Appearances

sign spiritual walk at the wall

There was a time in my life that “if it felt good, it WAS good, and if it felt bad, it WAS bad.”  I guess I was living like a member of another species!

What I’ve learned over time is what feels bad is sometimes good, and what feels good is sometimes bad.  This puts a whole new spin on things.  Now I have to discern what’s actually happening, regardless of how it feels.

This is probably what Pema Chodron, the great Buddhist nun, means when she says “lean into the sharp object.”  It’s counterintuitive to accept pain as part of life.  We spend a lot of energy trying to avoid it through various addictions and distractions. We desperately hope that something outside ourselves will save us from pain.  The truth… Nothing saves us from pain.  Our only choice is to get through it quickly through acceptance, or slowly through obfuscation and suffering.  The latter strategy results in blaming others and Life itself for our pain.

 The grace of acceptance looks like giving up, but it is actually the Path of the Spiritual Warrior.  There are times to fight, but they are much rarer than we think.  If we fight to avoid pain, it will accumulate and will be waiting around the corner in another form.

As I’ve come to this realization I can breathe.  I don’t feel like a cornered animal living on adrenalin.  I don’t think anyone is making a stained glass window in my image any time soon!  I’m just grateful to embrace a truth that lets me rest.

 With love, Rosanne

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Our Faces

Having embraced our feet with appreciation in my last post, it occurred to me that faces, consistently exposed to review and evaluation, have their own challenges to bear.

portrait of mother looking at baby with love (focis on baby)

The first social connection is to the face of the caregiver, our ticket into the world of relationships. We presume, little egocentric beings that we are, that the expression on mommy’s face is a perfect reflection of who we are. Is mommy stressed, preoccupied, tired?  Are we welcome, important or an intruder, a bother?  No wonder we focus so much attention on facial appearance… Which one of the 200 possible expressions of the human face will bring people closer?  Which ones will repel people?  Are we aware of our expressions and how they’re affecting others?

Rather than emotions being the barometer of facial expression, in our culture, there is the perennial search for the perfect face, especially the nose. It’s as if nasal perfection trumps all of our insecurities.  The thought of a nose job gives me the willies!  I don’t know about you, but I cringe when I think of anything resembling a scalpel approaching my poor face. As for nose jobs, I can’t speak from experience, because I escaped the Armenian nose through some anomaly of DNA.  Those Armenian noses are prodigious. Maybe back in the day they were used to call the sheep home from the pasture?

Then there’s the aging face.  I have a beauty mark that used to be in the middle of my right cheek.  It is now closer to my jaw line.  What does that tell you about the effects of gravity?  I’d like to think that the beauty mark is migrating on its own, but it’s really my flesh giving up the fight.  Oh the ravages of time.

The things we do to shore up the effects of time and gravity!  People get injected, get their faces cut and lifted, and collect myriads of creams and lotions which (supposedly) perform youthful transformations.  Go into the medicine cabinet of any woman over 55 and you’ll see the stockpile of failed experiments and broken promises.  We lose collagen as we age.  Where does it all go?  It’s probably languishing at the ocean floor along with the single socks we lose in the laundry.  Someone could make a fortune drilling for collagen and recovering socks. Forget petroleum.

I remember my aunts and my mother having the family joke of walking past a mirror and doing a double take, saying “When did that happen!?”  It was always good for a laugh.  I understand it better now than I did then, though I confess that I’m not always laughing.

I also recall my father looking in the mirror and saying “Who is that old guy?”  He said he felt the same as always on the inside and was shocked when the mirror didn’t agree with his inner perception.  I guess, unless we want to live a delusional existence, we have to lean into that sweet, if aging, face in the mirror and appreciate its reflection of the journey we’ve traveled in the 3D world.

Along those lines we’re left with a choice:  We can wear our imperfect faces proudly or twist them into billboards of doubt, suffering and shame.  There’s a saying “In the first half of life, your face belongs to God.  In the second half of life, your face belongs to you.”  I take this to mean that, if our hearts are open we exude love and softness, an inner beauty shining through our faces.  If life has etched suffering and resentment, we are left with the facial residue.

Rather than spackling, injecting, cutting and pasting the facial lines of experience, why don’t we work on our faces from inside out?  Is it really where the skin is sitting on my bones that defines who I am?  I think I’ll go smile at myself in the mirror and see what happens.

Sending love,  Rosanne