Monday, July 6, 2009

A conversation with Grandmother

Last night I had a conversation with Grandmother, my Guide. I haven’t talked with her in quite a while, likely because of the serious depression I've been lost in for several months. I've only recently begun to come out of it.

With all the blessings in my life right now, how can I possibly be depressed? I even have a horse — the realization of a childhood dream! All this I know. So what on earth is going on?

When I went to bed last night I could perceive huge, empty space around me — not a threatening space, but vast, limitless, full of possibilities. I want the courage to let go and float on the tide of starlight into that space, but it’s terribly difficult. It feels like I’m hanging on for dear life to the shreds of business — busy-ness — here in my daily world. So I prayed from my soul for understanding and guidance.

About 3:30 in the morning I woke up with the realization of the depth of my terror at this moment. I am waiting for The Terrible Thing to happen. This is an undefined Terrible Thing, but for me, it feels like a certainty. There is too much good in my life right now — too many things are wonderful, too much luxury exists, I have too much time and too many resources. I mean, not having to work, and having a horse???! This is just too much to take in, too much to accept. Something Bad Will Happen. That’s the way things work.

Then I heard Grandmother’s question in my mind. How comforting it was just to “hear” her calm, measured “tones”:

“Can you receive?”

Receive? Oh yeah, the cosmic “receive.” Well, short answer: “NO!” I mean, no, for goodness sake, no!

“Why not?”

Well, duh, of course not! I haven’t done anything to deserve this!

“But you are.” She didn't bother to argue with me that I'm a good person, that I deserve good things, none of that. She just cut to the chase. She always does that, and at times like this, I hate it.

Ah. I “am.” The cosmic “am.” Yeah, right. No, I can’t just “receive.” It would be different if some person gave me something. Then maybe I could accept it, like if I had done something for them. But the Universe? No, I don’t think so!

“And why is that different?”

Her questions often make me squirm. Sheesh, I don’t know. It just is. Things don’t work that way. It just doesn’t work like that. Sorry, but it just doesn’t.

“Is this true?”

That prompted a “discussion” of what it might be like to be able to just accept what is at this moment and be happy. I had a flash of that feeling. Wow.... It would be so fantastic, so peaceful, such a lovely place to be. But it was just a flash, extinguished as soon as I perceived it.

Why is my resistance to this so strong? I mean, I have almost everything I could possibly want. How on earth can I still resist? It is true that, like everyone else, there are still some things I do lack, things I dearly, dearly wish I had in my life. But why do I cling to what I lack instead of focusing on what I have? It is weird, counterintuitive, destructive.

“Lack and unhappiness is all you know.” She used other “words” that were more subtle and explanatory, of course, and more nuanced. I’ve worked through huge emotional and psychological issues over the past few years, but this one remains, like bedrock.

I think it has a lot to do with what I absorbed from my mother — and maybe from the Motherline — about lack of nurture, about complete insecurity both emotional and physical, about the dangers of having to rely — financially or emotionally — on someone other than oneself. Mom was so clear about those dangers and deprivations. However I learned it, it’s my foundational “knowledge” about the way the world works, the way things are at the most fundamental level of my reality. How on earth does one go about changing this?

The way it works is so clear: as soon as I imaging trusting and receiving, I instinctively pull back, and the thought is, “something bad will happen and all this will go away.” There’s a distrust so deep that I can’t even get at it. It’s a part of me! I don’t see how I can change it….

Grandmother wouldn’t give up, though. “Can there be another way?”

I don’t know. I can try. I can try to focus on gratitude. I have an aunt, my mother’s sister, who shared much of that terrible childhood with my mother, and who has experienced tragedy in her life that would have killed most of us. She suggested one day that gratitude is how she survived. I am going this week to visit her; perhaps she can help me understand.

There was an instant of hope. But then I was back whining about what’s missing in my life, wondering how I can ever be happy without it. But Grandmother was tracking right along with me.

“Can you be happy without that?”

I genuinely don’t know. There are moments when I think I can; and there are moments of black despair when I know I cannot.

As Grandmother pointed out just before I went back to sleep, “Happiness comes from within.” Deep happiness can’t depend on another person or on something material; it has to be something essential, inner, arising from one’s soul. And that, I think, brings this discussion back full circle: “Can you receive?”

Wow…. Guess she’s assigned me my homework.


k said...

One of the hardest things for anyone to do, I think, is to be able to receive, to accept the good things in our lives gracefully. After all, if we have the good, there's nothing to rail against, nothing to fight to get away from, no catalyst to spur us to action. How many times do you hear someone tell a tale of good coming into their lives and then follow it up with some sort of caveat? It's a pandemic!

Gratitude is a simple exercise and one of the most complex. Yet it helps us hone in on what matters, to identify our values and see how they are manifest in our lives. It takes us to our core--away from what we "have" and toward what we "are."

Kay said...

Yes, I agree. And it is an "exercise," after all, which means it requires practice. I hate homework.