The Stuff of Stars

By Thea Iberall



We have dreams and goals, and yet many of us are stuck somewhere, feeling unable to achieve what we want. We find we are living a life that is lacking in something. I've been stalled for years on projects I want to move forward on, and yet I can't. People get their plays produced on Broadway but I don't. People get big publishing houses to publish their books but I don't. People accomplish great things and get into the history books. I sit on the sidelines and watch. What is stopping me from achieving my goals? I'm stopped by my smallness of thinking. An easy thing to say, but what does it mean? I'm stopped by my fears. I think I don't know enough, or I don't have the right connections, or I don't have the resources. I'm too old or too tired. I've tried too hard and I've failed too many times. But this morning I read something remarkable in Bill Bryson’s book A Short History of Nearly Everything. He says we are made up of atoms, lots of them. In the tip of my right little finger alone, there are a billion billion atoms. Multiple that by the rest of me and that's a lot of atoms. And those atoms came from all over the place and all over time. Atoms live almost forever, they rarely die. And they coalesce for some years into a solid mass, like me or like you, before they fly off somewhere else. So now I'm thinking about my atoms, the billions upon billions upon billions and where they've been in their journey. As I meditate on my atoms, I feel their power grow in me. I've got atoms that once were part of Shakespeare. I've got atoms from Buddha giving me a taste of his serenity. Atoms from Aristotle still dripping with his insights. Atoms from trees in rainforests. Atoms from saber-tooth tigers, from mastodons. Atoms from Queen Victoria, Jane Austen, Sojourner Truth and Sacajawea. I am the stuff of what makes the stars. Atoms from nebula and novae and shooting stars. Atoms from the bottom of the ocean. Atoms from the original big bang. This is power sheer and raw: the power to write manuscripts, to be serene. The power to fight back and fight for. The power to explore and journey to all reaches and verges. How can I stay thinking small when I consist of the largest and smartest and kindest entities that have ever been? I am the stars. I am the trees. I am Shakespeare and Buddha and Sojourner and all that has ever been. These atoms coalesced me. Now I get to rejoice in—to celebrate, to exalt—this miracle that is me. I am a glorious collection of thinkers and doers. I am larger than even my goals and dreams. It is time to explode in my thinking and dreaming, to expand into the full awakeness of my being and be the me I already am.


Participants’ Reflections

  • Thank you, that was wonderful. It was like jumping into one of those children’s playgrounds with all those multi-colored balls. It was joyous and comforting. It was a wonderful feeling. I really enjoyed it.

  • I remember Deepak Chopra saying much the same thing. It is both sobering and enlivening, knowing that the same atoms coursing through our veins have been around for so long. We ought to take advantage of it. Hearing that made my day and turned my mind around.

  • During your reading, when you initially started, you didn’t look happy. I felt sad for you because you weren’t getting how unique and amazing you are. But then you served it up and it was delightful. During the reflection, I thought of my connection with you that took me on a journey of emotional attachment. Your brain is so marvelous and works so differently than mine, that I was delighting in it.

  • It’s hard to see someone else gooping around in their goop, and it’s a joy to see them embrace their potential and love themselves. We all want each other to love ourselves and succeed in that love.

  • Thank you so much. I was left feeling wow. It was like a boost through me. In my reflection during the meditation, I thought about why not. Why not pursue this or that? It led to a shift in believing. I have as much as anyone else in this world to do anything I want. It may not be perfect and may not be the way I thought it should be, but I can pursue what I want, I can create something. Even though I know that intellectually, I forget about it as I get to the other bottom core beliefs.

  • Expectancy is what I heard in what you just shared. Being open. I’ve heard people talk about expectations versus expectancy. What’s the difference?

  • Expectations can lead to disappointment if the outcome is not what we want or expect. Expectancy is about accepting what comes. It’s about not making assumptions or judgments about what comes. Expectancy is being willing to be open to what happens.

  • Sometimes what comes isn’t good. So how can I live in expectancy if it isn’t going to be a good outcome? It takes more effort to stay in expectancy. If the circumstances are difficult, I focus on trusting that the outcome will teach me something. The other day, my expectations led to me falling flat on my face. It’s better to hold an open mind than to focus on the outcome I’m waiting for. Expectancy is maybe finding the diamonds in the dark.

  • Thank you so much. I appreciate the discussion on expectancy because I’m still learning about it. I remember a time when I disappointed myself. And a friend asked me what’s the lesson in it. There was an expectation that there would be a growth point in this unpleasant situation.

  • I too couldn’t believe the low opinion you had of your accomplishments in the beginning of your reading. What we do is keep giving, and we don’t know where it goes and what difference it makes. The line came to me “it is important to do small things with great love.” Like a conversation with a young child, how we can tap into an appreciation and joy that can continue to grow. I met a young boy and I told him how he made my life better by an action he did. Those are little things that keep on giving. It’s all a big flow. I thank you.

  • About expectancy, I learned that lesson from living with my daughter. Her terminal illness was a reminder she was going to leave. I learned the difference between expectation and expectancy by knowing she was leaving sooner than she should. I find something good in everything, even if it is a little thing. After my daughter left me and the grief took over, eventually I sifted out gifts from it. Expectations are set up before something happens. Expectancy can happen before, during, after. We find gifts if we are willing to look for them.

  • For me, I look at the future and if I’m thinking about whether I’m going to succeed or fail, it sets up an expectation. If the opposite thing happens, I’m disappointed. If the right thing happens, I’m in joy. With expectancy, I am open to what comes without putting a judgment on it. I’m open to what happens. I accept it and perhaps learn a lesson. This attitude avoids the disappointment.

  • Whenever I’m going to do something, I always have a plan B. So that when plan A fails, I move on to plan B. I’m never in disappointment.

  • I think living in expectation means I limit what I can experience. When I am in expectancy, what comes is what comes. There’s no need to judge it if I just experience it. I can judge it, but I don’t need to place a value on it. This is what’s happening.

  • We are all terrific problem solvers. We’ve gotten through tons of stuff. The gifts don’t always reveal themselves right away and we keep moving forward. I remind myself this every day.

  • Thank you. That was beautiful. During the meditation, I was envisioning the journey of atoms on a piece of artwork which would have those words embedded in it. I could read them more than once a day. I was watching old interviews of Krishnamurti. The question was how can he be such a calm, joyful person this late in his life. His answer was ‘I don’t mind what happens.’ I wrote that down. Knowing no matter what happens, I will be okay. I can spin out when my expectations are not met but if I think about the fact that I can handle it, then I’m okay. I could have written something similar to the first part of what you wrote. I am realizing how much this group has helped me grow in the past few months. So many awarenesses coming to the forefront of my mind. My expectations make me small in so many ways. The muscles around my throat are tight. It’s been eye-opening to see how much I make myself small.

  • Thomas Alva Edison experimented on making light bulbs. He had 999 failures before he figured it out. He said they weren’t failures, but that he figured out 999 ways that didn’t work.

  • In terms of the limiting possibilities, expectations are so specific. There are so many things that can happen, often the possibilities are much better than what is expected, and some are about the same and some are worse. When we limit ourselves, we can’t realize the expansiveness of what’s possible.

  • Thank you so much for joining us today in this magical, mystery of the journey we are taking in this incubator. I hope you connect with your atoms today and think of where they came from. Bring the power and joy of those places into your thoughts and mind today. Be gentle with your day and yourselves.


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