Home: Where Gratitude Lives – 9/15/16

I’m writing from my parent’s dining room table. My childhood home nests amongst four acres of wooded hillside. In the moistness of the Midwest the view is bursting with many shades of green, and the sun dances across the grass and leaves of the trees.

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I love coming back to Wisconsin (now), it’s been nearly a year and a half since my last visit. My brother is getting married this Saturday, the reason for my return. The greenery, the thunderstorms, and the rolling hills carry a special place in my heart.  I’m honored to bring James and Stitch with me, it’s their first time to the Great Lakes region of the United States.

Visiting the place I grew up, I’m remember the passions I had as a child, before I became influenced by culture, or became busy with life as an adult and the world’s expectations of me. I used to make art in many forms: painting, drawing, sculpting, getting my hands dirty with charcoal pastels, dancing, singing, playing music, creating imaginary worlds to explore in my own backyard. I’m reminded of how nourished I am when I give time and space to Create; not for anyone else, just for me and the pure pleasure of being creative. Writing is one avenue to create, to spend time with my vital life force and see what emerges–not judge it, but rather to celebrate it because it’s here at all!

While being back in the Midwest with a HomeFree perspective, I consider what life is like for those who are here. Those who perhaps never left. Those that live in the small, rural towns they were born and raised in, perhaps their parents were too. Indeed this used to be more of the way decades ago; folks lived more connected to their family and extended family, community was more relied upon when, as a culture, we were less consumeristic and individual. Yet I can’t help but wonder: How happy are they, the “ones who stayed”? How much time and energy have they been able to dedicate exploring their gifts and passions, to create for the sake of creating?

With the approach of my brothers wedding, and talking with family and friends, I see how much of the plan is already “laid out” before us. Where I’m from, most people go to college, meet their “someone”, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids and then…?  Wait? Wait for their kids to grow up. Wait for a better job. Wait for a better house. Wait until their retired. This creates the–when this, then that–scenario. When I have a job I like, then I’ll… When my kids are grown up, then I’ll…. For someone who is choosing an entirely different path, it’s difficult to not judge them. And it’s likely difficult for them to not judge me. And I have to look at myself and recognize when I play the–when this, than that–game, and how it doesn’t serve me.

If I assume I’m happier because I’ve left, that’s a judgement. (*I’m using judgement in this sense in the negative. In actuality, judgment doesn’t mean negative, it’s definition is: the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.) More accurately I’m pondering, what is the depth of life for these folks? And within that reflection, what is the depth of my life? I started re-reading The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. He writes that according to the Buddha, enlightenment is the lack of suffering. He explains that the greater the resistance to what is, the greater the suffering; enlightenment is the complete acceptance of what is. Perhaps the folks that live here are in great acceptance of what is, and truly are content. I know some are unhappy and unsure of how to change it. True enlightenment is accepting where you are, no matter where you are.

Mr. Tolle writes that gratitude is a necessary tool for being in acceptance. In the privileged world of middle-class America, there is plenty to be grateful for, yet it seems there’s still plenty we complain about-myself included. I don’t know about you, but for me, suffering cannot exist while there’s gratitude. Sure things might be shitty, but it’s my choice if I suffer because they’re shitty, I carry on anyway and recognize there is something to be grateful for.

Accepting every scenario allows space to solutionaize if there’s something to do about the scenario. My car broke down on the side of the road. Be grateful. My heart is broken and aching, be grateful. My stomach hurts from too much cheese, be grateful. My mind is stretched by contemplating how people can love sitting and passively watching others play games and be active in their bodies. Be grateful.

In the last post I realized how beautiful it is to get out of the logical, reason or story and acceptance whatever it is. Perhaps the more we are in a place of acceptance, the more life will show up in a way that is easier to accept. Until it doesn’t. And then…dig deep, and find your capacity to be grateful.

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