on hopelessness

i have this interesting relationship with hopelessness. i understand its powerful potential. and i don’t believe in it.

now this is not to say that life has not taken me to those precipices where i’ve peered over that jagged edge into the great abyss of what next and wondered if it might be easier to just call it a day. the mind plays its tricks. there is the where-i-am-now and the where-i-will-be-then, and in between those two points is a great mystery. sometimes that great mystery looks like a freshly paved asphalt path with a bright white dashed line down the middle heading into a lush canopy of trees with rays of sunshine beaming through. sometimes it’s dense fog or black smoke and i’m not sure that i can breathe in there or if i can protect myself from the creatures with fangs and claws that lie in wait.

then i look into the rearview mirror of my life, the perspective that makes the most sense, and i remember. i remember where i’ve been. i feel the breath of the panting creatures in the dark, and i smell the smoke in my hair, and i see the moonlight reflecting off of the stripe in the asphalt, and i recognize the pulse of faith and trust in my blood. i stand here grateful, embodied, present, whole. this is what i came here for, to fall in love with the messy, beautiful, profound, delicious, excruciating, intense, immense privilege of being alive.

each time my love for life wins.

my teacher, yogarupa rod stryker, loves to talk about souls, the infinite number of them floating like fireflies in that great mystery of which i speak, hoping for an entry point into human form. there are countless souls, he teaches us, and only a limited number of bodies, and the fact that we have made it, that our strength of purpose has brought us into this form, is nothing short of a miracle.

miraculous trumps hopeless.

yesterday i sat at the hospital bedside of a dear friend who recently attempted suicide. she is in ICU, freshly off a ventilator, battling pneumonia, and suffering from nervous tremors and severe depression. while she was unable to speak, we communicated through scribbles on a dry erase board, tears, and crooked smiles. no greater words were spoken though, than in the deep silence of when we looked so deeply into each others’ eyes that there was nothing but the raw truth of oneness in the space between. suffering. shame. embarrassment. anger. gratitude. beauty. love. all of it. in the space between.

ubuntu. i am because we are and since we are, therefore i am. i am you.

there was a time when a man i loved contracted tongue cancer. it was right in the thick of the financial crash of 2009 and 2010 when two of my clients had committed suicide and another had left his family and hightailed it to brazil, all because their material success was compromised. my partner was one of the purest souls i had ever met. never smoked. never drank. ate organic food, most of it grown in his back yard. took in birds with broken wings and protected his neighbors. heart of gold. he had 1/3 of his tongue removed and all of the lymph nodes on one side of his neck. he recovered in my home. every day for a month i stared straight into the face of death and wrestled with my anger and confusion about where god was in all of it. it made no logical sense to me that my dear one would suffer in this way when people were making the conscious choice to end their lives because of their enmeshment with material status. it was a precipice.

a mentor of mine at the time suggested that i begin to look for places where god is. not where god isn’t. my teacher erich schiffmann teaches about inviting spirit into the little things. which outfit to wear. whether to have an apple or a banana for breakfast. building a relationship and a sense of trust. i thought it was ample time to practice that one.

i was beginning my drive to work one morning and i implored god to show me which driving route to take. as i pulled up to a stop sign i turned to my right where there was an orange neon sign that advertised a missing dog. the sadness on the surface of my skin was prickly hot and easily stimulated. i took in the loss that the sign represented and kept on. at the next traffic light the clear direction was to turn right. my next turn after that revealed a dead dog in the middle of the street. i started to pound my steering wheel and sob into the space of whoever listens to screaming prayers, begging to understand why there was so.much.death. everywhere.

i was driving home that night and there it was. the orange neon sign. the missing dog. i pulled out my cell phone and called the number on the sign. i told the woman the story of the dead dog in the street by the firehouse, across from the starbucks, and could that be her baby. she wept. she texted me a picture. yes. i was the messenger of closure and relief, and the beginning of the healing that is the gift of grief.

suddenly i realized, i am not meant to understand within the timeframe that i demand it. there is an intelligence that is higher than me that has a plan, which includes my best interest and those of every human being. always. i am not meant to suffer. the invitation is to expand my capacity for all that arises in this life, to be a beacon for trust and faith.

and hope.

25 years after my mother committed suicide her best friend found me through my blog and told me the story of how she sat at my mother’s bedside when she was in a psych ward after having a nervous breakdown. my mother’s friend listened to my mother talk about her hopelessness, that she was sure she was going to lose her children if the courts found out that she was taking anti-depressant medication.

so she stopped taking it.

the story that i had carried on my back for all those years was that of my mother abandoning me because i wasn’t worth living for, when in fact it was the thought that she would lose her children that hijacked her desire to live.

this year i am 44 years old. on august 6th, i will turn 45. my mother ended her life at 44. this year has been one of ceremony and commemoration and getting clear on what i want to carry forward on my mother’s behalf. also of what i am no longer willing to carry forward.

on good friday of this year, my ex-husband stepped into a bathtub, put a gun in his mouth, and blew his brains out. i left our marriage 7 years ago after my mother came to me in a vision during a kundalini yoga class. she told me that i was headed down a path that was the same as hers, and that i was at a point where i could choose differently. when i learned of my ex-husband’s death, during this particular year of integrating all of the grief work that i have done around my mother’s death, i immediately dropped into prayer, sending him off with grace and light into the next phase of his journey, and expressing gratitude for my life. i felt the sweet release of understanding the precipice, and the moment of hopelessness, and the power of choice.

yesterday after i went to go see my friend in the hospital i stepped beyond the weight of the hospital doors to be greeted by a beautiful fountain. i walked up to its edge and closed my eyes, turned my face towards the sun and let myself be bathed in the delight of wanting to live. i listened to the water and felt the warmth on my face and the pull of gravity beneath my feet.

i am here.

on the way home from the hospital i stopped for some food. on my way out there was a paraplegic woman who was struggling to get in her car and asked me for help. she was sitting in the driver’s seat and her legs were extended out in front of her, on lock down, in spasm. she said, “if you can just help me bend my knees and get my legs under the steering wheel i’ll be just fine. i have great upper body mobility.” she was giggling in an oh-those-silly-legs kind of way, embodying the deepest state of surrender. once i had her settled she thanked me and wished me a beautiful weekend.

contrast is our greatest teacher.

i saw this quote last night by anais nin: “i must be a mermaid. i have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”

there simply is no place for hopelessness.

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