Monday, May 9, 2016

When Life Gets Messy

An interstellar nebula or pile of trash?
It's easy to be joyful when things are going our way - when our environment is clean and tidy: the lawn mowed, the dishes done, the floors spotless and the house painted and furnished just the way we want. When we're soaking in a sparkly clean tub with a new bar of organic soap, our green beauty products lined up neatly in the cabinet.

When the dirt is hidden. When the air smells fresh and fragrant. When the sun is shining and the sky is blue and the grass is green and the trash buried. When our life looks like a magazine cover. When, when, when.

We started major remodeling a few weeks ago, and we have weeks to go - months, even. It is a slow, messy process fraught with setbacks (and one of the reasons my posts have dropped off). But as I write this, I am thinking of our brothers and sisters up North - in Fort McMurray Alberta, Canada - who have lost everything in a major wildfire and for whom "mess" doesn't even begin to describe their current state. Or our siblings in the Southwest after the devastating floods. Or, well, anyone living through an upheaval - whether human-made (e.g. remodeling, rebuilding) or nature-made.

So, how do we maintain even a semblance of inner peace - let alone joy - when things don't go our way? When they get smelly, messy and turned upside down? And when that mess lasts for weeks. Maybe months. Years, even.

One way is to look up in the sky at night and meditate on the universe - in particular, its origins. To step back for just a few moments and understand where our "mess" really began.

The Milky Way Galaxy or a cigarette burn on upholstery?
"We take it for granted that there exists a periodic table with numerous elements (at last count, 118) from which we can construct the world around us. But when the universe began with a big bang, it started out with no elements at all.

Many of the elements that make up Earth and the people on it had to be created in the nuclear furnaces inside stars and were only released once the star reached the end of its life.

In fact, only light elements, like hydrogen and helium, were created at the start of the universe." Kelly Oakes,"On the Origin of Chemical Elements," Scientific American, August 2,2011

Look around you. Yes - right now - around wherever you are. What do you see? Label the objects: monitor, computer, cell phone, iPad, chair, desk, window, rug, coffee cup - whatever you see. Don't judge it - just label it.
  
Where did it come from? Hydrogen and helium - light elements. That's right: this entire planet and everything on it came from two gases and a bunch of collisions and other nonsense - a literal explosion of the universal ego mind that attempted to make form from formlessness.

On some level, every "physical" object is a manipulation of light particles - that's it. Constantly shifting empty gases with no more solidity on a quantum level than a hologram.

Folks, we are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams. We are the architects of this hologram, both individually and collectively. The problem is that we have forgotten this. We believe we are solid - as is everything around us. We believe that we can make our external environments perfect by external activity: harder work, better organization, more thorough cleaning, etc. We believe that when things go wrong, there is someone to blame - often someone else - politicians, Mother Nature and even Acts of God. We also believe that only when we attain perfection will we be happy. Until then ...

We spend our lives chasing a mirage.

Perfection can never be achieved on the level of form. Why? Because "form" is in a constant state of flux. Because the universe of form, which started with the Big Bang, has been swirling around like dust in a Dyson for eons - creating galaxies, solar systems, stars, planets, landscapes, life forms and iPhones - whatever we want to dream up. Because the material world is comprised of a never-ending process of creation and destruction, and there's no permanent peace or joy to be found in impermanent objects - in things that will eventually change, deteriorate, break or even "die."

On the left, the intergalactic embryo that would become
my family room remodeling project, which will become something else ...
So, where is the good news in all of this, you ask? Well, the good news is that we are not form beings. We are, to quote Sting, spirits in a material world. We've created a cosmic funhouse for thrills and spills and have forgotten that it's just that: an illusory, kaleidoscopic theme park where we take the ride of our life - literally - and repeatedly, if you buy into reincarnation.

The good news is that the mess will not last - it's not even real. It's not even a "mess," which is a judgment call, anyway. In fact, if we stopped judging what we perceive as being good or bad, beautiful or ugly or clean or messy, we would find instant relief. But it's not easy to do; I've been working on it for years and am still working on it moment by moment, especially during this remodeling debacle.

Next time you see a mess - be it spilled milk on the table or spilled crude oil in the Gulf - close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Imagine the Big Bang, and remind yourself that it's all okay - that what you are seeing is simply a continuation of that original cosmic clusterfuck.