We can be spiritually oh-so-divine with our beliefs in loving kindness and compassion and unity and Oneness, can’t we?
Until someone pushes our let’s-get-real button.
What kind of button? you innocently ask.
The button we all have–even when we like to pretend we’ve moved beyond button-pushing.
A certain beloved family member pushed my button–OK, one of my buttons–at our recent delightful family wedding.
Before the wedding I went through an inner conversation which sounded something like this, “Now, Kathy, this time you won’t become annoyed at ANY family members, will you, when they swear undying love to so-and-so political candidate? And if anyone utters a prejudiced word against any religious sect, you will not, will you please not?, leap to the defense of third world nations? And if anyone says anything objectionable, you’ll remember to breathe from your heart and be oh-so-cool, won’t you, please, won’t you? Yes? We have an agreement? Good.”
So off I ran, skipped, jumped and flew to the lovely wedding and it was oh-so-lovely and if I ever have access to all the photos and the appropriate computer simultaneously I shall spin long yarns and stories which shall NOT mention button-pushing on my other blog, Lake Superior Spirit.
Here’s what happened. A beloved family member told me I wasn’t funny.
The beloved family member announced which members of the family had a sense of humor and told me that, unfortunately, I was not gifted thus.
The beloved family member did allow that I laughed a lot.
Now, reader, do you think I recalled the stern little anti-button pushing lecture before the wedding? Do you think I looked fondly and lovingly at said family member and viewed the situation from the perspective of the witness? Do you think I remembered that truly, really, we are not individual ships sailing in the ocean–that in reality, we are the ocean itself? Do you think I melted into that state of Oneness and unity which underlies everything, everything, simply everything?
Nah, not a chance.
It’s not like I didn’t have warning that said family believes this. He/she told the same story last June to the same audience. The funny family members loved it. We un-funny ones sobbed in our cups but kept a stiff smiling (non-funny) upper lip.
This time I snapped back, forget the lovely wedding going on in the background.
“I can’t believe you think this!” I defended the personality of Kathy with a vengeance. “Lots of my blog readers think I’m funny!”
Said family member simply raised her eyebrows in disbelief.
“My friend Susan thinks I’m funny!” I continued to shout within my unspiritual head–not out loud, mind you. “Book club people think I’m funny! I’m really funny! Damn it, I’m really really REALLY funny!”
(The funniest part of this is that, really, let’s get real, Kathy–do you care ONE wit about being funny? Why are you defending yourself? What’s this about?)
This little scene lasted less than two minutes out of a week-long wedding extravaganza, yet I keep coming back to it with percolating feelings of rage, despair, sorrow, annoyance.
And do you know what, dear reader?
I am SO embracing these feelings.
Spirituality, I 100% believe, is not necessarily about embracing only positive thinking. It’s about allowing what arises to arise. It’s about being present to what happens, acutely present, without shutting down into denial and moving away toward pleasure and relief.
Someone pushes our button(s).
Can we be present to ALL that arises without moving too quickly to the positive? Without dwelling too long in the story?
Can we be present to the rawness of emotion without a story?
(OK, OK, sometimes we need to keep that story for a while, sometimes even explore the roots and tendrils and beliefs which helped create it. But there is a deeper wealth to be gleaned by simply being present with the rawness which arises, feeling the muddled, confused murkiness of our human not-knowing.)
I couldn’t do this for the first two minutes of the family member’s assessment.
However, afterwards, in the ensuing hours and days, I have been staying with my heart’s rawness around this issue when it arises.
Staying with pain and confusion. Not trying to fix it. Just breathing in what arises, allowing it to be part of this present moment.
I am amazed to discover lately how much emotion I still push away. How much feeling I label into a rigid story. How much vulnerability and insecurity and confusion still needs to be sat with, accompanied, loved fiercely or gently or softly or beautifully.
My spiritual practice these days is simply–and it’s not always simple–being with the 1,020,023,340 feelings which arise. Realizing how I have turned away from so much, and not even fully realized it!
Want to know the funny sidebar to the button-pushing story?
The very next morning, the day after the beautiful wedding, a friend approached and said, “My daughter-in-law said she couldn’t believe what a funny person you are!”
The moral of this story is: we’re both funny and we’re not funny. Can we sit with both assessments as they arise? Can we embrace both parts of ourselves? Do we still need to defend a personality or can we allow whatever arises–all that arises–to arise as the gift that it is?