More Everyday Joy

being awake

By January 25, 2014 14 Comments

waves photo

One of the 5 reflection questions I offered to you for the new year, and that I’m thinking about for myself is:

What have you always believed about yourself that life is showing you might not be true?

I love this question. More precisely, I love these moments when we are able to see that something we’ve always believed about ourselves might not be true.

Those moments can be rare. Most of the time, what we believe about ourselves colors what we see in our life experience. If we believe we’re incompetent with numbers, that’s what we see play out in our life experience. If we believe we’re mediocre parents, that’s what we see evidence for. If we believe we “never get angry,” we see evidence for that. It’s the very nature of belief: it causes us to notice certain truths in the landscape of reality, and to be utterly blind to others.

So it’s very unusual that we truly see something in life that conflicts with our beliefs. It’s a kind of unique moment of confrontation with reality and of growth.

When it happens, it happens for one of two reasons. Sometimes, life confronts us with something that conflicts with our beliefs so clearly that we get hit over the head with the new truth. When that dramatic move from life (you thought you were x, but life is clearly giving you evidence you are y!) coincides with some meager measure of openness in us, we can see a new truth about ourselves.

But more often, and in fact in every moment, the truths about ourselves that life offers us are quieter, more subtle. To see those, we need to be looking at life, to have found a sliver of non-defensiveness in ourselves through which we’re able to see what life is really showing us. And we must be present enough to see what is happening in front of us right now – rather than seeing our old stories play out again and again as we project them onto the complex canvas of life.

How can we live awake like this, so that our lives are less and less a deadened re-run of old beliefs (re-runs are so boring) and more an alive unfolding in which we keep learning, growing, and staying fluid – fluid as life itself?

This is the same question as: how can I accelerate my growth? It is the same question as: how can my life get more interesting? How can it become a great adventure?

I think it begins with caring about that, with caring about being open to and present to life. We have to decide that we want to live in that way.

Then we do what it takes, which is moving slow enough — moving slow even in the midst of a busy day (it’s possible, it’s an inner move) — to pay attention to what is happening before us. Moving slow enough to reflect on what is happening. We move slow enough to notice what we are feeling and to follow the discomfort or exhileration or panic or sense of messiness that comes up when we are confronted with a truth about ourselves, positive or negative, that conflicts with what we believe.

And we have to nourish our hearts enough – with comfort and love from others and self-love – so that our hearts have room to be open to truths that may feel challenging and vulnerable when we first look at them. We have to have the emotional reserves to look.

When we do that, life becomes our teacher. Gentle, graceful, ever unfolding, complex. That infinitely pixelated canvas of life illuminates and no moment remains mundane.



Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Lindsey says:

    I love this. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never considered this question before. Must think about it and try to see my life without the sharp lenses of my preconceptions.

  • Laurie says:

    Beautiful. I loved reading this. Thank you for the food for thought!

  • melinda says:

    One of your most brilliant posts yet. Thank you!

  • Andrea Scher says:

    Such beautiful wisdom coming through you Tara… Just exquisite.

  • Donna Davis says:

    Hello Tara:

    This was a uniquely beautiful, insightful, profound meditation.

    We have been told, “To get different, you have to do different.” “Only radical change is effective.” “You cannot put new wine in old bottles.” “To change your life, you have to first change your story.”

    Such a lot of (busy) work! So much CONTROL and PREPARATION. But nothing has WORKED.

    You are saying, look, think, feel, open, respond. “Behold, I make everything new.”
    What do I really feel now? What do I really see?

    I personally am so haunted by BEEN THERE, DONE THAT(And failed at it).

    In fact Donna has not been here, today, and to do this.

    There is no omnipotent “I” battling from a command post in the centre of the storm. The eye of the storm is a no-thing, open, still, receptive, sacred space.

    Imagine, playfully, the Wizard of Oz…who was no Real Wizard…but a perception…

    You are saying that the truth may hurt, of course. But to admit vulnerability, to see and receive is release from the endless urge to struggle.

    Thank you again, Tara. May God bless you in your work and in your beautiful child.


  • Grace says:

    Such a fascinating perspective. This reality and acceptance challenges the popular notion of “believe in yourself and you can do it.” Really questions to what extent you must keep on believing and when to accept that you’re not who you think you are – which isn’t exactly the fairy tale portrayal. Lovely read.

  • Heather says:

    Dear Tara:
    Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and knowing. We all benefit by being enlightened. Let my flashlight shine on the blocks holding me back.

  • I love the way you address the subtlety of this realization. Your poetic lead in makes it easier to understand what it is that happens when we uncover this part of ourselves. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Love, Jeanne

  • Maria Wynen says:

    Hi Tara, this post is penetrating and so powerful. I don’t know how you manage to discern and then express the fundamental truths about life so accurately and clearly, but thank you so much for doing this work, and then sharing it so it helps so many more of us. This is fabulous work you are doing – bless you and yours always.

  • Cyndi says:

    A perfect Sunday morning read! When you live a seemingly hectic fast paced lifestyle, you sometimes forget to breathe. Your writing is like a comfortable deep breath. Thanks, Tara.

  • Betty says:

    Wow!!! Profound! Thank you so much.

    The best read yet.


  • Deniz Turkcu says:

    Such a post, made me cry after a harsh evening for me. I have first realized to own my power within and say my own expertise out loud and express myself even though I am not a certified expert on my topic. However, tonight I got a confrontation from a loved one judging me that I know loads about everything but not specifically about one thing, and business world only considers consistent and specified information. Sounded like blah blah to me but maybe it was true in many ways maybe its a way for me to open up. Now I am reading this and thinking and feeling that maybe I should open up more to a more adventurous life , maybe I didn’t accept my expertise. Maybe life is not too complex when I dare more. Thank you Tara that released some discomfort in many ways..

  • Tammie B. says:

    Tara, Wow! You have a beautiful way with words. I love reading and contemplating your inspiring messages. Thank you!

  • Maggie says:

    Beautiful message…yes, but I also look at the differences between reality and the sublime…for example the indifferences between the positive and negative influences that the life path on which we encounter on meeting basic needs and in place..there always seems to be these problems and there solutions that must be could be going along feeling happy , nothing troubling you and there it is the same need..your fine the rest of the world isn’t. do we stay positive..Tara thanks.

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