Today, the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US, is a day filled with reflection and remembrance and mourning. And this is so appropriate. And yet I find myself struggling with how I want to recognize this day, personally and with my family and publicly (like here, in my blog). I have made a conscious choice to not turn on the television. I have watched only two online videos related to the commemoration: one replaying “highlights” of the events of that day and one of a song being sung at the New York memorial today.

Roses at the 9/11 Memorial

Beyond that, I am choosing an attitude of reflection. Rather than dwelling in the past, I look to the lessons that can be learned and how we can live in a way that will somehow make some sense of those tragedies. Because, even in this case, I do believe that everything happens for a reason. I don’t believe that reason was so that we would have a reason to go to war in the Middle East. In my opinion, retaliation does not solve anything. Truly, though, all I can do is find the lesson in this for myself and make my life mean something as a result.

Om Mani Padme Hum

This is a tattoo that I had done on my back on the last day of 2009. The meaning of the Buddhist mantra is not easy to convey in a few words, but the basic idea is that the recitation or viewing of the mantra will invoke the embodiment of compassion. And this is the lesson that I choose to learn… in all of my life, really. We can only accept people as they are and be compassionate for their position in the world. Yes, there are many who live their lives devoted to hatred and destruction. The roots of this hatred is deep rooted… and coming to some sort of understanding of that can lead us to compassion, even for those that cause such sadness.

Have I lost a loved one as a result of a terrorist act? No, I haven’t. Do I have a right to speak for how one should feel in such a situation? I probably don’t. But I do, in the need to find my own sense of understanding, have a right to my own feelings. And they are these: only compassion can bring this world to a place where there will be no more war, no more hatred, no more destruction. Without it, we not only hurt others, but we hurt ourselves.

“Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher


Letting go…

Letting go can be the hardest thing in the world for a control freak. Who is the control freak, you ask? Ok, I know you didn’t actually ask because you probably already know I am talking about myself. I am so bad, I hate surprises, I hate the unknown… anything that takes away my control over a situation.

Today I was reading this blog post by a guy with great spiritual energy that I came across on Twitter. This part in particular really spoke to me:

“When I give permission to the others in my my life to be authentically who they are without judgement or needing to control or change them, it is like giving water to to someone dieing of thirst.”

Reading on, the idea is that you accept people as they are and let go of the need to control or change them. As I read, I come to see that letting go sets me free. Really, the water that I are giving is to myself. The love and acceptance fills my thirsty heart.

There are a few relationships in my life that I have tried to control… to make into my own idealized version of reality. One in particular. I know I made this person out to be something that they truly are not. And I am learning to accept who this person truly is. I am learning to let go of that dream that I created, because it wasn’t real. I am learning that this person’s authentic self doesn’t make this person a bad person. They are simply different from what my controlling instinct thought they should be. And that is ok. That is real. I take this person and my hurt and regret and disappointment and dreams… and I pull them into a bundle in my heart… and a take a breath… and I let them go.

That space in my heart where all of that was can only be filled with love. I accept and love this person for what they truly are and I will learn accept their rightful place in my life, even if that is out of my life. I say learn on that one because I am not there yet. That’s part of the journey… but I am on my way.