Asking the Universe to Dance

How often do we just ask for what we need in this world?

I’m so guilty of this– I need something, but I never ask. I talk myself out of asking for whatever it is that I need. I don’t want to seem needy, or greedy or dependent. I project the answer onto the person that I need to ask. I make up a thousand different reasons as to why that person will most definitely say no.

So I don’t ask.

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On the rare occasions that I do ask, the answer usually surprises me. It’s often a yes. And many times the reasons I projected my predicted no onto this person never even existed. Well, they existed, but only in my mind.

But what happens when we fear asking for something big? And not of another being but the asking of something necessary from the Universe- or from God, Goddess, Allah, Buddha or whomever it is you speak to in the quiet moments.

What happens when we fear asking for something necessary in our lives- health, abundance, wealth, peace or mind or simply safety- from the source that might actually be able to provide it?

In my more settled lifestyle now, I find myself devoid of the spiritual side of existence. I’m not sure if it’s simply my environment and its energy or the community I have yet to find and embrace– but I don’t see the Divine that often in this settled life.

Over the years of living unconventionally and nomadically, I was able to witness something spiritual in almost everywhere I traveled. Maybe it was the newness of everything that I found so serendipitous. Or possibly the people I met in such a lifestyle seemed to be placed before me for a reason– it all had a purpose.

I saw something magical everyday. Every week. And on some lovely days, every moment.

But now, in this settled life, I can’t see the Universe in action. I can’t watch the serendipitous unfold. I don’t meet people from all walks of life– with their own spiritual compasses guiding them through their days. I don’t have engaging conversations on a regular basis and I don’t have my socks knocked off by some unexpected event that I inadvertently discover.

In this settled life, nestled within the rat race, I see people rushing to the next appointment, buried in the mobile devices or talking on their cell phones. I see people completely disengaged with the world.

And thus, over the past year or so of settling into one place, I’ve forgotten to ask the Universe questions along the way. I’ve forgotten to ask the Divine to help me out in certain situations– or to simply show me the path I need to travel down. I’ve forgotten how to simply ask the Universe for peace of mind– for a sign that everything will work out as it’s supposed to.

And I’ve lost the solid belief that it WILL work out the way it’s supposed to. This settled life is so filled with daily fears and unknowns that revolve around our more material existence that this perpetual fear of making ends meet and of relationships surviving has removed the more solid belief that things will always work out. They always do.

For better or worse, things will work themselves out.

I guess in the past, I held tightly to this belief because I saw the Universe working things out in a perpetual manner. I could just look back on my day and see how events unfolded to land me where I needed to be. It was a dance — me and the Universe. Putting actions in motion and intentions into the ether that manifested into something wondrous, necessary and intriguing.

We don’t dance anymore. I haven’t invited the Universe to the dance floor in some time. I’ve become numb to the world around me because I’ve settled. It’s not that I’ve settled down– but I’ve settled. I no longer ask the Universe to dance.

And that is a sad reality.

For what is a life if you’re not dancing with the Divine and watching the magnificent symphony of life create music before you? What is a life that is spent in perpetual stress, fear and chaos? What is a life spent avoiding the unknown, the scary and the unpredictable? What is a life spent caught in the rat race- always seeking more?

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That’s not a life. That’s an exhausting treadmill you can’t leave. That’s settling. A settling into something dangerous that removes you from the spiritual side of living. A settling that separates you from the power that fuels you, the power that pushes you to explore, to take risks.

Such a settling removes you from the power to seek the beauty in life.

When was the last time you asked the Universe to dance? I’m sending out my invitation now.

Changing Lifestyles & Finding Our Truth

We all seek a lifestyle.

Some vision of a life that we feel we should emulate. Some of us mirror our paths after the life that our parents lead, showing us a lifestyle at a young age. And we embrace it as our own. Others look outside of their families for a guiding vision of what a lifestyle should be and all that it should entail. And still others look to the mass media and the Joneses for a guiding beacon in this world of consumption and materialism.

We fight to see what our lifestyle should be and what others will accept as normal, respectable and admirable. But what if we’ve chosen a lifestyle that is not our own?

A lifestyle of street art in Anncey, France.

A lifestyle of street art in Anncey, France.

What if we’ve chosen to emulate something that we think- or our ego thinks- is the right life only to find out that the reality is a slow, painful death. A life devoid of love, compassion, simplicity or stillness.

What if the lifestyle we’ve chosen is unsustainable for our families, our communities and our own sanity?

What do we do then?

We change.

We radically embrace the fact that our vision was skewed. We forgive ourselves for embracing a distorted vision- for it is truly possible that our intentions were in alignment with our desires when we began building our lives- and we look at the places where we went wrong.

We embrace the person we are now. Not yesterday and not a future self- but who we are now, in this moment. We stop and understand that the person who stands before us is all that we have and in order to be true to this person, we have to embrace our faults. And forgive ourselves for making these mistakes.

Once forgiveness happens, we can change our lives.

We can find Happiness in the simplicity of just being. We can seek to alter our reality in a way that gives us the things we overlooked in building our original lifestyles.

When we shed the chains of outside perceptions on lifestyle and conformity, we can embrace that true desire that constantly lurks just below the surface.

When we shed the weight of modernity and all its social norms, we can be that person we always envisioned- before the outside world homogenized normal.

We can become artists, craftsmen and miners. We can become visionaries, creators and philosophers.

When we embrace OUR lifestyle, we make the world a little more beautiful as we pass through.

Zombies, Zombies Everywhere!!

What do I see around me?

I see people who have checked out. I see Zombies zooming down the highway in their cars, texting instead of driving, rushing from one place to another- never bothering to be present in the place they are- always worried about the next task on the list.

I feel the loneliness of a humanity that has decided that the rush to consume and the madness of distraction is better than the time it takes to engage with real people.

I feel the energy of a community that is fighting to understand one another- and wondering where all the joy has gone.

I see sadness in people eyes. I see their fatigue and I touch their disengagement.

I wonder when we all collectively disengaged from one another. Was it when cell phones became the norm? Did it happen when emails became a regular means of communication rather than writing letters. Did it happen when Facebook took over people’s free-time and became the defining narrative of friendships and interaction.

Rush hour- a breeding ground for Zombie conversions.

Rush hour- a breeding ground for Zombie conversions.

I meet people today who have lost the ability to step out of their own drama and see a person for who they truly are. People who are so engrossed in their own bubbles that they have lost the ability to engage in normal human interactions.

People who judge based on preconceived notions. People who hate based on their own projections- not actual reality. People who spread anger, fear and drama as if they were necessary for our very survival.

When, in fact, the seeds these people are sowing are slowly destroying the beauty of humanity.

These are the things I see. These are the things I try to avoid looking at and acknowledging their existence. I often wonder if I’m seeing things as they are or how I anticipate them to be. I wonder why I see the world this way, when others are able to gloss over the reality they see before them and pretend it doesn’t exist.

There are days where I see the happiness in people. Days where I have conversations with strangers that make me smile. Days where I see people visibly react to my own positive energy- the energy I try to put out into the world everyday.

Days when I see humanity beginning to beat down the Zombies– days when I feel maybe this society will awaken to all that we could be and should embrace.

Such days exist– I just hope they begin to outweigh the days when the Zombies reign.

A Blind Eye

Do you walk through your day with a blind eye to the kindness and compassion that stands before you?

Do you shield yourself with the ancient wisdom of the world’s religions which you’ve twisted and tormented to justify your anger and hatred towards others?

Do you use your past to give merit to the negativity and hatred you place into this world- sucking the beauty and the soul out of everyone that allows you into their lives?

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see a strong, powerful soul standing before you? Someone in control of their life, their destiny and their path in this world?

Or do you fear the mirror? Do you gaze at your reflection with fear and judgement? Do you blame the world for what is reflected back at you? Do you lack the vision to see that you- and only you- have the ultimate say in the composition of this reflection before you?

When did your eyes stop seeing all that life could be? When did you become blind to the world around you and the love that was yours? When did your eyes begin to filter and destroy the good and leave only the misery?

When did life become so painful that your world went dark?

Embracing Detachment

Detachment. Loss. Letting go. Surrender.

How often in the modern world do we ever discuss these simple- yet powerful words?

How often do you hear casual discourse about letting a material object go? How often do you hear people discuss letting a relationship fall gently to the side due to it’s high toxicity level? When was the last time you heard someone lament their detachment to the dwelling where they rest their head at night?

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Almost never. Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a Buddhist retreat, a Portland/Boulder-esque city or a hippy commune- its probably a rare occurrence to discuss how blessed we are to recognize our detachment to the things in our life.

Rather, in the Whirlwind, people are gushing over their attachment– to the latest gadget, their dramatic relationship or the home they lavish most of their resources towards. I’m just as guilty as the next- only, I’m blessed in the sense that I have experienced loss, letting go and the occasional blessed freedom of detachment.

I struggle to keep these principles in balance as I travel through this Whirlwind of attachment and chaos. I am lucky in that I know how little I need to actually enjoy my existence on this planet. I know the necessities that allow me to love well, to live well and to simply enjoy being. And if I’m lucky enough– I’m able to remember those simple elements that maintain balance as I travel through this Whirlwind.

My heart aches to see so many people traveling through this world with a true fear of loss, detachment and change. People who cling to what was- no matter how unhealthy, toxic and destructive- for fear of the change in letting go.

So many people who have never had the opportunity or been shown how to simply surrender.

For once you walk the path of total surrender– the process of letting go fully and completely– navigating through the Whirlwind becomes a manageable and sometimes enjoyable journey. But without that trust in the unknown, trust in the simple act of letting go– regardless of what lies beyond — the sheer magnitude of of that abyss keeps people trapped in that perpetual cycle of hate, anger, drama and defeat.

If we could all simply let go and embrace a small degree of detachment- just a little– the Whirlwind might not be so chaotic and I might not see so many Zombies traveling through their days unengaged and out of synch with the beauty that surrounds them.

This essay was inspired by an article from Shambhala Sun’s 11/2012 issue titled The Vagabond Queen of Craigslist by Atisha Paulson.