Getting What You Need

This is a mystery that has recently been revealed to me. It’s the tail of life’s comet full of “unexpected” events, and a way to fall more deeply into love with life, your life, as it shows up moment by moment.

I’m sitting in a big easy chair in my living room surrounded by silence and the gray light of a February day. I’ve just awakened from a short nap that overtook me while reading a book after chopping wood.

I’m home today because freezing rain falling across the valleys of North Central Washington closed the college where I teach part time. I’m tired because I got up at 5:00 to cover an 8:00 class for a colleague, and I wanted to leave enough time for the forecast sleet and stop at my favorite coffee place before school. Halfway through my breakfast a little after 6:00 am, I got the email that the College was closed due to the weather.

I’m here alone because my partner is working on two new paintings in her studio, something that takes her out of the house now daily as long as there is light to paint by.

None of this sounds particularly meaningful on the surface, but for me it is the source of a deepening relaxation into what shows up.

Recently I resigned from a job that, while part time, occupied my mind 24/7. It had been both a profound source of joy and more recently the cause of considerable discomfort. The discomfort, my partner has helped me see through the ongoing process of lived daily mutuality, came from my refusal to love and honor myself enough to listen to my intuition, which had been telling me for months that the job was over for me. Once I opened the door to that, a great equalizing of pressure swept me out of the position like an energetic tsunami that has cleared out three more days a week for me to Be more than Do.

At nearly 62 years old, the tail of my comet contains remnants of the emotional detritus of this particular and conditioned life. The person who needed outside validation, couldn’t be or act alone, emitted a bitter projection of my neediness on those in my personal and professional sphere, a force field of activity to counteract the discomfort of being alive.

Today, I am relaxed about the emptiness of home, life, days. I am always getting what I need to come, and be, more fully alive in each moment. Minute by minute I’m letting go of ideas and leaning into what arises. To the unfathomable curious mystery of Being alive.

To riff off the old Stones standard, you may not always know or get what you want, but if you relax into what arises, you always get what you need.

Now you might say, do I need disease, disaster, and death? This is where the mystery deepens. If you accept that you are not, despite your best intentions, in charge of what arises, what in the common human parlance, you call your life, you will go more easily through it. A teacher of mine once said about the awakening process, “be prepared to live with a broken heart.” If we can trust our human vulnerability and live and love in this broken openness, our lives unfold exponentially.

Don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself. The next time you find yourself wishing things were otherwise, dare to lean into the way things are and ask yourself: what’s in this for me? There’s a gift under the disappointment that only you can open.

It’s snowing now. Tea is steaming on my desk. The dog wants to come in. There’s a woodpecker eating the suet in the pine. Moment by moment, life is revealing itself, following its own path like a stream or a river in which we are afloat. Let go and see where it take you.

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