Sunday, March 21, 2010

NOT Words No More

     Ok, I think anyone who has followed these little blogs, will quickly realize that I am NOT Martha Stewart. Simple things like “boil” and “broil” continue to elude me. Which one is on top of the stove? Which one goes inside the stove? Sounds simple to most. It is a foreign and unpracticed language for me.
     The same applies to directions. North? South? Forget it. I require land marks and a dry run to any place new before I actually have to make the trip. Helpful directions like “if you cross the bridge you’ve gone too far” are not helpful-they assume you are actually going in the direction where there might be a bridge. Don’t ask how I know this truth. I imagine that when someone gives me directions I become the equivalent of a spinning hour glass and a message board running across my forehead with the message “program not responding.”
     When I’m out and about I have a faithful network of friends who have memorized all the locations of convenience stores. They leave their cell phones on, waiting for the little southern voice to come across the Minnesota phone lines with the usual sigh of despair and the “Yep, again.” They are kind, and unless it is a really good “lost” they manage to wait until I hang up to laugh. GPS has been a blessing but at times I still manage to outwit the computer.
     What is interesting are the emotions that boil (broil?) up inside me when I get lost. I should know better, I should be able to do this and the various litanies of self deprecating remarks. Which leads me to today’s musing (I warned you about the bridge). How much of what I know is not what I know as it is what I’ve told myself I am or 'am not'?
     There’s a concept in Buddhism that translates “fearlessness” into “doubtless” or “doubtlessness.” The idea in the translation is that one can be fearless, embrace the courage of a lion, go forth into battle and still have doubts. But if one is doubtless, turns away all doubt, that is the true foundation from which pure fearlessness can emerge. Fear is not necessarily a bad thing. Doubt can erode the soul and you never see it coming. Doubt is like those huge sink holes that swallow up houses. The earth was moving, changing and sinking all along. But in our minds, it just happened, out of nowhere, or without any warning the event occurred. In reality, the erosion was taking place all along, we just didn’t see it. That’s doubt. The reality is, wherever you point doubt, erosion will occur and undermine everything. The absence of doubt feeds fearlessness in its most powerful and non aggressive form. You simply, have no doubt.
     I’ve begun a journey much like swimmers experience in a racing pool. Their lanes are marked separating them from the other racers yet they share the same water, their laps are individual, unique and timed and yet they traverse the same pool. My journey is much the same, I’m charting new territory, unknown, separated and defined differently than the roads I’ve traveled before. Yet, like the swimmer, my journey, in part, is not so new. The newness is perhaps only in my recognition, finally, of where I’ve been. Different, unique, uncharted and yet familiar in the recognition that I have not so much “changed” as recognized what has been, what was there all along.
     Like the swimmers’ race, the distinction of “fearlessness” and “doubtlessness” is recognition of what is (the sameness), defined by what it is not. I do not know the grammatical term, but both are “not” words and you have to understand the base word in order to understand the “not” word. You are in the same pool, sharing the same water, you repeat the lane over and over, the only difference is that this lap is “not” that lap. If you don’t understand that then the swimmers appear to be mad, the equivalent of Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
     I really like the distinction between fearlessness and doubtless. I prefer the strength of doubtless. But, I do not want to concentrate on a “not” this. I no longer want to think in terms of “not this” and “not that.” I want a concept that says “what is.” The not words have distracted me for too long. They are good words, but now I need to see what is. When I am at the Gulf, I can stare at the waves in the blackness of the night. I hear the waves but do not see their white caps or swells. I see nothing and yet the image of the gulf is made visible by its sound, what is.
     My life can be and is getting fearless. I am nurturing doubtlessness, but like the invisible waves, my strength and power will be in the sound of my voice. By that strength and courage you will know me-even in the black of night. I will stick with Hope as the sound of the waves, constant, surging, spilling themselves completely upon the beach, retreating and returning to bear new treasures. I am still under construction, so beware of the unexpected splash. Hope is strong but always playful. Hope shall be my “is” word, my new compass. It will no longer be about where I am NOT, as it is focused on where I AM, where I ‘be.’ And for that, there is not better GPS than my heart.