“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” *
Is what an old Canberra friend emailed me before I left Honolulu for Brisbane.
A week? Gasp! Try five months.
My extended stay stems from love – to give time from my life to my surviving parent, my mother. Time is precious. There may come a day when my mother is no longer in this world with me, and no matter what, I know now, beforehand, that I will miss her.
Which is why over the past few years, I have chosen to spend months at a time in Australia. It’s been a mixed blessing. Because of my mother, I am in closer proximity – physically, emotionally and mentally – to family members who bear me much harm and malice.**
Neither do I think I’m enlightened. The all-too-brief bouts of what I suspect is enlightenment makes me realize how unenlightened I really am. I daresay that I have glimpsed the humbling vastness of unknowingness.
By spending the 2012 Christmas season in Brisbane through to March 2013, I am choosing to make myself vulnerable to potentially heart-wounding situations. I am, with full knowledge, challenging myself to learn some tough fundamentals and, even more difficult, practice them in the face of pain and hurt.
Still, I was caught unawares. Of course. All the old roles and attendant abuse, exclusion, isolation, rejection, malice, spite, unkindness, gathered momentum until suddenly I was freshly drowning again. Lost in such acute pain that life began to take on those old familiar shades of unreality, a type of grief-stricken madness.
This intense hurt allowed me to veer away from myself, to no longer inhabit self fully. I had to find myself again. I had to return to me.
Three things happened. One, I wrote it out in Freshly Cut Tears. Two, my readers’ responses of caring and understanding soothed me tremendously; I was taken aback, once more, by the love of strangers. And three, the happy coincidence of receiving on that very day a card from Honolulu, seven different handwritings of, “Come back, we miss you!” and “Come home to us” – surely it couldn’t have been timed more perfectly?
My weeping transformed to tears of gratitude. I set myself right. Like those round lead-weighted dolls who always wobble back to an upright position, no matter how often they are knocked down.
I found my center again.
I returned to me.
* Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert, author of Be Love Now.
** During my 2009 visit, my brother, perceiving his younger sister as a “Judas,” poised himself to administer a similar death-by-hanging. “The time is nigh,” my only sibling warned me. He was thwarted by the local authorities.