What are you, anyway?

April 30, 2008

...for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Genesis 3:19

As we move from old thinking of limitation, lack and unworthiness, we find our outer world reflects our new inner mindset. Tired, self-deprecating slogans and even doctrine, saw our ancestors struggle with their own self-worth in a world which reflected unrest and, in some cases, spiritual vacancy. Setting aside the ultimate question of "who am I?" and focusing more on "what am I?" we bring into focus not only our role in this lifetime, but force ourselves to examine and review our lives through several spiritual pointers.

You are what you eat
We’ve heard this a thousand times from diet gurus, super models and even our own family. Apparently we choose either to emulate an airy donut or a solid stalk of celery, according to this sentiment. Simply put, the quality of the input relates to the quality of our life structure. Also found in the early stages of the "computer age," the term GIGO or "garbage in, garbage out" correlated the literal functioning logic within the workings of the computer. The computer only processes what it receives and if the input material falters, so, too, the results.

Taken a step further, food and other input, like our thoughts and words, assimilate into a real part of us. Whether cellular or spiritual, our bodies and life reflect that which we ingest. Feeding ourselves good thoughts, strong in conviction and connection to the Infinte, sustains our earthly existence and builds a solid conviction on which to base our life experience. A cute but wisely cautious cliché begs us to pay attention to the words we choose to use, for someday we may have to eat them. Thoughts affect us similarly, and more and more, the acknowledged power of our thoughts gains recognition as a desirable and constructive means to impact and improve our lives.

What are you afraid of?
Ever since Freud brought to popularity the various phobias defined in his early studies in psychoanalysis, fears dictate our behavior in many respects. Certainly arguments for limitation, our apprehensions bubble to the surface to remind us that we teeter on the cliff of reticence or even terror when facing the dreaded situation. Perhaps our mind plays tricks on us and we move merrily through life when - whoops! – our fears serve as tour guides for our boundaries and we remember to remain consistent with our stated anxieties. Imagine your freedom to do whatever you wanted to do, free from the pesky elephant-memory of habits that remind you to shiver in fear!

Fear serves some purpose, in a real way. It makes sense to fear an oncoming tornado or hurricane, or a raging fire. I often say, "I'm not afraid of heights, I'm afraid of falling," when people invite me to climb a local mountain trail. Our fears, logical or irrational, serve as protection from forces outside of ourselves. But what about the fear that lives inside of us? Do we confront our fear of success, for instance, only to realize a self-fulfilling prophecy, or do we complacently give in to it, living out a status quo existence - as if only those two options exist. What if you set aside your internal fears instead of confronting them, ignored them instead of carving out your path around them, or let them exist as a separate part of you, blessing them for providing you with a necessary yellow-light to take precautions when you dare to look inward towards your authentic self? Examine what frightens you in both your internal and external world, acknowledge the existence of each fear and then bless it for trying to protect you. Life isn’t all that scary, really!

What are you holding on to?
In one of his most endearing recollections, the late Leo Buscaglia recounted an interaction with his mother while on her deathbed. He held her hand as she lay unconscious, and wept at her impending passing. She awakened briefly to find her son in a state of desperation, clasping her hand as if to cling to the life within her. She looked up at him and said, "Felice, what are you holding on to?"

We hold on to our loved ones as long as we can, not for their benefit, but mostly for our own comfort. We hold onto possessions, too. But mostly, we merge our thoughts and thinking patterns into habits which then morph into our identity. We run on spin cycle to former ways of thinking, to opinions and problem-solving methods. The list goes on. We find comfort in the same-old thoughts and argue desperately to stay stuck in the ruts of our beliefs. Its time we asked ourselves "what are you holding on to?" in order to give ourselves permission to let go of our past and move forward into the newness of life. Spirit celebrates with you when you let go of the hand of history and wave in a willingness to move freely within the possibilities of your life.

What are you waiting for?
The renowned Jewish sage and scholar, Hillel the Elder, died in Jerusalem in the first century AD. Best known for his expression of the ethic of reciprocity, or "Golden Rule," Hillel also holds his place in history for declaring, "If not now, when?" From these few simple words, we gain insight into human nature, that neither time nor experience could change. Even several thousand years ago, people procrastinated!

The staggering smugness of believing our earthly experience is infinite, leads us all down the path of "I’ll do it later," or "there's always tomorrow." We happily put off chores we dislike for a later time, but why risk telling someone we love them "tomorrow?" Goals, dreams and ideals, often postponed in deference to our family, our children, our myriad other excuses, risk dying with us. We secretly hope for the perfect time and circumstance to rise forth in front of us and slap us into action, yet it never appears. Bargaining with life itself, we placate ourselves into thinking that everything must be just right in order for our greater good to initiate in our lives – only then are we free to act. The real challenge lies not in figuring out how your life should look when life presents itself as safe to proceed – that's just flexing the muscles of your excuses. The true dare comes when you dive into the pool of possibilities – right now – and experience the goodness life offers you. God says yes to you today, or tomorrow, or next year. You get to decide when – why not now?

So, what are you, anyway? More than the physical collection of bodily cells determined by DNA and chromosomes, we dog-paddle through life searching for a bone of our true selves. We are not our food or words. Our fears and instincts don’t define us. Things we cling to exist outside of our being and our postponement of good doesn’t serve or describe us, either. When we connect with the Infinite we discover our true being. And unlike the "dust" of Genesis, you were born a magnificent expression of God and so shall you remain.

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