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Choose Your Own Adventure

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“It can be discouraging to discover how quickly you lose your inner peace. Someone who happens to enter your life can suddenly create restlessness and anxiety in you. Sometimes this feeling is there before you fully realize it. You thought you were centered; you thought you could trust yourself; you thought you could stay with God. But then someone you do not even know immediately makes you feel insecure. You ask yourself whether you are loved or not, and that stranger becomes the criterion. Thus you start feeling disillusioned by your own reaction.

Don’t whip yourself for your lack of spiritual progress. If you do, you will easily be pulled even further away from your center. You will damage yourself and make it more difficult to come home again. It is obviously good not to act on your sudden emotions. But you don’t have to repress them, either. You can acknowledge them and let them pass by. In a certain sense, you have to befriend them so that you do not become their victim.

The way to “victory” is not trying to overcome you dispiriting emotions directly but in building a deeper sense of safety and at-homeness and a more incarnate knowledge that you are deeply loved. Then, little by little, you will stop giving so much power to strangers.

Do not be discouraged. Be sure that God will truly fulfill all you needs. Keep remembering that. It will help you not to expect that fulfillment from people who you already know are incapable of giving it.”

~ Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Loving

The only connection we need ever rely on is our connection with God. The light is always there no matter how dark it might seem. We have to choose faith and gratitude over fear and lack. It truly feels like a form of ungratefulness to walk around looking for validation in the world at large. “Well I know God loves me but that isn’t enough. I need more than I’ve been given. This shirt will give me the attention I need. Perhaps a shinier car. Maybe this gas station clerk will laugh at my joke and validate my existence.” LOL Can you relate?

It’s our fragile ego who needs and wants that attention, not our higher self. When we are living for validation we stop accepting the present moment as it is and that’s when our emotions make it possible to go off the rails, if we choose to believe the illusion. We could also choose to remember how much we are loved by God and let that other fearful self serving product of the mind move on down the road. And there you are. Still standing. Feeling centered and connected. Still loved.

It is a lack of faith in God’s plan that leads us to worry and fear. It is always our choice. I know that when I return to the heart and choose to stop controlling the moment with emotional manipulation (fear, anger, jealousy, etc), I feel myself lifted up, walking a path without focusing on each step along the way. I find the faith to walk through the fear and knowing that God’s love will guide me if I just let it happen.

And if I lose that fight and fall “victim” to fear….now I know I’m not alone in that battle. That thought lifts me back up so that I might return to the present moment and choose to surrender to God’s plan. Stand up and get back on the path. No wonder “Choose Your Own Adventure” books were so popular when I was a kid. Who knew it was a sort of preparation for life?

Which path will you choose? You can choose the path that leads to battle or you can choose the path that leads to peace. I choose to know that God’s love is all I ever need to continue the adventure. I choose the path of least resistance. Remember that you are always loved.

Imagination Is Freedom – Let’s Play!

“The other day I watched a child playing. She and her invisible friends were apparently on some kind of inter-planetary expedition. Their spaceship was an empty soda can. They sped through space on high adventure, complete with all the sounds you’d expect from intergalactic travelers. I thought to myself: if I were outside doing this, city officials would come for me and take me away where I could not harm myself or others. And so I mused—how does this kind of play disappear in most people, somewhere between childhood and geezerhood? It goes away, I think, as we are told to “grow up,” with manifestations like study, get serious, and make a living. All necessary in their own way, but they should never have been permitted to eliminate play. My stick horse approves this message.”

An important person in my life posted this great observation online the other day.  He likes to talk about himself as being a “geezer” when in fact he probably gets around more in his life now that he’s reached “geezer” status than most teenagers do in their prime. 🙂

My observation aside, his question got me thinking this morning about how often I really allow myself to play. What do I think is really going on when a kid is playing like described above and could I play like that as an adult? When I think back to my days as a kid playing in my room or on the playground, I remember the grand adventures that inhabited my mind.  I remember rescuing my GI Joe figures from a bottomless pit on our stairwell or even braving the icy cold of the Hoth Planet acting as a Rebel Soldier at recess in grade school. Stormtroopers at 6 o’clock! Get’em! When looking at this sort of imaginative play from an adult perspective I see a level of self trust and fearless joy happening that I am imagine would take a bit of personal persuasion in myself to conjure up these days. So what’s the major difference between then and now? As my friend asked, when and how does this type of play disappear? I think we’re on to something revealing here.

For me, I think it’s about consciousness, or rather self-consciousness and codependency. Back then I wasn’t worried about what other people were going to say if they saw me enjoying myself no matter what I was doing. Why? Can you imagine playing like this now? As my friend said so well “if I were outside doing this, city officials would come for me and take me away where I could not harm myself or others. ” As adults we don’t often feel like we have permission to really play for fear of disapproval in some form. As a kid we were CONSTANTLY being told “GO PLAY!” Not only did we have permission to play as a kid we were ordered! The adults in our lives might have really just wanted us out of their hair for a bit but they were doing us a great service by giving us permission to go play. That is until we grew up.

As adults we are responsible for our own happiness and well being. There is no one who is going to tell us to GO PLAY. If we want to play we have to do it of our own accord. Many of us are in the middle of uncovering old patterns from childhood and, if you think about it, co-dependency plays right into that idea of wanting permission to GO PLAY. Even more so, what if we do make that decision to play on our own and then someone sees us? We didn’t have permission to enjoy ourselves did we? Will we be judged? We’re adults now. Society frowns upon adults who act like children and what do children do more than anything else? PLAY.

It’s funny but I just remembered that my son watches these videos online of other people playing video games that are hugely popular called “Let’s Play” videos. Could it be that even our children are starting to lose some of the freedom and child like sense of play at a younger age due to the fact they are more exposed to grown up ideas at a younger age? Is there more watching of play rather than actual playing happening in our kid’s lives? Hopefully not but it is something to think about.

I think we all need more PLAY in our lives. The more we PLAY, the more we inhabit our own reality in a conscious and independent manner. We face our fears without a thought. We forget about our illusionary worries. We reconnect with our child like souls the way they long to be loved. We grow stronger and more confident and isn’t that what many of us are working on right now in this “Second Half” of our lives?

We all have plenty of time in our lives to include real PLAY. Yes we do! Star by giving yourself permission. Not sure how to start playing? Just think about how you used to PLAY as a kid. You can’t get it wrong.  Just thinking about playing starts opening you up to all sorts of personal FREEDOM. Let your imagination take it from there and be fearless.

How will you PLAY today?