from Danny (photos taken from a hike with Danny’s parents and nephew in the Cajas Mountains outside Cuenca, Ecuador)
I’ve said this: “The Message is Greater Than We Are”, over and over, nearly every time we’ve had an opportunity to address a group. And if ever I haven’t said it, I meant to. Really, truly, deeply, I meant it, and mean it still.
This blog is dedicated to a universal message, and to its application to all people, in every circumstance. If ever someone has found healing and peace, my guess is it has come because similar principles to what we advocate on this blog have been applied in the life of that person, in that moment. I’ve had enough personal experience, read enough books on the subject, had enough one-on-one conversations, and received enough emails to know this is true, and that it crosses all kinds of bridges you would not have thought crossable. Healing and happiness always seems to come in alignment with a few simple principles.
We are not the authors or originators of this message. It is as old as the first person who felt peace in the face of loss, who decided to forgive someone who betrayed or offended them, who decided not to be defined by a life circumstance, a disability, a personal failure, or the actions/behavior of another person.
Though we are not the originators of the message, we CELEBRATE IT and we do our best to advocate it, and will as long as we are able. I understand that due to the very personal nature of blogging, it will seem like the focus is on us. But it isn’t. It is about how these universal principles have brought peace not just TO the most difficult moments of our lives, but IN the most difficult moments of our lives. It continues to bring peace to our lives, as often as we dig deep enough to apply it.
But we are human and don’t always find the strength, we don’t always live aware of the rut we can all dig for ourselves. And even when we are aware, we don’t always find the will power or grace to apply the principles that have worked for us EVERY TIME we’ve done the work in the past. And it is work, make no mistake about it. It is the work of surrender, and it requires laying on the altar all the things you’ve been told are so important to happiness, and digging deeper and deeper to discover the true foundations of happiness. It takes work to stop looking “lo here” or “lo there”, always outside ourselves, in order to discover that “the Kingdom of God is within you.” That quote applies no matter what religion you believe in, or whether you believe in God at all.
It is work because it requires laying aside your jealousies, anger, hatred, envying, comparing, and bitterness. It requires laying aside the desire to say “if only my life were like this, or my spouse were like that, or if my parents treated me in this way, or if I had this much money or that much free time.” It requires breaking into pieces the illusion that happiness and peace and wellness in life are made up of the right set of circumstances, the perfect job, great physical health or beauty, and fulfilling relationships….which of course is the last thing our ego wants to do because it means we have to get to work on the only thing that can affect our happiness…..us. Us and what goes on in the narrow confines of our hearts and our minds.
But that isn’t what we focus on.
Infertility may no longer be a deep struggle for either of us, but knowing how to handle this current stage of uncertainty is something that we have not fully figured out. And once we figure out how to apply the same principles more perfectly to this present moment, there will be a future moment where we may get stuck again. And yet, the principles behind healing from infertility are the same principles behind approaching this current uncertainty and finding healing and peace, and they are the same principles that will need to be applied to whatever it is that lies ahead.
Go back and read those love letters Mara and I exchanged that we’ve posted on the blog. Unlike this blog, those were written by two people with no idea that they would be read by anyone else accept the recipient. The main reason we posted them is because they were written by two people who didn’t have “a great life” by observable standards most people would look to. Most of the things we thought were important to happiness had by that time failed us in some way, and there was not yet some kind of “fairy tale” ending that you could say was the reason happiness exuded from either one of us. And yet, that is what you see in those emails and love letters. Happiness. Happiness that came in spite of circumstances, in spite of failed relationships. Happiness despite the fact that we still didn’t know how this new love would turn out. Happiness in nearly every word and every exchange. Happiness was not something we experienced because we found each other, it is something we individually brought to each other.
If you can’t relate to the two people who only appear by virtue of comparison to have everything working in their favor, then go back and relate to the same two people 6 years ago who had nothing working out, and yet would tell you the same story and focus on the same tools and would insist that if they’ve experienced it in their darkest moments, so can you! (Or better yet, go read all of the authors I linked to above, and relate to them.)
I hope nowhere on this blog is it implied that Mara and I ALWAYS use the tools that lead to greater peace and happiness in life. It might be easy to read into our words something like that, but that is because we choose to celebrate the tools and the message that leads to happiness. That is what we focus on, and it is the focus of this blog. Don’t let that focus trick you into thinking we succeed at it every moment of every day. That is not our intent, nor should it be your takeaway.
What I do hope is consistent on this blog, is that if ever we find happiness, it is always found by applying certain tools that seem to work whether we are facing a break in blogging and a question of what’s next, infertility and failed IVFs, divorce, getting lost while traveling, losing sentimental and valuable items, or whatever else life throws at us. Tools that are available to EVERYONE. They are the same tools friends of mine have applied successfully to child abuse, neglectful or abusive spouses, infidelity, children who struggle and stray far from a safe or desirable path, death of loved ones, loss of jobs, poverty, misunderstanding, judgmental parents, serious physical disabilities, abandonment, friends who betray, etc….the list could go on and on and on. But it doesn’t need to.
The only question is will each of us decide to apply these tools to whatever it is that we are facing individually? Will we decide to quit comparing, will we recognize more quickly those moments when we are focused on circumstance or behavior (as happens to us ALL), and will we re-enter more deliberately the state of being that always accompanies peace and happiness?
Perhaps we can take courage and wisdom from the words of the Roman Emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius: “Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also.”
I hope no one will compare themselves to us. I certainly don’t seek to compare myself with those who have inspired me. Or if I do, the only way I compare is “What tools were they applying that I have not yet grasped or understood? And how can I learn from them and move forward in greater confidence and love?”
May you all move forward in greater confidence and love. May you never confuse the imperfect lives of people dedicated to a message with the beauty and power of the actual message itself. May you truly experience happiness, right where you are, in the moment you are in, with all of its existing circumstances. May you discover the power that is already part of you.
P.S. – I linked to a lot of my favorite posts, and a lot of my favorite books. If you don’t feel like you have a grasp on some of those universal principles that all healing is based upon, I hope you’ll follow each link, buy some books, and do some contemplating and start practicing these things for yourself.