I read in The Earth Was Flat by Mason Dwinell that sometimes during the early stages of gazing some old deeply entrenched patterns can re-emerge and seem to take hold as they bubble to the surface in order to heal and be released. It’s similar to a cancer patient who is healing from a juice fast feeling worse before they feel better because the toxins are being pushed to the surface by the nourishment (See “The Gerson Therapy” for details on natural cures for cancer). Before the toxins leave you fully, you experience them one last time in their death-throws; it’s called a healing flash, but it feels like a cruel joke. I have been dealing with acute impatience and a general feeling of “fed-up-ness” with the parade of mistakes and errors coming across my desk this last week. It’s almost comical how many things have gone awry, almost comical. I have been feeling stressed and tired for days. In the midst of this my business is going through a slow patch it can’t afford. The online menu is broken and the company that deals with that is telling me it’s not fixable. Also, the operators over at my phone service can’t seem to figure out how to charge a simple credit card. I forget, are we in the year 2014 or 1914? Because with all the different aspects of the technology I’ve come to depend on breaking down, it’s becoming harder and harder to tell.
I think I am supposed to be learning peace this week. Or maybe the universe already thought I had learned it and it threw me this week full of problems and worries and setbacks to give me the opportunity to see my growth, to realize how far I’ve come. Well if that’s the case it back-fired, big time. I have written strongly worded emails, made frantic phone calls equating my phone problems to those of an impending apocalypse. I have brooded, panicked, and eaten my stress in the form of donuts and chocolate milk. And I haven’t been the most polite. I am trying to put my best foot forward when I interact with the incompetent monkeys at the various companies I associate with. I am intending to be patient. I know they are just an aspect of me, sent by the universe to reflect my inner state of being back to me. I know they, like me, are energy and molecules and we are connected at the most deep and fundamental levels. I know all is one. I known when I treat them with love I am also loving myself. But I have to say, interconnectedness of the universe notwithstanding, I could slug somebody today. Fingers crossed, this recent dip into the old pattern of an edgy demeanor and a short fuse is just a healing flash, brought about by my and the sun’s shared determination to see me heal once and for all.
Last night I joined my friend Brett again passing out hand-rolled burritos to the hungry wandering the streets of Hollywood. The enlightened version of Brian filled with sunlight and awe can see that my problems are small when compared to the situations of some of my comrades making make-shift tents on cold streets every night. But the grumpy version of Brian, filled with expectations and needing reassurances doesn’t notice that reality one single bit. I had a bad day, Mr. Hungry Man, so don’t give me any lip or you ain’t getting a burrito, you got me! As the night wears on the same impactful gratitude I experienced last time exudes from most of these folks again, softening my self-righteous irritable shell. This time we rode in the van, and over the course of two hours we passed out over one hundred burritos to a very gentle and grateful population. One of the burrito slingers, Rob, has been coming for months and you can tell by his relationships with these folks. He greeted a few of the hungry people by name and asked one woman how she is feeling since being released from the hospital. Suddenly it struck me in a wave: these folks are not a project I can sign up to do, to make myself feel better, they are people. They are me, a suffering, real, deeply grateful and sometimes slightly intoxicated part of me.
Reality changed for me in that moment. The very real suffering taking place minute by minute on these streets hits me in my solar plexus in a way it just didn’t penetrate two weeks ago. As I saw Rob interact with these folks I saw two friends talking over burritos. Rob’s peace and confidence and kindness is evident, brilliant, and striking. I realize that taking action produces the same results as sun-gazing. Rob puts all his love and attention into this, week after week. Not for credit, not for glory, just because it matters. He takes action, and that fills him the way I’m asking sunlight to fill me. Selfless service, or Seva, they call it. And it works magic. Rob’s good friend, also Rob, was there for the first time tonight. This Second Rob marveled at the fact that his friend First Rob, had been coming here for months and never said a word to him. This struck me too, and a bible verse from my stint as a born-again Christian flashed through my mind: but when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you, Matthew 6:4. It seems to me, from my perspective looking in that the reward is peace, purpose and joy; Rob’s face beams. Am I a fool trying to get from the sun what others around me seem to get from concrete, action-oriented good deeds? Or is it the sun’s influence on me that brought me here on Wednesday night to roll up my sleeves, roll burritos, and roll out into the seedier parts of town?
I can’t say I’m miraculously and magically not grumpy this morning. The avalanche of errors and inconveniences has kept right on coming. But I’m looking at it differently. I’m seeing the playful game behind the design of the universe again. I see how even the curveballs are my challenge and I’m ready to knock some outta the park. I am growing, and dealing with the ebbs and flows of my emotions is how I can tell. So I might regret saying this, but Universe, I am ready for whatever you want to throw my way, bring it on.
SIDE EFFECTS: I think the sunlight is bringing up old patterns and melting them away once and for all. On their way out I have to experience every speck of them, which has been an unexpected curveball.
BENEFITS: I am learning how to hit a curve ball out of the park and turn it into a home run. And right now the bases are loaded, over loaded. Batter up!