Affirmation is difficult. We always affirm with conditions.
I affirm the world on condition that it gets to be the way Santa Claus told me it ought to be.
But affirming it the way it is — that's the hard thing, and that is what rituals are about.
Joseph Campbell, Power of Myth
It's been an eventful month in my life...and it's only September twelfth. Then again, there's a series of eclipses starting tomorrow as well as the autumnal equinox sandwiched in-between, so I'm fairly certain that the unseen, yet deeply felt shifts in the seasons will bring even more changes. That's alright with me. It's been a bittersweet summer, although there's been time to sit and sift through life as it has been -- not as I had wanted it to be. But what else is new? Not much in my life goes as I plan it anyway...and I completely understand that's by Divine design.
Now that the construction is complete, my neighborhood is consistently peaceful. What I had wanted all during May, June, July, and August is much sweeter now that cooler weather is upon us. To be serenaded in the garden by chirping crickets and to feel the soft, gentle early autumn breeze while I tend to the flowers and vegetables makes me that much more appreciative of what I used to take for granted in seasons past. To be able to sit next to an open window while I write this blog and hear nothing but the soft hum of a neighbor's lawn mower is heavenly...and that's not something I'd even consider last spring. The reality of what is now can't compare to the way I thought things ought to be this past summer.
It's even better.
Still, everywhere I go these days there are realities with which I'm not all that comfortable. The news unwinds a never-ending stream of negativity that only seems to be getting worse. I often scratch my head at the choices people make....and the ones they don't. It's not that I think they should live their lives like I do. It's just that I've come to fully realize that while one can avoid reality, one can't avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.
Eventually karma catches up to us all.
Which is why I'm really taking stock this month. Looking at the reality of my financial situation. The state of my relationships. The way in which I work. The choices I've been unconsciously making and bringing them into light to see if they're still working for me...or not. Truth is there's not much I'd change. Actually, after this morning, there's nothing in my life I'd change right now, for by accepting things as they are, I'm truly able to be in the present moment.
And that's where the power is...always.
Since I started meditating in my late twenties, I've often used positive affirmations. It's taken a while to let go of the need for what Joseph Campbell calls looking at reality "the way Santa Claus told me it ought to be". I truly believed that if I repeated it enough, if I believed hard enough, if I set my intentions clearly, then I could have whatever I wanted. Over time I let go of the when it would happen, but not always the if, for I had to remind myself over and over again about the simple, yet profound prayer I offered up in 1994: Please God, don't let me settle for what my ego wants.
And believe me, that's one prayer the Divine has clearly answered.
Over and over again.
I didn't get much of what I wanted when I was younger...but in looking back, I received everything I needed. Even now, I recognize the fact that my priorities were still a bit skewed until this past spring when a clearer reality set in and my heart opened up to what I was experiencing in the present moment. What a surprise to learn that the reality of what I was being given was better than anything I could have imagined...and it arrived in my life when I wasn't looking, when my ego couldn't judge it or think it should be something else altogether for grace took over and said, "You've been avoiding this your whole life...now look at what I've brought you."
Like I said...karma finds us all after a while...and sometimes it's a pretty incredible experience.
Recently I read an article about how some people think their opinions are fact; the way they see things is the way things truly are. But that's a slippery slope at best, for most people see the world as they are not as the world truly is. Others complain mightily about the way things ought to be, no matter if their opinions are riddled with caustic jargon, projection, or distortions of the truth.
While I'm a pacifist at heart, I take action when I can be the change I want to see in the world. I write letters to congressmen and women and express my concern about equal rights. I call City Hall to talk about the not-so-savory changes in my neighborhood. I recycle and reduce waste. I grow my own food. I take care of the bees in my own back yard...and mind my own beeswax, too. For I know that the way others live their lives is their business, not mine...even though I have to live with the reality of their choices. Still I realize they're affected by my choices as well, for we're all creating this grand design together...hand in hand along with unseen dynamics which will be revealed in time.
Every day I practice a personal ritual in which I strive to accept the world as it is...not the way I want it to be. Only then can I recognize the things I can change, the things I cannot, and grow into the wisdom to distinguish the difference between them. Only then can I find some semblance of acceptance.
Only then can I find some peace in not knowing all the answers...but in being able to accept what is with grace.