Our company has some amazing core values and the really beautiful thing about them is that we as a group developed them when we were first starting out. One core value, however, gratitude, was added after the group process. At first I was hesitant to add it, not because I do not believe gratitude is important, but because I felt by adding it we would be saying we expected gratitude and that felt strange to me. I want to own that this was solely my interpretation.
Since then I have a very different understanding of gratitude and am so thankful it is part of our core values. My feeling now is that it is not about expecting people to feel gratitude, and honestly I feel someone else’s experience with gratitude is really none of my business. It is about creating my own amazing life experience through practicing gratitude.
I have a gratitude practice I started a long time ago, I strive each day (usually in the shower, since I can’t sing) to recite all that I am grateful for. I always start with the people and experiences that have given me the most angst, discomfort or challenge from the previous day. I feel those experiences and people were gifts given to me to either; recognize some aspect of myself I loathe, to provide me the opportunity to learn a lesson I have been reluctant to receive, or to provide insight for a later experience along my journey. This is not easy but I find it is essential to my well-being. I also feel if I reject these gifts they will continue to be offered until I do accept them or even worst may not be offered again for some time, leaving me stuck in a rut.
One thing I have kept in mind during the past year is all the things that I am grateful for, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in who or what doesn’t feel good or right. However, I realize all the challenging events in my life have served a valuable purpose in helping me become the person I am. I often wonder what would my life look like if I had not experienced some of the more difficult episodes. It is almost like polishing a rock, it is a rough and brutal process but in the end out comes a beautiful shimmering gemstone.
I think of it this way, we are all born naked and pure, our life is complete possibility and potential. As we go through life we cloak ourselves with certain fabrics and tools we need to survive. I see the early part of our lives as the period when we acquire these objects of survival. Then I believe we come to a point in our lives, where we have to make a decision. Do we continue carrying these cloaks, tools and supplies or do we trust that we can shed these because we have finally reached the promised land and no longer need these to survive the journey?
I believe this is where we are faced with the most important choice in our lives and it truly shapes our journey from this point on. There is no right or wrong answer or path, it is simply how we choose to go from here. I am at this point in my journey. I have to say it has been the most powerfully rewarding and frightening process I have been through so far.
The reward is shedding the extra load, simplifying. I did not necessarily get to this point willingly. Over the past year my cloak, tools and supplies were stripped out of necessity, I did not have the strength to carry them anymore. I was like a hot air balloon losing my buoyancy I had to cut ballast to continue on my flight path. My family needed me and I knew I could not be there for them if I carried all this weight.
So here I was stripped naked and fully exposed before my peers. It is a very humbling, scary and also enlightening experience to be stripped down to your purest, most raw state of being. I could no longer keep up my defenses, I had to speak in truths I did not have the energy or desire to cover up my self-perceived warts. As my amazing ontological coach says, I was way out on the skinny branches of the tree. As I sat with my dad during his last days there was no room for anything but authentic, transparent discussion. How would anything but that serve us now?
I have heard people say after profound experiences; the food tasted better, the sun was brighter, colors were more vivid. I thought I understood that and had experienced it myself and maybe to a certain degree I did. However, what I am experiencing now is very new to me. My sense is that I cannot properly explain it without feeling I am making a mockery of the experience or not treating it with the proper reverence it deserves. So please bear with me as I fumble through this because I feel it is worthy of sharing and may be of value.
My senses feel fully engaged, the filters I put in place, which served me well, I don’t feel I need them right now. They are getting a well deserved rest, they will still be with me, but are dormant for now. I experience people, events and encounters differently, I am becoming, as Eckart Tolle says, “intensely present.” Most of the time it feels magnificent, I feel light, but it has also felt uncomfortable particularly when I am with people or experiences that previously I had my filters on in full force. What will their reactions to me be now? How will I handle it if someone is deeply uncomfortable with how I am being? Do I have the strength and courage to continue on this uncharted path?
I believe I will continue and at times I will stumble, skin a knee, fall off the path or I will tire due to the steep incline and rough terrain, but I will proceed with gratitude that I chose this path. It’s funny how hiking really is an interesting metaphor for life. We can continue hiking the same path or a well-worn path and that’s not all bad, you know what to expect and occasionally you see something new, or you can take an unfamiliar path and while filled with trepidation, unexplored worlds and knowledge awaits you.
So I go forth with gratitude and appreciation for what brought me here and what keeps me moving forward into unfamiliar but glorious territory.
Posted on December 4, 2011, in Spiritual Journey and tagged burden, enlilghtened, exposed, grateful, gratitude, hike, journey, ontological, ontological coach, presence. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.