Up half the night with a sick child,
scrubbing puke out of the carpets,
attempting not to resent my ex
for leaving me
to deal with moments like these
on my own.
How can I tweak my mindset
when the moment
is so obviously difficult?
Any way you look at it,
a pukey carpet is smelly and gross.
How do you find spiritual wisdom
in disgusting moments?
I tried to tell myself
It is a privilege to clean up my daughter’s throw-up.
Yes I did.
I thought about childless couples
who would’ve paid dearly
many times over
to have a son or daughter of their own,
who would’ve been glad to be in my shoes,
scrubbing mess out of the carpet,
just to know they had a kid to love and raise.
It strikes me now in retrospect,
that it wasn’t so much the content of my mind,
but the act of attempting to shift
from feeling exhausted and overburdened
to the recognition of my blessings—
however disgustingly they were disguised—
that might bear beautiful fruit in the future.
Who knows what can grow
of experiences like these,
when they are met with the awareness
that there is always another way?
That’s all this really is.
Because our realities
are formed by our thoughts,
if we don’t like what we see
we need to rearrange how we think.
I’m not saying that we tolerate
the intolerable, oh no.
We aren’t being apathetic
to injustice or tyranny, nope.
A proper mindset
keeps us aware
of our power
and shows us how to wield it
in the wisest of ways.
I choose now
to be a stand for what is good
in the universe.
I see that good.
And I do everything in my power
to help others to see it
and express it
for the benefit of all beings.
Remembering to breathe when you’re grumpy
can mean the difference between
making a difficult situation worse
or relaxing into a state of calm reflection
in which words are carefully chosen,
listening is active and deliberate,
and clarity is achieved.
It comes down to choice–
do you want to make things worse
or do you want to bring peace
into this world?
And it is a choice,
as much as your mind might
attempt to convince you otherwise.
You choose where you place your attention.
You choose your thoughts, words and actions.
The real question is,
Are your choices conscious or unconscious?
The ability to consciously choose how
you think, speak and act
is a rare yet necessary superpower,
a precious medicine that can heal this world of chaos.
It is one of the most difficult and important things
a human being can do,
and it is certainly not for the faint of heart,
not for the one who gives up
when the first signs of difficulty arise.
This is why training is of utmost importance.
Training in different contexts,
beginning with the most simple and easy
and progressing through increasingly difficult tasks,
will give you the strength
and the presence of mind
to move in this world with awareness
and to meet the greatest challenges
And all of life is your training,
all of life is your practice.
If you choose to walk the path of the warrior,
see that this path is before you always.
Use this moment to awaken,
to grow stronger,
to see the important place you hold
in this many stranded web of life,
in this universe of infinite possibility.
There will be pain as well as pleasure,
else how would we know pleasure?
there will be sorrow as well as joy,
else how would we know joy?
And the ups and the downs,
and the victories and the defeats,
and the successes and the failures–
how would we know anything well
if we did not also know its opposite?
The trick is to let go into the uncertainty,
to embrace it,
to become familiar and comfortable
with the feeling
of standing right by the abyss,
not sure which way to go.
To not need life to be a certain way
in order to be happy
is true happiness.
To forge a path
through the very real experiences
of this human existence,
to walk right through them,
to breathe right through them,
to learn from them,
to connect with them…
to gain compassion for those
going through the same experiences as you–
this is the warrior’s path.
Do not ask for a remote control
as you observe
this movie that is your life
so that you can pause in the moments
where everything is going right.
Anything stuck in one place
grows stagnant and stale.
And this is the beauty of life–
like the rivers and oceans
like the sun and the moon
like the seasons
and the cycles of birth and death and rebirth–
it never stops.
It takes great courage
to look honestly
at where you’ve fallen
into habitual ruts
of reactivity and neurosis,
and greater courage still
to actively choose another way
when the opportunity presents itself.
And there are opportunities
every day, every second
to live into a more open
and clear version of yourself.
It’s not so much something
that you need to seek and discover,
it’s more of an uncovering
of the heart of wisdom
that has always been there.
Underneath the story line,
Make the choice to stay open
to this life
and you will live and die
with no regrets.
At some point
on this path of the spiritual warrior
to confront our fear.
It is inevitable.
We invest so much energy
in that which we fear,
and we fear that which
we don’t understand.
Our limited understanding
translates into limitless
reasons to be afraid.
we can seek to understand more,
and stay curious about
what we don’t know,
vowing to be a student of life,
We feel anxious over
that which we can’t anticipate.
And truly, we can’t be sure of any
We can’t anticipate anything
and this makes us terrified
for what might come.
Our fears keep us
in a prison
where there is no light
to see what we already have
all around us…
But we don’t have to stay in prison.
We can stand up to the fear,
look at it right in its eyes.
It will shrink back into
the nothingness from
whence it came.
The door is open.
Step through into the light of day.
There is no reason to be afraid.
Look around, and appreciate
this life that is yours.
The point isn’t protecting ourselves
and all of our loved ones
that is completely hopeless,
because suffering is a fact of life.
But what does give us hope
is this sweet acceptance
of this moment as it unfolds.
In the absence of resistance
we have so much clarity,
and we tap into the inner resources
necessary for awakening.
When we drop the thought
that this moment should
be other than what it is right now,
our crystal clear vision
gives us the power to
respond, rather than
react in the same old way.
Acceptance does not equal apathy.
I’m not encouraging you
to tolerate intolerable situations.
I’m not saying to accept social injustice,
to be mute, to go along with abuse–
on the contrary!
Your clear sight gives you the tools
to see, to speak up,
to know what must be done.
Your openness to this moment
gives you the strength and the courage
to go forth and do what must be done.
Drop the story,
embrace this moment.
Do what must be done
not from anger or self-righteousness
but from an open body-heart-mind
that honors the life in all of us.