Saturday, July 25, 2015

Pits and Cherries - Lessons Learned Lately

"Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know." (Pema Chodron)

At least once every summer, I buy a big bag of cherries and eagerly bring them home to feast on. Whether they are Rainier cherries, sunny and bright, or Bings, dark and seductive, I can't wait to pop them in my mouth - taste their sweetness - and then suck every bit of it off the pit, before tossing it away and happily grabbing another. A sublime summer treat.

But my "eyes are always bigger than my stomach" (as my Mom would tell me many moons ago). I buy too many for us to eat, and so the leftovers sit - orphaned in our refrigerator - until I decide it's time to pit them and freeze them for our smoothies. Sounds practical and responsible, doesn't it? The problem is it's a tedious job - one I tend to put off until I absolutely can't.

So, there I was this morning, slicing the slippery spheres - prying out the stubborn stones with my crimson-stained fingers - one by one - and muttering "Just don't cut yourself, buster!".  Part of me wondered "Why didn't you learn your lesson and not buy so many?", while another voice replied, "Well, it's worth it. You'll enjoy these later".  And in the midst of all this "chatter", a bigger thought came to me.

Pits and Cherries. Hard things that we try to avoid, yet they come with sweet fruit. You only get the latter when you have agreed to accept the former, and been willing to work with it.

What are the "Pits and Cherries" that Life has brought my way? The lessons that have been challenging to learn - often repeated again and again - yet if I've persevered, have been of great value? Some came to mind as I toiled in the kitchen.

1.  "I'm not responsible for anyone else's happiness or unhappiness": This has been a difficult one for me to learn. Over the years, I've slowly seen a part of Jon that is always trying to do just that: take responsibility for how others are feeling - and then scurry to "make it all better" or feel bad when it can't. That's "the pit". But what Life offers in exchange -"the cherry"-  as I see the futility of this, is the opportunity to live my own life. Free to share all, but responsible only for seeing what moves me inwardly. It's funny how that kind of freedom can seem so "scary" at times. but is in reality a great gift.

2.  "Real growth is never predictable or without discomfort.": I've been reminded of this lately as I've been working out more, trying to get stronger and fitter again. After 3 weeks I hit a "plateau" and wasn't improving as much as earlier, and I got a little discouraged. But I pushed on and worked to remember the above lesson, which is easy to forget. Nothing of real value, physically or inwardly, is gained without doing some real Work. Being willing to feel face a limitation honestly - and to do what a part of me says 'I don't want to do". That feels like "the pits". But the treasure received in exchange is the knowledge that the only thing that stands in my way is "Me". And that "Me" is nothing but a dated thought, image, or belief that proves to be tissue thin in the face of a simple willingness to persist.

3.  "Love isn't about holding on. It's about learning to let go.": I know this is a paraphrase of something I've heard Guy say many times, in many different ways, in talks at the Foundation. But the truth of it has taken awhile to sink in for me. Nothing in Life is permanent, yet I know something in me is always looking to grab and hold on to pieces of life as if they were. Whether in relationships, my career, or an image of myself - always trying to "keep it in place"...always a little worried when something that seemed strong and secure, seems to fade. And where's the Love in that? Real Love is Timeless. Therefore Real Love is never about acquiring, but instead about giving itself away. Because it knows in doing so it will always be renewed.  The more given, the more received. Holding on can be a "small" act - born of fear. Letting go is a generous act - a real expression of Love. I'm reminded again of something that Guy said about the nature of Real Love that I've never forgotten: "Even in your absence, I can feel your presence".

Funny how a simple bowl of cherries this morning sparked all of this!  I guess you just never know where another one of Life's "Pearls" will turn up. Hope I keep remembering to pay attention - and to be willing to work to keep learning - especially "the hard stuff". That's where the real treasures lie. (like chocolate covered cherries - Man, I love those!)

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