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Life Questions

The combination of increased solitude and lessened busy-ness in my life, and the discipline of morning meditation has led me to having more conversations with myself. Throughout the emptier days, I return to the spacious meditation room, and words and thoughts mumble around in my mind, like the smooth round rocks churned by the waves at the ocean’s edge. Sometimes I find myself hung up on a thought, substituting and rolling words around until I get to the essence. Or mulling over experiences that I can shrink down into a simple phrase.

About a year ago, our day-to-day lives were suddenly changed, and everyday habits had to be abandoned. Immediately noticeable was losing the convenience of running into stores when a need pops up. All of a sudden, it was a challenging experience, and many of us just stayed out of stores. So, much to my delight, the duct tape fixed the cracked watering can, a back corner of a closet had some long unused wrapping paper, and long underwear and heavy sweaters that I hadn’t worn for years were discovered. I didn’t need new stuff. Shopping behavior now included some stockpiling and sticking to necessities. Fewer trips and fewer temptations. When I asked myself “Do I HAVE enough?” the answer was often Yes. It was surprising how well I could get along with so few trips to stores.

I sometimes had dark thoughts, of getting really sick and going to the hospital and not coming home. Aside from that, at age 79, who knows how many years I have ahead of me. Financially, I’ve saved well and don’t have a lavish life style. So I thought about my first question, and changed a couple of letters of a word, and asked myself “Do I GIVE enough?” It has always been true, but especially now, that there are so many people who are having a hard time getting by. Even my own son. So the answer to that question was No—and I’m happily taking more action—contributing more to food pantries and organizations, and pushing beyond some hurdles so that I can relieve my son of some financial burden. And, aside from financial considerations, I’ve tried to be continually supportive and compassionate to family and friends and acquaintances—but I question is there ever ENOUGH of that kind of giving in this world. So the answer to my second question, Do I GIVE enough, is always NO.

Changing a couple of letters again, my third question formed: “Do I LOVE enough”. Who/what do I Love? The obvious, family and friends. My cats (although they are all in the past), my home, my indoor plants, my yard. The butterflies and moths that I monitor and that I raise and that I educate people about. The tastes, the sounds, the sights in my everyday life. The past, the present, the future. So much to love, so much I am blessed with. So the answer to this question could be Yes—except that the scope of the Love that radiates out has no boundaries, is limitless. How can I show the love that I feel? How can I DO the love that I feel? If I love the woods, if I love the fresh air, if I love all the creatures, if I love this planet, what am I doing to keep it healthy? So in different spheres of my life, the answer to this question, Do I LOVE enough, is Never Enough.

So, three life questions: Do I HAVE enough? Do I GIVE enough? Do I LOVE enough?

On the other side of this pandemic, we will have changed. Unforeseen tragedies and joys will have affected us. We will be sadder, happier, wiser, and stronger. Oh, and one more word change, with a question I can ask myself every day: “Do I LIVE enough?”

These few words are enough

If not these words, this breath

If not this breath, this sitting here

Opening to the life I have refused again and again

Until now

Until now

It is not enough to know

It is not enough to follow

the inward road conversing in secret

It is not enough to see straight ahead

To gaze at the unborn

thinking the silence belongs to you

It is not enough to hear

even the tiniest edge of rain

You must go to the place

where everything waits,

there, when you finally rest,

even one word will do,

one word, or the palm of your hand

turning outward

in the gesture of gift.

And now we are truly afraid

to find the great silence

asking so little.

One word…one word only

Participants' Reflections

  • That was beautiful - I'll be asking myself those questions the rest of the day - and my life.

  • Thank you so much. I want to share it with a circle of women I meet with. It has a huge range. What it did for me, when you think of those four words—having, giving, loving, living—to me, it matched my bloodstream of why we are here. I want to live in the last section in my reentry into the external world after this pandemic. It was moving, very rich. I want to thank you.

  • I loved the simplicity of what you said. I think of the transformations I’ve seen in this group as we speak. We are learning and giving to each other. It’s like the life of a butterfly. So thank you.

  • It sent me down the road of opposites, how we are whole but broken, how we are the same but unique, how we are not enough but we are enough. So, thank you. We are all together but separate. Thank you everyone.

  • Thank you. I really thought it was powerful. I’ve never phrased questions like that for myself. I do ask questions, but I don’t put it into the context of now and in this moment. It was real and rich. Something that will stay with me.

  • I liked the phrase about condensing your thoughts into a brief package, shrinking thoughts down into a simple phrase.

  • That was the phrase that stuck with me as well. I loved the transitions and that phrase. I can get stuck in my mind. Those questions can be dynamite for me. I can go off onto a self-depravation pattern I have as an adult child and box myself into a corner. That phrase, condensing it down into one word—I woke up this morning and I had this thing going on in my head. I was like, what am I trying to do, why am I playing this every angle, every way. And what you said about condensing it down to one word, it gave me an opportunity to go, okay, when I see that starting to spin, give it a word and let it go, let it flow off. The other piece is knowing I wanted to not go into the trap of the hamster wheel am I enough? Did I give enough? Did I love enough? I went into my body and starting humming and toning inside so that I didn’t get caught up in the thinking of the words. I just felt like I was expanding my body—I am enough, I have enough, I love enough. I stayed away from the question and answered it for myself. Thank you for that. That was very powerful.

  • That was beautiful. Thank you so much. The words that spoke to me were ‘am I living enough?’ I’m going to contemplate that for a while. I don’t have an answer. Before getting on this morning, I listened to the cellist Hauser playing “Alone Together.” It reminded me of this group. It was a beautiful way of being present with all of you in that music. Grateful to all of you. Thank you.

  • Thank you. Those are great questions not to answer, but questions to live into. Those are questions that are important. If we have them in the back of our minds, we can live into them. All the rest, all the unimportant things fall away because you were able to do such a wonderful job of distilling the basics. I could just see those rocks tossing around and getting smoother.

  • Thank you. I thought that was so beautiful, a well-constructed thought process. It reminded me of needs. Maslow defined our hierarchy of needs. At the most basic level, am I being take care of? Do I have enough? Then you branched into empathy, turning outwards to helping and loving others. And then into celebration of life. I loved that progression. It reminds me of what I learned from the 12-step program. If I’m not centered, my job is to center. If I am centered, my job is to do service to help others and do my creative work. That’s how I live my life and it ties in with what you said. I really resonate with what you said.

  • Thank you. That was beautiful. You give so much. I love milkweed and the flowers it makes and love knowing it will help butterflies. I wish more people respected that and didn’t chop down the milkweed. What you wrote was so beautiful, it made it easy to understand.

  • I do a lot of energy work. When I bring myself up to a bird’s-eye view of what is happening in this world, the Universe is amazing how it’s forcing people to turn inward. There are many people fighting that. But when one turns inward and has these conversations and observations and ‘aha’ moments, it may come with struggle and denial, but eventually, as it persists, acceptance happens. We become our own friend and give ourselves what we need to feel nurtured, comforted and cared for. It seems to be the key to everything. And so, what you wrote reminds me of that, because you have mulled and traveled and explored and asked and settled back with your questions. Thank you.

  • I have been listening, but something interrupted my connection. So I missed much of the reading but heard the ending. I had no idea about what you meant by the ‘one word’ at the end. I wondered what would my one word be, and I chose the word ‘yes.’ Then I listened to the comments of appreciation. I look forward to reading the blog. The word ‘enough’ I have chewed on for years.

  • We are quite a community. We live our lives in authenticity and vulnerability, with our joys and sorrows. To me, we are like a living, breathing vessel with its own engine, its heart. Thank you for being a part of it.

  • Thank you. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for being part of this tribe. We will be here tomorrow. I hope you all have a gentle day with gentle words that you say to yourself to treat you inside the way you want to be treated outside. Have a good day.

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