to her letter yet, although I intend to do it soon. I've grappled with myself about how to frame an unusual life at best. I've spent years and years living hand to mouth, gathering up traveling money and taking off to Parts Unknown, hoping to find that One Thing that would make sense of this earthly existence. When I finally made it to Thailand, I knew it was not unfamiliar soil. That's where the compulsive seeking stopped. I was nearly 50 years old.

Everything I own to this day can fit in a 5X5 storage unit. I haven't accumulated things, achievements or people. My life flows. Things come and things go. When I decide to move, I give away huge amounts of accumulated "stuff", then I get more in my new location. People come and people go. It's not that I consider others to be disposable. It's just that I accept at a really root level that people pass through our lives and sometimes moving on is appropriate. My primary achievement is freedom. I don't just want freedom. I need it to exist. It is my oxygen. Anything else would suffocate me. If I didn't die physically, I would die spiritually. The latter is worse than the former in my humble opinion.

These are all things I want to communicate to Carole in a positive way. I no longer find it acceptable to apologize for my life. She hasn't asked that of me but many years of conditioning and culture have led me to believe that it is required. I feel the need to justify my existence for the past 40 years. But this is about me, not her. It's only been the past several months that I've allowed this very judgmental, harsh part of me to surface. When something surfaces that way, it's because it needs to be healed.

So I grapple with some vanity. I want to feel "worthy" of her. I want to feel "equal" to her. And I look at all the ways I don't "measure up".

I can frame this in a way that will accentuate the commonalities between us. I understand Indra's net. We are all connected. We all seek although we might do it in different ways. While our lives might look very different, we share a common bond. We are here. We're all sharing this life experience.

In that context, we can't fail with each other. Carole and I will learn from each other. I will learn from the example of her life and she will learn from the example of mine.

In the end, that's what matters.



Unknown said...

You have embarked on an amazing journey and not an easy one. It is said that when 2 people with a common bound, but are very different in many areas, come together, the rough edges get smoothed. I pray a gentle smoothing in this relationship.

molly said...

So this proves that people come and go throughout our lives, but sometimes the "flow" brings them back around to us! You don't need to apologize to Carole. I'm sure she reconnected with you because you were someone in her life who was real......

Olivia said...

I think you hit the key here when you say that you don't feel equal or worth and that you want to feel that you measure up. I know that you know that you ARE all of these things, you just want to FEEL it. THAT is the part that is coming up, and I think that the coming up is so that it can be healed, I agree. I am excited about this reconnection after so many years, about how you will heal and grow! I am sure that I will grow too from what you learn! Love, O

heartinsanfrancisco said...

You've expressed this so beautifully here, why not send Carole the link to your blog? You are indeed someone to be proud of, and the things you choose to address proclaim your enormous worth as a person and a teacher, and tell who you are far more effectively than preparing a personal curriculum vitae.

Carole sounds like a wonderful person to know, and I have no doubt that you and she still have much in common and also a great deal to teach each other. It's a beautiful thing to find an old friend who becomes a new one, too.

secret agent woman said...

Someone posessing an abundance of clarity will not view you in terms of whether or not you are "worthy" based on your life choices or posessions. You are worthy as yourself, which is clear to her already.

Leann said...

As I'm sure you are aware we each have our own path, our own lessons to learn. There can never be any apologies necessary for that. We are through we are.

That being said, I totally understand what you are saying and often times, heck, more often than not, I feel the very same way.

Anvilcloud said...

If she's not shallow, she will accept you and your journey for what it is.

painted maypole said...

oh. i think carole will be so interested in what you've learned and experienced.