I often remind people on retreat, this is real too. You are here, right now, and each one of us is real. This experience is happening. On one retreat, our facilitator suggested that when we take the time to immerse ourselves more deeply in our meditation and writing practices, that we are more in touch with what’s real. I think she’s right. When we take the time to step away from the madness of the outside world and connect within, with our essential goodness, our wisdom, our guidance, that’s what’s real. Not the many voices shouting at us or the steady stream of information bombarding us, but rather in that place where we have a chance, a hope of discerning for ourselves what resonates, what feels real.
We seem to have this idea that real life is hard. “Real life” is work, suffering, fighting, war, and pain. And that anything other than that is somehow a dream or fantasy state. No! And, yes. Real life does include all of the hard and painful things, and we can't turn a blind eye to them. And, there's more... the hard and painful does not negate the beautiful and soft. Real life is so much more than an either/or proposition! We cannot know immense joy or deep love without also knowing profound sadness.
Real life also includes quiet, stillness, beauty, and contemplation. It includes time dedicated to fun or reflection. Real life can be connecting with yourself and spending time on the things that deeply matter to you. Real life is falling over yourself, madly, deeply in love with another or laughing til the tears fly. Real life is watching a baby sleep or holding your dying mother's hand.
Real life doesn’t get much more real than the beauty of a forsythia coming into bloom, a hawk soaring across the blue sky, or the orange-pink canvas of the sun dipping below the horizon. Nature exists beyond and in spite of our man-made constructs.
Some beautiful questions to ponder…
What if more of us realized and created real lives that were inspired, creative, peaceful, joyful, and loving? What if kindness and gentleness were the values that ruled “real life?” What if that were enough? What if that were more than enough and these qualities rippled out far and wide?
What if we dispelled the myth that real life sucks, is a heavy burden to be endured, and showed up to contribute to a better life? What if we realized that together we are creating the real life that we experience and that how we show up matters? That our actions matter? That our choices matter? Maybe then we could actually come together to work on things that need our loving care – things like the climate crisis, social injustice, the opioid epidemic, homelessness, and poverty.
I guess we also need to remember that each one of us lives our own version of reality, influenced by the very tiny lens and unique filter through which we see and experience what’s going on. Know that each of us has been informed by our parents, our experiences, and our teachers. We each have biases that drive our beliefs and behaviors. Maybe then we could get curious and genuinely desire to know what’s going on in your version of reality. We could ask one another engaging questions, seeking clarity, seeking to understand, not necessarily to change our minds or views, but willing to do so. We could listen. Really listen – not to respond, but to hear, to consider, to wonder.
Life is messy. Human is messy. And, real life encompasses it all. If I might invite in another R idea... may we have reverence for the complexity of it all.
What do you think? Maybe I got swept away by yesterday’s post about Questions, but I can’t help but feel the possibility that wondering opens up. The freedom that comes when we unbury ourselves from the heaviness that we have believed “real life” to be. What thoughts do you have about reality, real life, and retreat? Thanks for considering today's #AtoZChallenge reflection!