Notes to Self: Being Humbled

If there is one thing that I want to hang on to right now, it is the lesson that life has been teaching me for the past few days, weeks, even months. I am being taught to be humble whether I like it or not. The universe has little regard for my likings, much less for my feelings, and yet, it rewards generously. I deserve none of this, yet I am surrounded by very loving and generous friends.

However, like Juba Nour said, and I am fond of quoting: “Come to class, take in what is there to take, and get rid of it. Don’t accumulate what you know. Tomorrow you are a different person from today. Tomorrow’s class is another one. Unload your memories, knowledge and habits and come to train fresh.”


Family is the one anchor that I have searched and fought for all my life. I was desperately ill resourced for the task. I have fallen on my face and gotten a bloody nose on many occasions. One of those occasions, the bloody nose was real, not a figure of speech, it was even broken and I have the x-rays to prove it. It is perhaps time to churn those x-rays through the shredder and dispose of them for ever, and heal the old wound.

This Christmas there were a few questions that I asked the universe. I returned from London with the firm conviction that his writer whom I am has a right to live and be fully expressed. The shelter of my therapist’s office is a wonderful womb of nurturance where I have taken refuge on a regular basis this past year. When my therapist told me a few weeks ago that I was in pretty good shape and she started to list all that I was doing and the mountains I had moved in the past months, my immediate feeling was that I was finally totally out of excuses to not do what I want to do. To be selfish, be me, to be egoistical and express myself, that is all that I aspire to. I did not write reckless, however I am reckless sometimes, especially in regard to myself. My son would lecture me on self-esteem at this point, and in all likelihood, he would be right. I might argue something about amour-propre, but I like to argue. I like to know, I like to learn.

My evil plan for this Christmas was to do good. I had no idea of what good was about. Much less, did I really conscientiously think that doing good, started with doing that which is in integrity with my own being. Even before I had declared the plan, I had already taken the actions that would deliver the universe’s generosity on my unwitting being. I suspected that something was up when on Saturday one week ago I heard Gabriel sort of lecture to me about what we have under control and what happens when we release it, let go, and let it just be. He used the example of his experience organizing Labaroche, but I got it in my mind that it was more generic than that. For what happened after that I was not quite ready. I am never ready for what happens next, it just happens irreverent of my state of readiness.

I sent a link to my holiday greetings to most of my friends and associates, including clients, family, buddies and acquaintances. Undoubtedly I left out people whom I wanted in, and mailed some who were totally surprised to hear from me. I got lots of emails back, and one person who has known me since I was born commented on the blog post. I got to hear from business associated from whom I have had not heard in two years, and I got a long email from my friend Monika in Long Beach, California. Monika and I go back a long time ago, we did our Masters at CSULA together. She got married while I was still living in California, had two kids, has been living either in California or Greece with her husband, and we keep in touch. Except her email reminded me that indeed I had dropped off the edge of the world about two years ago. She had actually been to Berne this summer and tried to contact me, but to no avail. It is not surprising, others here in town also had a hard time to reach me about one year ago as I had changed both phone numbers and email addresses, besides changing residence. I have however kept the same post office box all along, and have had that now for well over fifteen years.

Stefan‘s call from Frankfurt on Wednesday got me by surprise, we had spoken on the phone just a couple of weeks ago. It is good to hear from him, and to know that his life is working. Unfortunately I will not be able to go to his lecture in January in Paris that will mark a part of his next academic advancement. Now given that he continues to do theoretical physics and I these days have to strain my eyes to recognize an integral, in terms of content I will not be missing anything, but I will be missing the occasion of celebrating this milestone with him, his colleagues and family. Somehow relationship is all about letting go, and nothing about clinging on or possession. When roughly eight years ago I unceremoniously broke up with Stefan for what were indeed my very selfish reasons, I had no clue that in doing so, I was nurturing one of the best friendships possible.

What happened between Monday, Christmas day, and Wednesday afternoon is however difficult to put into words, but struggle I did. Somehow I felt something was up, and on Twitter, I checked out and announced that “the evil plan has taken me”. I struggled with myself, I tend to leave others out of my own internal conflicts. I either jog, practice aikido, write or draw to deal with whatever unresolved has surfaced. I struggled and then I surrendered and found myself feeling throughly soaked and raw. I called my brother and a few friends, I needed to talk, I needed a shoulder to cry on. In our conversation a few lights went on when I listened to the words that I was using and started to realize that they were off. It was with my brother that I talked first, and in attempting to describe something to him in what I thought was his language, I discover what is at the bottom of all of this for me and my preception. I left a few voice messages. Almut called back after dinner, and she invited me to come over however by then Frederic was on his way to visit. Family is an anchor that I need. Family and friends and to me there is not much distinction. I am surrounded by loving family and friends, and somehow beyond being grateful for all of these gifts, I am also feeling very humbled. It is good to feel this way, really good.

Thursday morning – yesterday – as I was waking up Remo returned my call. In one sentence he summed it all up after I told him why I had called him and why I needed him then. He said, that is what Christmas is supposed to be about. The most wonderful of all gifts was mine on Christmas, presence. It is something about learning, learning and love, or that daunting task of life fully lived, fully expressed. All of that which I am so fond of calling healthy egoism.

I am feeling truly humbled by life, and I find the generosity of this universe unfathomable. The universe does not particularly care about my feelings and internal state, that is the one realm that I alone have any control over. The feeling of being connected to others, that is something within my powers. Still, it is nothing one does, it is something about being and surrendering to the moment, to what is, to that which is present.

2006 has been an incredible year when I look back. It was an year that saw me crying at the strangest of times. I remember most clearly my pain in May while in Faro after having just witnessed a scene which confirmed some of my worse fears. I walked the streets of that city with tears rolling down my face and they felt like the elixir of liberation. The illusion had dissolved. It is indeed strange that one access to freedom is through pain. Life is a tough master, and the lessons are not always very friendly. The tears of joy and surrender, how can I describe those?

I could go on and on…

I think some of it started with this post that I wrote back in February.

UPDATE: This post, now that I read it again, makes really not much sense and in the back of my mind there was something else that I wanted to say, but somewhere along the line… I lost it.

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