Happy Monday everyone! Can you think back to “teaching moments” that have shaped you as an individual? Read my thoughts on this week’s post Fitting Forty: Lessons. #NewBlogPost #Lessons #TeachingMoments
A couple of mornings ago, I was up early getting ready for work. I was combing my hair trying to get my fro all the way together and I was having difficulty. I went into my mother’s bedroom to give myself a once over in her full length mirror. I was still trying to pat my fro left and pick it on the right and I was not getting my desired results. She saw my frustration, took the comb from me, and proceeded to do what I apparently could not. She then began telling me, “You have comb the hair down and fluff up. You cannot go against what your hair wants to do.” At first I wanted to protest but she did get my hair together for me just like she use to when I was a kid. She then said, “When will I stop teaching you girls?”
I did not answer my mom at the time. I was concentrating more on getting out door however I did find myself pondering her question. When will I stop teaching you? The answer is never. You never will stop teaching me.
The first teachers any child receives in life are their parents or guardian. They teach you have to walk, to speak your native language, how to use the bathroom, and they shape the very foundations of you as an individual.
I think of all the lessons that I have gleaned from my parents over the years. Their opinions were very important to me. I still run key life decisions past my mom because I want to listen to her guidance. I hear her experiences that may be similar to what I may be experiencing. I also know the reason that I like to write is because of her. I would read her old stories and found them witty and insightful. I would wish that I could be just as gifted to tell stories in pen form like her. I listened to my dad in a similar way. I think about one lesson in particular. There was a time when I was not doing well in college. I had to stop for a time because my grades were low and I did not have any direction. One day, my father said to me, “You keep hitting your head against a brick wall and the wall is quite bloody. One day, you are going to get tired of hitting your head against that wall.”
He was not lying. I got tired. I got back into school and I graduated. I personally know that if he never taught me that lesson, I would have never seen a cap and gown.
Although my mom is with me and my dad has transitioned, both of their lessons still resonate. My mind would wander back to conversations with my dad about situations I face today and I would learn another lesson that I can apply to my life. The same thing would happen with my mom as well. All of my ancestors I have interacted within this life would bring to light teaching moments that shape my decisions and ultimately I gained wisdom from them.
I am not going to stop learning lessons until I leave this Earth. I find lessons all the time. I may even have told myself, “I wish I never did this.” or I may say, “I wish I never met this person.” But if I never experienced certain locales, I wouldn’t gained wisdom. I would not have gained direction. Also, sometimes the lessons that I learned were not always for me. Since I know that life is about relationships, I may have gone through something that someone else could learn from. My lesson could be someone’s direction.
Making it to this age, I can honestly say that I do not know a damn thing. There was a time in my life I thought I had things figured out and life were about absolutes. That was foolish thinking. Life has many shades of gray, and there are more than 50 (spoilers). I am still learning, still processing, and STILL putting pieces together. I think back to certain things that were told to me or done to me and say, “Oh, that is what that meant!” Sometimes that clarity came years later but that’s okay. Some things are not always meant to be revealed to you right then and there. Sometimes the lesson comes right when you need to learn from it or when it is the right time to share it.
Never be afraid of the lessons of life. They come to make you better. They come to make you stronger. They come to make you more courageous and compassionate. Ultimately, these lessons come to make you a more enlightened individual if you let them. As long as breath still fills your lungs, school is in session. Do you have your pen and pencil? Do you have your notebooks? Time to learn.
Monday morning came and I found myself at Starbucks across the street from my job (how convenient) getting some get ‘er done juice (my term for coffee since is this how I function properly) for the day. Like some of my fellow bean fiend’s, I am a zombie without my first cup. I am the very person that would really prefer for you not to speak to me until caffeine has fully permeated through my veins. Hey, everyone is entitled to their vices. Coffee is mine along with gummy worms (don’t ask)! Now that I had a shot of my opiate of choice, I am now awake and able to get through the day! Yay me!
Being “awake” has been a very popular theme I would assess for the past couple of years. Everyone is all of a sudden “woke”. Then this “woke” theme reached a higher height when Childish Gambino premiered the song “Red Bone” along with the movie “Get Out”. Now it is popular to tell others to avoid the “Sunken Place” and wearing dashikis and necklaces that have ankhs and black fists. Now I am not knocking any of those things because I have a few dashiki pieces in my closet right now and spend a few of my coins on natural hair products. That stuff AIN’T CHEAP! Yes, all those things are well and good, but do you really know what it is to be awake?
Being awake is not all about modern day slang. I dare even say it is not about being fully into one’s “Blackness” or “Whiteness” or anything else of that nature. I do not have a problem with loving your race/culture because there nothing wrong being proud of where you came from. Being awake is much deeper. To be awake is to come into a state where you realize your greatest potential and contribute to the place where you are right now by bringing forth your unique capabilities – Living Buddhism August 2017 pg 6.
Now that sentence said a whole lot but what does it actually mean?
To truly know what means to come into a state where you realize your greatest potential and contribute to the place where you are right now by bringing forth your unique capabilities, you first have to know what “potential” means. So what is potential? Well, the dictionary defines potential as having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future. Simply put, potential is untapped ability. It is the energy/gifts that are already in you that have not come to light. As humans, we have a habit of keeping our potential hidden because we are afraid of it. We fear what we are capable of. We fear being great because we get comfortable being mediocre. We fear being powerful because we are used to acting like sheep instead of being lions. We fear because we do not know and chose to live in darkness because ignorance is bliss. To live in fear is to remain in a place of slumber.
When you realize your potential you come into know who you really are. When you come into knowing who you really are you awaken from slumber. You become more aware. You are aware of yourself. You are aware of what you like and dislike. You are aware of others and make decisions accordingly on how to deal with them. You are aware of your environment and learn how to interact with it. You realize your place in the universe and begin to walk in your purpose. When you walk in your purpose, not only do you change your life for the better, you affect other lives around you for the better.
Living in an awaken state involves our capabilities shining the brightest when we take action for the happiness not only for ourselves but of others. We awaken people to their unlimited potential and empower them to become happy. Awakening means coming face to face with the innermost essence of your own life. It is knowing the ultimate meaning of why you were born and why you are alive. There is no greater joy, fulfillment or pride than that which comes from awakening to your eternal mission (Youth and the Writings of Nichiren Dishonin pg. 12)
Being awake means to live with purpose. The purpose would be tapping into potential and using the gifts that are inside. Finding what your gifts are (I say gifts because there is always more than one) will tell you what your purpose is. When your purpose is revealed, you will then affect the life of yourself and others around you for the better. That is what will bring true happiness, fulfillment, and life lived more in abundance.
Why stay in slumber? Why walk in fear? Why cut yourself off from your own potential? What are you afraid of? Do you want to live life as a sheep or as a lion? In The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, Ikeda writes this:
“Let us always press forward steadily, come what may, choosing cheerfulness over gloom, encouragement over envy, enthusiasm over anger. Let us live our lives with unwavering confidence, demonstrating a spirit of tolerance, not authoritarianism, filled with hope instead of despair, taking action instead of complaining, and engaging in dialogue, not violence. Those who fight against their own weaknesses and keep pressing forward resolutely – challenging themselves instead of giving up, and taking personal responsibility for victory instead of criticizing others – triumph in the end and attain happiness. Moreover the efforts we make now determine not just this existence but our past, present, and future.”
These are the principles of being awake. To live intentionally in purpose. To affect your life positively and those around you. Choosing to act with compassion instead of arrogance and with courage instead of fear. As stated before, the efforts we make NOW determine not just this existence but our past, present, and future. Isaiah 60:1a says, Arise, shine; for your light has come. The alarm is ringing Beloved. Time to wake up.
Here is a funny story. I remember when I was 25 years old and I was visiting my Grandmother in her apartment. I was living outside of Chicago and I recently went back to school to finish my degree while working a full time job. Not easy by the way but I digress. I was sitting with her and just chatting. During our talk, my Grandmother paused and looked at me silently. I looked back at her pensively and asked her what’s wrong? She then said to me, and please imagine a very thick Jamaican accent, “Cindy, you’re not married, you don’t have children, you don’t have a boyfriend! G’yal, what wrong wit ya’? Ya’ G’YAY????” If you have not guessed, the last word was an attempt to spell in patois phonetically the word gay. I kind of looked at her and then began to laugh. My Grandmother was a very matter of fact woman and never took time to hold her tongue about anything. Pretty much, NO FILTER! As much as I wanted to give her an answer, I really couldn’t because I was too busy laughing at what she said to me. Really Grandma??? That’s how you feel??? You had to have been there!
At the time, I did not date. On the surface, I was focused more on finishing school since I messed up the first go round. I wanted to get it right and make an attempt to educated myself and become a self sufficient adult. The underlining reason I did not date was because I was obese and I did not think myself attractive and I did not think anyone would think I was attractive either.
Fifteen years later, I am much like my former self in my relationship status. I am still unmarried, I still have no children, but no I am not gay. I have dated since that conversation (or should I say accusation) I had with my Grandmother but nothing really panned out in my favor.
Now please do not get my wrong. This post is not an all men suck rant because that is simply not true. Recently, I felt myself very low and I did not know what to do. I sought some spiritual advise and the main thing that was told to me was, “Here is a mirror, you need to look at yourself”.
I really had to ponder. What does that mean? Before I get into explanations, let me ask some questions. Have you ever been in situations that just did not work out? What were the situations? Did you try to start a business, date, or lose weight and it did not work in your favor? Why didn’t it work?
If you really look at each situation you find yourself and it did not work out, you have to look at the common denominator. That common denominator is and will always be you.
Often times, stuff doesn’t work out for a lot of reasons. In order to truly analyze and find solutions to problems is always best practice to look at yourself and see the part you play in it. This is what it really means to look at yourself. Look into yourself. Reveal all parts of yourself. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Recently, circumstances forced me really to do some serious soul searching. In a way, I had to break out my spiritual mirror and start looking at myself. I came across a quote during my introspection that I like to share.
- A mind now clouded by the illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when polished, it is sure to become like a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena and the true aspect of reality. (The Winning Life – The World Tribune Press)
In life, we are often bombarded by different situations that can cloud our minds and cause us to be blind essentially walking in darkness. If we continue in that state, we never realize our true potential. We often find ourselves reacting and never truly get down the road of our lives.
I personally decided I need to polish my mirror everyday. I have to look at myself, everyday. I say have to instead of had to because this work never stops. It is essential if I personally want to realize my goals and endeavor to becoming a better human being.
Is there something in your life that is keeping you from moving forward? We all have something. No one is immune. Problems, situations, and circumstances are all part of living. I encourage you to break out your mirror. Really start to look at yourself. Polish your mirror everyday. You’d be surprised on what it will reveal. Take heed to what you find. You will be better when you commit to doing the work.