It is the new year, 2012, and many of us have made resolutions and promises to ourselves in hopes to make this year better than the last. We set weight loss goals and money management goals, and we hope that the small things we have added or taken away from our new lives in the new year help us get closer to our happy; our optimum selves. Of course by mid-February most people have abandoned those New Years resolutions and have settled back into the old ways of yesteryear that feel more comfortable than a pair of worn in blue jeans. It just was not happening fast enough. It was not coming quick enough and even given the sacrifice the difference was not great enough to warrant any further self-deprivation.
But wait…last December were we not absolutely positive, without a shadow of a doubt that having more of this and less of that would ensure us a chance to dance in the sunshine that is joy? That if we just lost that one bad friend, good friendships would come our way…that if we just lost 15lbs we would feel better about ourselves…that if we had 1000 more dollars in the bank we would feel more accomplished and successful…the list could go on and on. But the truth is, that until we are happy right where we are (with what we have) nothing that we gain or lose is going to get us any closer to joy. How novel it would be if one thing or even a recipe of things could lead to satiation–supreme contentment.
In a letter to Oprah, Marianne Williamson wrote: “Until you accept the magnitude of your function, your unconscious mind will sabotage any attempt to show your full magnificence. In fact, if you diet and lose weight, your mind will either put the weight back on or trip up in some other area. In order to lose weight on a permanent basis, you want a shift in your belief about who and what you are. This is the miracle you seek.” But this is not just about losing weight, it is about anything or being we feel is going to push us from unhappy to its opposite. We find so much frustration because our expectations far surpassed that of our realities. We put all our eggs in one basket and then when it never comes we feel this an array of emotions: discouragement at having tried, incompetence at having failed, and anger at having disappointed ourselves. How foolish we ever were to wait for superman?
The thing is, we have to be our own superheroes. We have to accept that the only person capable of saving us IS us. Some may argue that that savior may be the savior in the spiritual sense and I do not entirely disagree; I simply believe that He exists in all of us and that our divine selves will be the ones that carries us through turmoil into triumph. There is no need, then, to wait because I am always with me. My growing impatient, my frustration, my anger, my incompetence comes from my thinking that happiness looks like _______. When I rely on internal guidance and listen to my inner being the need to have more or less dissipates and I become enough, I have enough. As Marianne so eloquently stated, until I see the magnitude of my function, meaning until I accept that I am much more than my weight, my clothes, my bank account, my car, my house, etc. I will continually be disappointed. It will never be enough. And so my new years resolution has become simply this:
I resolve to become more intimate with God (and specifically the God that dwells within me). From that the rest will take care of itself.
Maybe two years ago or so I first heard the saying, “What you chase like a thief will run like one.” Since hearing it, I promise you it has haunted me. In a good, and frustrating, way. Two nights ago a friend of mine suggested that I watch the movie The Secret which is more like a documentary based on the book of the same name. The premise is there is a secret that has been shared among the great figures in history, the aristocracy, and the successful and that secret is the law of attraction. You need to attract what you want and the universe will supply it. Sounds too simple, right? Well little did I know I have been semi living this way for a couple of years (remember ‘if you live like you’re starving you’ll always be hungry?’ same premise). The theory is that we get more of what we put out. You may be thinking “i want to be out of debt” but really your thoughts are just consumed with debt, and so you get more of it. So we must change our thoughts.
That made me think of Liz Gilbert and Eat Pray Love who undoubtedly knows the secret, whether she was aware of it or not. In the book she made a petition to the universe and at first she was skeptical of her right to even do so, but she had a friend who told her “You are part of this universe, Liz. You’re a constituent–you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So, put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me–it will at least be taken into consideration.” And so she did. As have I, twice before and once again recently. Then the documentary goes on to say that we will not get what we want until we can be appreciative of what we have. Again, deja vu as just a 2 months ago I wrote these words:
Oprah was interviewing Maya Angelou and she said, “I had called you crying over something I don’t even remember what anymore but you told me in that moment to stop and say, ‘Thank You,’ say Thank you.” And Maya interjected and said, “yes we must always say thank you because we must let it be known that our faith is unshakeable.“So I sat in my complete agony, uncomfortable and crying, praying and just waiting. I wrote a note to my best friend’s mom and I ended by admitting I didn’t know exactly what I was asking for in my note. I couldn’t shake Maya’s advice…to say thank you. So I sat until I could find something to be thankful for…I came up with the following offering to God
Thank you for giving me a platform. Thank you for giving me strength over my vices. Thank you for the insight to know that this is conquerable.
Then I stopped crying. I got out of the ball I was laying in. I got up and stretched and I felt like so much of the weight had been lifted. Nothing had been solved, no, but sitting in my mudpile and saying Thank You. That was foreign…foreign and effective. Maybe I’ll add to my personal mission statement a note to give thanks, even in adversity.
Gratitude. For all that we have been given, for the clear sight to see that what we have is plenty. Gratitude to dull the ache of starvation we have for things to in the end, really don’t matter as we have been getting along just fine without them. Gratitude for a God/Universe that has blessed us abundantly over and over again. When you sit in that place and you marvel at how wonderful life is, and are filled with thanks that is when things begin to happen. Ask. Believe. Receive. That’s what The Secret suggests we do. Then be thankful as if our blessings have already come into fruition because they have. On August 15, 2010 I wrote the following notes from church:
- Earth is (3) Firmament is (2) Heaven is (1)
- All needs have been supplemented but in heaven. It is not faith that creates fulfillment, but faith that moves the invisible to visible. If you need it in (3) He will release it in (1).
- So why do some prayers go “unanswered”
- (See Mark 11:24 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.)
- The moment you asked for it, God gave it to you. If you have not received it, it is caught in (2).
- Change your voice, SHOUT at the enemy so that your potential be let loose. If you are poor, ask God for wealth (not to not be poor), and He will give it to you, SHOUT to satan that your blessing not be held up in the firmament.
- Do not yell at God, do not be angry at God, SHOUT at the enemy. Change the direction of your voice to change the direction of your life.
Some of us have to learn things the hard way. Some of us choose to silently struggle because the alternative (opening our mouths, humbling our spirits, and revealing a vulnerability) is not at all appealing. How long have you allowed yourself to struggle before you broke down and asked for help?
That old adage “a closed mouth doesn’t get fed,” has been swarming in my mind all year. Why is it, I’ve wondered, that we find it so incredibly difficult to ask for help? We beg, plead, and pray for good friends, loving family, a strong support system and then what do we do with them? Give them front row seats to our one-man suffering show? Why do we have these people in our lives if we do not trust them enough to allow them to help us when we need it?
To take it one step further, do you ever wonder how often someone has had access to the thing you crave, but you missed out on it due to your silence. I hear about job openings all the time because of my current position, and so I tell friends or family about the jobs and let them make the decision to apply or not. There was on friend of mine who needed a job but did not speak up and let anyone know she was unemployed. She was starting to get behind on bills, constantly anxious about not getting interviews and depleting her savings to pay rent. When she finally opened up and revealed her position I was so frustrated because she knows I could have been helping her all along. Why are we so content to get passed over?
We’re running from our own blessings because we are clinging to pride. Clinging to this idea that we need to do things for ourselves by ourselves (where did this come from?!). As for help, and similarly, be of help. It gives me solace to know that sometimes I will need things from my friends, but other times they will need me and I will gladly help them in any way that I can.
If, in fact, karma is one of the highest universal powers then make it your business to incur as much good karma as you can by doing good deeds. Do not get passed over for your blessing being overly concerned about things that do not matter. I know sometimes we have the ability to help someone who we may personally deem undeserving of our help. Do it anyway. Do it because what you do unto others has already been done unto you and you’re in the position to make things better. You can’t pay it back, so pay it forward.
Life, if I had to reduce it to one word one principle one virtue, is about service. Sometimes you are the servant and sometimes you are the recipient of service, but the cycle is continuous and never ending. That flow of retribution is why, perhaps, every great world religion is rooted in doing good unto others, loving one another as we seek to be loved, and the overall agreement that what we give is what we receive in return. Karma, justice, Tao, however we label it, the energy that flows between us and our fellow citizens of the world is all service.
We have all, at some point in our lives, received favor; be it a job recommendation, a letter of reference, an opportunity for advancement in our careers, or even simply a shoulder during times of despair. During those times we feel grateful that for whatever inexplicable reason, the universe has conspired on our behalf to improve our circumstance. It is in the instances when it is impossible to pay back our favor that we must pay it forward, creating an opportunity for others who may be in need just as we once were.
Personally… I long ago, I fell in love with service. I fell for being a vessel for good. I fell for inspiring change in people, hence my career. Professionally I have chosen to work with children on the cusp of adulthood, those ages 18-24 in a college or university setting. This, however, leaves me partially unfulfilled. You see because long ago I fell in love with myself, the black woman. Everything about me, my skin, my hair, my heritage, even the bad things-because I love to serve crow-is magnificent. And, there’s nothing that fulfills me than seeing a black woman realize her potential. Hence my service work. I work with adolescent girls as a mentor and have in many different capacities since high school. This is my giving back, which I think is important for any professional-we must invest in the youth. Much in the same way this blog is my giving back to my community, I hope that my readers find their own vessel for service.
They say that hindsight is 20/20. I tend to agree with that, because I can look at where I am today, and name twenty hardships that directly contributed to my capacity to handle the things currently going on in my life. Being self-aware lets me see very clearly when someone else may be headed down a path that I was also tempted by, and if I can be a source of support for that person, I feel a very strong pull to do so. In the same breath, there are others older than I who feel the same way towards me, and I have to humble myself enough to continually accept their support and be grateful for their guidance. I am beginning to prefer slow deliberate thinking rather than bullishly learning things the hard way. A lesson learned by 27 years of wreckless happenstance.
What did I give today? Making the day less about me and my needs, and about how I can contribute back to my community, my country, my generation, and my global network. What do I have to offer the world? It is important to know the answer to that question, to know your skills, talents, and strengths and to know how they benefit us all. The universe is self-sufficient. The universe will take care of its own (you, me, everything). Just as your stomach growls when you are hungry, the universe will speak to you when it needs something. We are all supposed to be great. Not for our own personal gain, but for the gain of the collective; the greater good. This is why we serve. This is why it all boils down to service. This is why service, is simply the act of love.
Borrowed words from the beautifully talented Jill Scott
Clearly I am not a fat ass
I am active brain
and lip smacking peach deep
sometimes too aggressive in its honesty
and heart sweet
that loves whole-ly and completely
whom it may choose
whom ever it may choose
I am not gonna lie and passify
I am arms to hold
I am lips to speak
I am a muthafucking “G”
Strong legs that stroll off the 33 bus
or out of a money green Phantom confortably
Knees that bend to pray
clean from Ajax washings
hair that is thick and soft
Thigh that be-twixt
an amazing all expense grand prize
I am eyes that sing
smile that brightens
touch that rings
and supply euphoric release
I am a Grand Dame Queen Beast
I am warm
I am peace
From the roads of Botswana to 23rd Street
From the inside third eye
ever watching this wicked wicked system of things
I do see
I am friend to pen
and a lover of strong women
A Diamond to men
I am curious and interested like children
I welcome the wise to teach
appreciator of my culture
Thick not just from bone dense and eat
I have a rhythm in my ways
and a practice in my seek
and yes I do crave the rhythm of my space
with a man that rejoyces in God’s Grace
with faith I do hear to listen
two hands that fist
when forced pushes to shove
and your ego won’t submit
I am gifted
I am all of this
and indeed the Shit
Clearly I am not just an ass
Last night I was struck with a bit of insomnia. I was up and reading poetry, browsing through blogs and the sort which lead me to a guest post by Tamala Baldwin on Peace Love and Pretty Things. Here is an excerpt of her post:
I came across a motivational video featuring Will Smith, and he said, when you are trying to build a wall, you don’t focus on the wall. You focus on laying one brick at a time, perfectly. So in times of doubt, fear and negative thinking, I stop thinking about the overall picture – the big impact – and hone in on laying my own brick for the day perfectly (source).
I loved how much of an open book Tamala was and contacted her immediately via various social media outlets, and we have been chatting back and forth. Our conversations reminded me of the purpose of this blog, as well as part of the purpose of my life. Being an open book is how I’ve been able to meet so many amazing people, learning so many priceless lessons, and get through the past few years. Why are so many people afraid of sharing their stories?
I sit and think about how many people I know both personally and professionally who have been going through things that they never told anyone about until they were about to break. By then its overwhelming and all you have is tear soaked pillows, restless nights, either insatiable or nonexistent hunger, and you feel close to surrendering to the misery of the world. I just wish people spoke up before it got to that point. I wish more people saw the power in truth, in saying it OUT LOUD to those around them and not being saddled by guilt, or shame. I wish more people understood their purpose is not solely for themselves, the universe is patiently waiting for you to catch fire, and to spark a fire in others; you cannot do that as an island.