Remember when you were a kid and someone told you that if you made a certain horrible face too many times it would stay that way?
They were right, it turns out.
You just don’t know, when you’re young, that there is going to be this moment when you first notice the face in the mirror. “Oh,” you think, “Look at that. Look at those wrinkles. I’ve done that so many times that my face has LITERALLY stayed that way. So, now I’m here, at this stage. I’m in the beginning of the face-staying stage.” And you remember that you’re thirty-seven and that you are TWENTY years older than when you couldn’t believe your eighteenth birthday would ever come.
I know, blah blah blah old age and getting older and suprise-suprise it’s you too.
But it’s not the wrinkles that I’m worried about, actually. It’s the way my soul has gotten stuck from doing the same thing over and over again. Yes, I’ve grown. I’ve changed. Some. But I don’t think I’ve paid enough attention to all the little habits that make up my life...the little habits that have gotten stuck, the scaffolding of my well-being, the face of my inward self.
When I was in high school I had the greatest math teacher ever. She literally made an entire class sit on the edge of our seats while she lectured. In Advanced Math, a class of seven boys and me, we witnessed this whirlwind of passion and expression as she furiously laid out the explanation for us of the connection between pi and sine and cosine. She was madly writing, chalk dust flying, and ended with a dramatic slam of chalk in one final point. She turned around to gaping mouths and eight enlightened minds. My friend Mike said, “OH. So this is why we’ve been learning everything we’ve been learning up until now.”
But have I been memorizing the right equations? Have I been repeating the right phrases to myself? Have I been building the foundation to equip myself for this time in my life?
Because, from what I’ve borne witness to lately, this time in life requires strength, grit, health, flexibility, endurance, compassion and, above all, love. This time in life is filled with the hardest things - sickness, injury, tragedy, the pain of others you love, and loss. The older you get, the deeper you love and the more you stand to lose. The losses are deeper and wider. And everyone around you is going through them.
Have I been making the same horrible inward face of fear?
Can I replace that face with a face of love?
Can I make the same inward face of love so many times that I get stuck that way?
What qualities do I want to get stuck doing?
How can I benefit the world by memorizing the right words, practicing the right habits, strengthening the right muscles?
Because the world needs me to be healthy, strong, flexible, enduring, kind, compassionate and loving. The world does not need me to be beautiful, wealthy, busy and wasteful.
A Great Need - by Hafiz
Of a great need
We are all holding hands
Not loving is letting go.
The terrain around here