Another decade come and gone. I was reflecting last night how much my life is different now than it was I 2010. In 2010, I was married with little kids, not working, spent little to no time outside my family. I was in a marriage that I didn’t know how to get out of. I was not really present for much of anything. I was just a person doing shit all the time.
Today, I am single. A full time single parent. Working. Spend a lot of time with my friends. No longer trapped in any relationship that can’t contain me. I write every day. I am still working on being present...I do a lot of shit all the time but a lot of that same shit is stuff for me instead of others.
2020 is said to be the year of perfect vision. I have thought about this a lot. What that means and what that could bring into the coming year. The truth is that none of us really know what is going to happen five minutes from now, let alone for an entire year. Being able to see clearly is something that some people are born with. Something others struggle with. Something others cannot do at all. Some people can have their vision corrected, of course their own cooperation is absolutely required.
Regardless of what vision you were born with, most of us have some say so as to whether we receive prescriptive lenses, if we wear them and how often. Some people’s natural vision is completely lacking, requiring major correction in order for functionality to be marginal. Others just need a slight tweak and their vision honed and crystalline.
I like the metaphor that the year 2020 allows. Metaphorically speaking about vision and the year providing perfect vision. Perfection an idea that belongs to that of the holder. My perfection could be your complete fuck up. And vice versa.
Here is what I hope perfect vision means for all of us...
2020 vision allows us to see ourselves as we are. Flaws, strengths, areas for improvement with a compassionate, loving view. We can see the places that require our attention and we bend to those flaws in a manner that allows for reverence and understanding. We don’t shun them, pretend they don’t exist. We do not continue to behave in ways that strengthen our habitual responses that are less than ideal. We see the weakness and areas for improvement in a manner similar to how we might view an infant learning to walk. We stand by and watch, ever ready to assist but with knowledge that this new skill must be acquired by the infant. We cannot do it for them.
In a similar manner, we allow ourselves to unfold. Always reaching and striving to grow towards love. Thich Naht Hanh said there are four ingredients to true love: loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. He believes that if your love contains these four elements then this love will acquire a holiness. True love has a transformative power to heal and bring deep meaning to our lives.
Loving kindness requires an unconditional friendliness to ourselves and to everyone we encounter. For me this simply means bringing an air of “I don’t know you yet and I can’t wait to” to every person I encounter, to include myself. I can be the light to someone else. I can offer happiness and radiate light. I can be positive and upbeat. In order to share with others, you have to find a home within yourself. A place in you that you can reside and love and honor that supplants all the self doubt and fear. Once you are able to love yourself as yourself, it is easy to love others. It requires almost no effort. Everyone can come and go, but the love doesn’t change. You have something to offer everyone.
Compassion is being willing to feel the pain of others. To put yourself in their stead. To be willing to see things from their perspective even if it might differ drastically from your own. For me the practice of tonglen (sending and taking) is the best way to increase compassion. Whenever I see something painful within my own heart or that of another being, I breathe it in wishing to fully feel the pain so much so that the other being is relieved. When I encounter happiness, I take that in as well, but I then breathe it out in a manner that causes the feeling to multiply exponentially. This is hard. It is not easy to move toward the pain and be willing to take it in, especially if it isn’t your pain. Why would anyone sign up to feel more pain especially when it can be avoided? Try it some time, then you will understand that it is the willingness to move toward the pain that allows you to radiate the happiness. The more pain you take on and feel, the bigger your heart becomes for love and happiness.
Joy is something we do. It is an action. It is a manner in which to behave. It is fun and light and airy. Joy shared is like a sunny day where the temperature is perfect and the air light. Joy allows all to vibrate at the same level together. Joy unifies and brings a level of understanding to each person you encounter. Joy allows you to connect on a deeper level.
Equanimity for me is being equally ok with either outcome. If things go the way I want, fine. If things don’t go the way I want, fine. It is the cessation of my innate demand for things to be a certain way. I am freed from my binary, right/wrong, black/white dichotomy of my life. I am fine in the middle where I am free to trust that it doesn’t really matter which way it goes. The lesson is coming and the packaging is really optional. I own and understand that I have always learned more from the negatively wrapped packages than I have the other more beautifully wrapped ones.
I pray for each of us to be granted the ability to love ourselves and each other truer and more deeply. I hope we can have the perfect vision which for me, encompasses loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. If have these for myself, I can have them for all of you.
May 2020 be the year we all learn to love ourselves more fully in order to bring more love to this broken world. May we all see that each of us can change the world by changing our lives to reflect the qualities most needed by all.
Happy 2020. Namaste!