I’d like to think that I’m all enlightened and awake and aware to life and the Universe, but if I can be truly honest, I really can be a little dense sometimes.
There are times when The Universe needs to beat me over the head before I wake up and see and accept the gifts that are being handed to me, seemingly on a silver platter.
This time, the gift came in the form of Pema Chodron.
For those of you unfamiliar with her, Pema is an American woman who is now an ordained Buddhist nun. She has written a number of books and does workshops and lectures. She came recommended to me, rather offhandedly, a couple of months ago by my bloggy friend, T. She also passed along that Pema would be in my home city in August (the week I would be on vacation). That was pretty much the extent of the conversation. I’d never actually heard of the woman before. But after that brief mention, her name stuck with me for some reason.
Last week, her name showed up on the scene again. A Facebook friend posted this quote on her page:
It isn’t the things that are happening to us that cause us to suffer, it’s what we say to ourselves about the things that are happening. The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new. -Pema Chodron
The quote was very fitting for me on the day it was posted. Again, I noticed the name, and remembered my brief conversation with T. I thought it was an interesting coincidence, to have this woman appear in two different places by two different people, and continued on my merry way.
Sunday afternoon, after my girls were gone on vacation with their dad, I decided to take myself downtown and just wander around for a bit. I happened by a bookstore that sells mostly spiritual-type, “new-agey” sorst of books. I’ve never been in this bookstore before, but as I walked by, I saw in the window a display of books by Pema Chodron. I paused to look at her kind, smiling face, briefly. It occurred to me that the display was likely there because of her upcoming visit to the city.
I continued on down the sidewalk.
I got about five steps before it occurred to me that I needed to go into this bookstore. It was the kind of place that normally intimidated me, but I figured it was a beautiful sunny Sunday in the middle of summer, if anything I could play the “tourist”.
It took some looking but I found a small section of books written by Pema Chodron. I flipped through several, until I settled on one: “The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times”. After the day I’d had on Saturday, the title was calling out to me.
I took the book with me to the park and began reading. It feels almost as though it was written just for me. It’s the kind of book that’s going to take a couple of read-throughs for it all to sink in.
Last night, as I was reading more, this passage stuck out for me:
That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything this a process…Yet at the level of personal experience, we resist this basic fact. It means that life isn’t always going to go our way.
The book is about the nature of fear in our lives, and learning how to be comfortable with it. Not about fighting against it or eliminating it, but allowing it, so that it may teach us about ourselves and life. And fear? Well, as we all know, fear is a major force in my life – always, but even more so lately. This book, this woman, has come to me at a time in my life when I most need her.
Thank you, Universe. I’m listening – finally.