Quitting a 40-day Journey

Call me a quitter; call me weak. Regardless of what you think, I am ending my 40-day journey today, weeks before day 40. This is not to say I won’t read the rest of the books; I will continue reading, but I am no longer going to blog about my take on the readings, etc. [I can hear the applause and cheers. I’m applauding, too. I wont miss my overly dramatic (and boring) take on the messages of Warren and Tolle.]

Due to several moments last week, my viewpoints changed. Which, really, my viewpoints are in a constant state of change. I am a woman, after all.

Beatrice Potter said, “There is something delicious about writing those first few words of a story. You can never quite tell where they will take you. Mine took me here. Where I belong.”

I am here; where I belong. I don’t need to continue traveling down my self-proclaimed 40-day journey. The following thought may seem trivial, if not obvious: I was consumed with myself during this journey. And, while consumed with myself, I had friends and family suffering greater challenges in life than whether or not one eats too much ice cream. My self-centeredness seemed inappropriate and rude. (Hmmm…is it ever appropriate to be self-centered?)

I remember when my Dad died, I wanted the world to stop and acknowledge the pain and sorrow felt by my family. The reality is – death and suffering is all around us all the time. It isn’t until we feel the sting directly that we ‘get’ the grief. And, we get the triviality of self-made problems.

Am I saying we should spend each day thinking of the sorrow being felt by nameless, faceless people in the world? No. Although, I do think putting things into perspective on a daily basis is helpful. And, if that means, realizing pain and suffering surround you, so be it.

I do not like the spotlight. As much as I babble about myself and my life, you may find the previous statement hard to believe, but it is true. Instead, I want to be there for my family and friends. And, I don’t need books to find my purpose in life. My purpose in life is to help others. I thrive when I believe I am helping. Granted, times exist when I thought I was helping, but I was merely sticking my nose where it did not belong. Plus, there is a fine line between helping and nagging.

Before someone suggests that I find it easier to worry about others because I do not want to worry about or deal with my own issues, I say I do not have issues when I stop and compare my gripes to the meatier things in life. Unless I am facing a life or death situation, losing my home or loved one, going without food for an extended amount of time or some other true tragedy, well – I think I am OK. More than OK.

Do I battle depression? Yes, and I take a pill for that battle. Am I cranky sometimes? Yep, and I get happy again. Do I get overly emotional? Obviously. Do I think PMS sucks? You betchum; then, my period starts. Does my family think PMS sucks more? Yeah, and the two weeks of normalcy is never long enough. But, I am alive, and my family is healthy. I’d rather spend my time and energy allowing myself to help those who need it most. Who knows, one day it may be my family.

While it may be important to focus inward from time to time, sometimes enlightenment comes from a place outside of yourself and has nothing to do with yourself. Someone recently posted the following quote, from the Dalai Lama, on her Facebook page: “Once you shift your focus from yourself to others and extend your concern to others, this will have the immediate effect of opening up your life and helping you reach out. The practice of cultivating altruism has a beneficial effect not only from a religious point of view but also from a mundane point of view; not only for long-term spiritual development but even in terms of immediate rewards.


My View Today

Tolle writes, “When every thought absorbs your attention completely, when you are so identified with the voice in your head and the emotions that accompany it that you lose yourself in every thought and every emotion, then you are totally identified with form and therefore in the grip of ego.”

Because of the overwhelming awareness of emotions within me, the voice in my head rattles on most of my waking hours. And today, there is frustration and sadness within me. My heart aches for my nephew, and my heart aches for one of my very best friends, who just found out her Mom is battling Cancer. And, as I read Tolle today, the frustration within me increases.

Living in an unconscious state is sometimes a blessing. Generally speaking, drug addicts, alcoholics, bulimics, anorexics, etc. aren’t trying to find their conscious state; rather they are trying to find a state of unconsciousness. Yes, I understand the concept of the mind – the ego – telling you that your life is lacking for whatever reason. I understand the concept of using food to avoid the labels of the ego. But seriously, I am wondering if I am too in tune with my emotional state. I am wondering if I am too in tune with a conscious state. I analyze too much as it is now; reading Tolle seems to encourage further analysis which is overloading the circuits in my consciousness.

One of my Facebook friends had this as her status: ‘In the 60’s, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.’ There is humor and truth to that thought. Humankind is constantly searching for something else. If that statement weren’t true, books would not be sold, and spiritual teachers would not have pupils attending their classes. Even living in the state of consciousness creates a desire to find an even deeper sense of consciousness. Seeking a deeper sense of consciousness risks falling into the trap of always wanting greater fulfillment.

When frustrated or sad (or experiencing any emotion), Tolle suggests one should express the feeling as ‘there is frustration in me’, rather than saying ‘I am frustrated’. Tolle suggests that the emotion has nothing to do with who you are. Honestly, I do notice a difference within myself when I say, “I feel frustrated” vs. “There is frustration within me.” One of those statements seems to remove me from the situation to the point that the frustration seems less intense. However, even though there are tendencies within me to stew on any given emotion at any given time, I don’t recall feeling as though any given emotion was my identity. Unless ‘crazy’ is an emotion.

Seriously, this book is dangerous territory for me. I need not be encouraged to observe my thoughts instead of listening to my thoughts. Listening was never a strong suit of mine, anyway. In the meantime, the frustration and sadness exists within me. My thoughts are consumed with my friend and her Mom. In fact, after reading this, I ask that you take a moment to say a prayer, send a positive thought, or whatever the spiritual side of you does – please send support to my friend and her family. Her brother, while battling a brain tumor, kept these words beside him during his struggle: Strength, Perseverance, Determination, Hope. Those are good qualities on which to hold tight.

And to my friend, I raise a glass of Guinness to you and your Mom. Guinness for Strength; Guinness for Health. I love you.