Friday, November 11, 2011

the other direction

When the fearless step comes calling
You’ll be ready if you listen
To the voice heard in prayer
To a steady invitation
And though times may be hard
And the week behind was painful
He won't ask us to shoulder
A weight too much to carry
I don’t believe in God. Not in the man-in-the-sky kind of way. I don’t believe in one magnificent power who creates and destroys, who determines our fate, judges our rights and wrongs.  It's the practical side of me (which is most of me, actually) that just can't see any one being, no matter how omniscient and supernatural, being able to effectively manage that many people. It's just too big a task.
What I do believe is that there are forces beyond our capacity to understand; we, as a collective human race, haven’t the brain capability yet.  Perhaps those forces reside within us (as the Buddha taught) or perhaps those forces come in various forms (as with Hinduism). Maybe the Native Americans and Wiccans have it right; God exists in nature itself. I can't prove any of it right or wrong, and, after many years of questioning, I've decided not to care about that anymore.  I've reached an agreement with myself to let whatever exists exist. All I'm committing to is the possibility.
I was introduced to spirituality through yoga, which, incidentally I tried begrudgingly simply because of the rumored spirituality. I wanted no part of it. But, as with most things important to the Self, I ended up having no choice. I went because I wanted the exercise, I kept going because I felt something I had never felt before.
Very soon after my first yoga class, I found myself telling the teacher how much I felt myself changing. I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of my mouth. Very soon after that, I found myself in more intense yoga classes, learning about the Buddha’s teachings and studying mindfulness. And again, I was struck with disbelief at the thoughts in my mind and the words in my mouth. Very soon after that, I found myself in a yoga teacher training. And then another. And now I find myself singing to Krishna and Ganesha everyday, wishing I had learned better how to pray, and wondering if I need to know more fully who or what I should pray to.
I sing to Krishna because I find him inspiring. You could say I kind of have a crush on him. He is wise and patient and honest. In the story of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna lets Arjuna, the troubled warrior he is conversing with, make his own decisions, come to his own conclusions. He simply illuminates the choices, so we can find our own way. Much like Jesus, Krishna offered his own love for God as proof of God’s existence. He, himself, was committed and he offered this commitment as an opportunity for others.  
I sing to Ganesha because he is the remover, and sometimes placer, of obstacles.  His job is to clear the road for us. Or, if the road is the wrong one, he might throw something in the way so we can no longer travel down it. He forces us to stop, re-evaluate, and turn around. Whether or not Ganesha or Krishna exist is not something I care to decide. I merely appreciate the possibility.
Recently, I find myself wondering things like, Why can’t I just catch a break? or When will it be my turn? or How much weight can even the strongest of people carry before it causes lasting injury? I have been wondering if Ganesha is responsible for the newest of my struggles. And, if he is, what is he trying to tell me?  Don’t mistake- I’m not a yogi who is grateful for suffering because it allows for practice. I’m tired from that and am ready to practice in joy. I’m trying to listen, trying to find truth, but, if I am to be truthful, I am quite frustrated with Ganesha’s meddling.  
So, what do we do when the road that seems obstacle free is not the road we want to be on? What do we do when, in our heart, we know we want to be on a different road, but each attempt leaves us derailed in more bold and more obvious ways?
I want so much to be free to exist on the present road, surrender to the obstacles, honor the value of the other direction. But it's hard. This road is not what I dreamed for myself. It's not how I thought my life would be. It’s not what my heart craves. 
It makes me wonder: perhaps the weight that feels too much to carry, is not from the obstacles, but from the fight, my fight, to be on the road I want to be on, instead of the road on which I'm meant to be.

acf 11/2011


  1. "All I'm committing to is the possibility."

    I like that. Calls to mind Emily Dickinson's brave words: "I dwell in possibility."

    The gray area. That tricky, tricky gray area...

  2. I have never felt as if I were going down the wrong path(of course I say this in retrospect), but I have often felt the weight of the path I travel.
    I do not believe in god(s), so I've never had anyone to blame or thank, complain or sing to.
    It can be a lonely place surrounded by "believers."
    Yoga helps me feel that strength in my self that I think sometimes people seek and find in a god. It lets me hear the humming of the earth that is the energy of the universe and all its inhabitants that is really the only thing that I would describe as my spirituality.