Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Child of These Roads II

Saturday, April 19 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

The doorbell rings. It's Stephanie, the woman who owns the house I rent here in Albuquerque.

"Can I talk to you for a minute?" she asks.

"Of course," I say.

"We're thinking of selling the house. If we worked with you, would you be open to leaving before your lease is up?"

Before I can stop my mouth, it says, "Sure."

If you read my most recent newsletter, you know that I had already felt called to leave at the end of the lease -- putting everything in storage and hitting the road...again, on an extended book tour into the midwest and east. (You also know from the newsletter that I only just landed here in late August after 30 months of full-time road travel.)

I hadn't planned to be gone from Albuquerque before summer's end. Frankly, I hadn't planned to resume my road odyssey. But that's the thing about plans. All we can do at the human level is make them, using the limited information available to us. Once we turn those plans over to a higher power (God, Spirit, the Universe, our Higher/God Self), anything can happen...and generally does.

When Stephanie leaves, I start to cry. Not because anything has changed. After all, this only advances my departure by, at most, a few months. No, I'm crying because everything has changed. A vague notion (my eastbound journey) has been validated, solidified and accelerated. Suddenly, it feels real, and a stew of conflicting emotions begins to roil up inside me.

A few hours later, as if to further consolidate the morning's revelations, I surrender to the possibility of (yet again) selling rather than storing many of my belongings.

Will this journey last only the few months I now foresee? Perhaps.

Will it be focused solely on talks, workshops, book-signings and book sales? Probably not.

Will it end, as I've intuited, in southern California? Maybe.

If there's one thing I've learned on my spiritual journey of surrender, it's that the reasons I intuit or make up for why I feel guided to do something rarely cover more than the tiniest surface of an ineffable complexity.

Put another way, my perception is limited to what I can figure out or imagine. Divine design is infinite in its scope and unknowable in its entirety. All I can do is the best I can do with the little I know and trust in the wondrous nature of the invisible.

Some days, that "all" feels like more than I can handle. On those days, I'm grateful for the granite solidity of the Sandia Mountains, which, since my first day in Albuquerque, have always helped ground me through the r-evolutionary changes of these r-evolutionary times.

I close my day with a walk in the Sandia foothills and, once again, know that through all that's asked of me, I'm always loved, protected and supported.

And all is well.

As for my fall tour of classes, workshops, talks and book-signings, I'm open to going anywhere east, north and/or south of here -- in the U.S. and into Canada. I'm also open to traveling into California later this summer. If you have any ideas or suggestions, or if you'd be interested in helping me organize and/or promote something in your area, I'd love to hear from you.

Photos by Mark David Gerson: #1 California SR-167 near Mono Lake; #2-4 Sandia foothills, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Monday, April 14, 2008

Death to the Ego? Not.

Monday, April 14 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

"Despise Fvorag and you despise a part of yourself. For we are all One in Prithi."
The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy

"Death to the Ego!" I've heard that war cry, so common in personal-growth circles, several times in recent days. And each time, it left me profoundly saddened.

You see, the oft-demonized ego doesn't deserve to die. No part of us deserves to die.

No part of us deserves to be dismissed...or dissed. All parts of us have value. All parts of us have worth. All parts of us are capable of growth and transformation. Of redemption.

Many writers and therapists would have you believe that the ego is some inner evil that must be cut off, stamped out and killed before we can move forward.

"Ego," I read the other day, "is the biggest — and perhaps the only — obstacle to true enlightenment. If we want to be free, if we want to be enlightened, we have to pay the price: death of the ego."

Not only is that view wrong-headed, it is damaging.

Certainly, the ego or "small self" can stand in the way of our evolution. Yet whatever else it is or does, it is still a part of our greater self, of our oneness. Of God.

God, however you define it, is made up of all the pieces of us — dark and light, evolved and not. God is not just the pieces we like or would prefer.

When we use phrases like "death of the ego," we're advocating an act of self-hatred and self-destruction that is not at all godlike.

How can we call for oneness in one breath and the destruction of a part of ourselves in the next? How can we preach love as the energy that creates and heals all when, in the same sentence, we preach hatred toward parts of ourselves?

If your arm is broken, do you cut it off because it's now a useless appendage? Or do you allow it to heal, lavishing extra love and energy upon it because of its weakened condition?

The ego is no less deserving of care and no less capable of healing and transformation.

I passionately believe that we are called to love, honor and respect all aspects of our beingness, not just the ones that behave in right/light ways.

We live in a throwaway culture, tossing out anything that's broken, a culture where imperfection is punished and misbehavior condemned. What have we become we that we're now throwing away bits of ourselves?

The ego is nothing more than a terrified, lesser-developed aspect of ourselves, a child-aspect that feels threatened by change it does not understand and so resists, often disruptively.

In many ways, it's like a fearful child. We don't kill our children when they don't act in a divine manner, when they're frightened and act out. We reassure them, we hold them, we love them. We make sure they know that they're safe.

Through these compassionate, godlike acts, we gently correct their failings and contribute to their growth and evolution, and to our own.

Our call is to do the same with the ego. Speaking of killing, expelling, conquering or controlling it is the antithesis of the Christed energy we claim we are seeking to embody.

Some might respond by saying that these are only words, that nothing is really being killed.

Perhaps. But language is not random. We choose our words, and these words reveal more about what we think and feel than we often realize. If we use words like "death" and "killing," than that truly is the consciousness we are projecting.

Oneness, too, is a consciousness, one that cannot thrive outside of us if it doesn't first thrive within. And it cannot thrive within if we reject even a single part of ourselves.

Oneness is an act of integration. Preaching death to the ego is the opposite: dis-integration.

The only path to enlightenment is the path of love. And the only path of love that has any value is the path that begins with self-love, with the love of our entire self — the wounded as well as the healed, the frightened as well as the fearless, the dark as well as the light.

Loving it doesn't free it to be in charge or hold us back. It does free it to have a voice, to express its fears, to cry for help in the only ways it knows how.

That same love frees you to embrace every part of you, to welcome home the ugly, wounded, frightened prodigal-child/ego and to live the fullness of a divinity and godliness that includes all aspects of your beingness.

I believe in you, in every part of you, and I love your darkness as well as your light. Won't you do the same for yourself?

This piece originally appeared in Mark David's newsletter. Read the full newsletter in its original format

Art by Mark David Gerson: Quantum Oneness (#112)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Spring Thaw

Tuesday, April 1 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

I open my eyes as the sun crests the Sandia Mountains and know that, whatever else I do today, I must drive to the summit.

I don't know how I know it. I don't know why I have to do it. I only know that I must.

It's 3 p.m. before I leave the house, and as I drive down Tramway Boulevard to I-40, I wonder if I've waited too long. You see, it's been three years since the only other time I've driven to the top and I can't remember how long it takes to get over to the east side of the mountain and make the 5,000-foot climb.

In fact, all I remember about that February drive is that it was winter, the snow was thick and heavy on the roadside slopes, and the wind at the summit was so cold and bitter that all I could do was run out for a lightning-quick glimpse at the view from 10,000+ feet and dash back into the car.

Albuquerque was one of my earliest stops three years ago when I left Sedona in the wake of my marriage break-up. And my summit drive was one of the first things I did when I got here.

As I drive the winding road today, past the rocky bluffs and sentinal stands of pine, the first thing that strikes me is the lack of snow. "Of course," I say, "it's April. Most of the snow has melted."

And then I get it. On my first drive up here, I was as frozen as the landscape, numb from the pain of a broken relationship.

Today, the spring thaw is mine as well. No longer locked in the icy stasis of winter, my heart has melted into openness, its soil as soft, yielding and ready for new growth as the thousands of acres that surround me here.

The summit, too, is more welcoming than it was three years ago. And as I gaze east toward my origins and west toward what I sense awaits me next, I know that I'm readier to move forward than ever before, whatever that means -- in work, in love and in life.

Sandia photos by Mark David Gerson

Red Rock Resurrection

Sunday, March 23 ~ Sedona, Arizona

It's noon on Easter and well past time to leave Sedona and begin the six-and-a-half-hour drive back to Albuquerque.

As I pull out of Ravenheart Coffee's parking lot from a dizzying meeting with my tax person, part of me really wants to drive up to the lookout atop Airport Mesa and take in the city that was twice my home. But it's late, there's a long journey ahead and I need to get going. So I do.

An hour passes. I'm on I-40 east of Flagstaff when I suddenly realize that I've left a sweater in my Sedona hotel room.

Not a big deal. Someone can pick it up for me and I'll retrieve it when I'm in Sedona again in September.

I call the hotel, only to be told that I've left not only the sweater but also a garment bag.

In nearly three years of full-time travel and hotel living, I never left clothes behind. How did I forget half of them today!?

I shrug, turn around at the next exit and head back.

Ninety minutes later, I'm in the hotel parking lot, all my missing pieces retrieved and accounted for.

All but one.

The still-missing piece is Sedona itself.

Forty months ago, when my marriage ended suddenly, so did my relationship with this amazingly beautiful and powerfully transformative place.

Although I returned frequently to visit my daughter, the profound feelings of connectedness that twice drew me here to live did not. Each return visit carried an emotional charge as weighted as Sedona's signature red rocks. Each departure, more bitter than sweet.

As I sit in the parking lot, I realize that it was Sedona, not forgotten luggage, that called me back...called me back to reclaim a part of myself that never left.

Perhaps had I listened to Sedona's noontime call, I wouldn't have had to turn around. No matter. I'm here now and I resolve to stay until she's done with me.

She's not asking much, just a short drive to revisit a few favorite spots and vistas...just a brief circuit to reconnect her energy with mine.

And so I drive up through Soldiers Pass, past Thunder Mountain and, finally, to the majestic view from the Airport Mesa lookout. As I do, the part of my heart that shut Sedona out 40 months ago begins to crack open again.

Sedona is where my heart opened to let in one relationship, then shuttered when that relationship ended. Today, as I look down over the jewel of a city where so much of my emotional life has played out, an unexpected healing occurs. In this moment, I sense a new chapter beginning and feel the freeing up that will allow another intimate relationship into my life.

There are so many other places to revisit -- Cathedral Rock and Courthouse Butte, Long Canyon and Red Rock Crossing. But it's 4 p.m. already and I'll lose another hour with the time change back into New Mexico.

Besides, Sedona is done with me...for today. As she did once before, she has prepared me for love.

This departure is all sweet. The "forgotten" items that drew me back have triggered an Easter resurrection that I won't soon forget.

Sedona photos by Mark David Gerson