Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reflections & Musings: We all need a lifeguard.


"The best day of your life
is the one on which you decide
your life is your own. 
No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. 
The gift of life is yours: 
it is an amazing journey; 
and you alone are responsible 
for the quality of it."
-Dan Zadra

Just a little bit ago, I went for a walk on the beautiful beach just a quick walk outside my apartment. I love the entire approach to "my beach," as I like to call it, because there are plenty of evenings that I am the solitary human soul strolling beneath the moonlight. From the slightly hilly perch where my studio sits, I can see the horizon of the water in the distance. She, the Ocean, welcomes me with a smile as I take one step and then another closer towards her.

Nearing the railroad track, I step on bits of bark and granite rocks in my flip flops and from this vantage point, the Ocean disappears for just a moment, but I know She's still there. As I cross the 101, I put a little hop in my step and walk through the campground entrance, where I'm quickly greeted by the delicious smell of Bull Taco's "inauthentic Mexican" food (as they like to call it) and it always puts a smile on my face to hear the al fresco diners exclaim with delight at how good the burrito they're biting into is. 

Moments later, I arrive at the top of a zig-zagging wooden stairway where I can see La Jolla all the way to the left and Swami's all the way to the right. I always take a moment to pause, to soak up the entire vista, before beginning my descent down to the sand.

Today, it was super low tide and the sand was firm beneath my bare footsteps. Bits of reef outlined the sandbar like charcoal etchings against a fading brown. I expressed gratitude to myself for granting a break to bask in the sunshine, because it's incredibly easy to get caught up sitting in front of my laptop, manifesting ideas into fruition, and becoming a recluse while sending e-mails into the ether (which Caroline Myss likes to call "energy-mail"). 

As I was walking, a lifeguard drove by slowly, patrolling the area to my left. When he pulled in front of me a little bit away, I caught sight of the lettering on the back of his white truck bed. In big block red/gold/black letters, it read: "L-I-F-E-G-U-A-R-D." My brain, as it sometimes does, started to dissect the etymology of the word — some musicians find reading music as logical as mathematics; I find the same happens for me with language. 

I began to wonder about the lifeguard whose job it is to save someone, a total stranger, if they're in distress, if they're in danger, if they simply can't save themselves. That, that very incredibly important thing, is his daily job! And I thought, 'If he can perform that very noble act for someone he doesn't know, what about us? Are we doing this for ourselves? Are we our own lifeguards?' 

I'd venture to say that the answer is, "not very often," because from personal experience, I have indulged in things and thoughts and behaviors that do not serve my prana (life force): I've been in relationships that have hurt me deeply, ones I should've exited a long time prior to the actual expiration date had I a healthy enough respect for my self-worth; I've eaten — and regurgitated — foods that make me feel horrible; I've told myself plenty of mean, mean stories (sometimes silently, sometimes aloud) on repeat.

It's so much easier to want someone else to save you. It takes the onus away from ourselves, and with that, goes personal responsibility. The blame moves from me to wherever our fingers can wag. After all, taking care of ourselves is a very grown-up thing to do. In fact, my friend Patty once told me, "As an adult, your job is not to take care of anyone else unless they're infirm or unable. You can care for someone else, but you don't take care of them." It takes a lot of maturity and wherewithal and introspection to be a grown-up. And, while the tasks may be simple, "simple" is not necessarily synonymous with "easy." 

I am happy to say that today, I am indeed my own lifeguard. I have placed myself in positions where I am surrounded by good energy and hearty abundance, where I can look in all directions and find loads of love and tons of support. When times become challenging, I save myself by looking first within, exploring the learning experience being offered to me, relying upon the right resources (which includes trusting my personal faith), and then moving through the emotions towards the Truth. I don't let fear hold me back from doing the hard thing, from making the healthy choice, though if I hesitate and if I make mistakes, I now approach myself my with compassion, forgiveness, and grace.

Truly, I am blessed beyond belief — so many of my wildest dreams have come true in the past couple of years that I sometimes shake my head in amazement. I know this was partly due to my will and perseverance (I'm pretty darn bull-headed when it comes to going after what I want), but it was also largely due to learning how to let go and love what is. 

That latter part? It's a doozy, especially for someone who grew up in a severely chaotic environment where control was the only thing that I thought would bring any semblance of sanity to my life. That sanity however, turned into insanity in high school and college and long afterward, when I developed an eating disorder that (ironically) nearly consumed all of me. Over time, and with an inordinate amount of dedication to wanting to be better, I found that little by little, the more I let go, the more I enabled goodness that had been trying to come into my life for so long to finally arrive. On every exhale, I continually made space to surrender, so that with every inhale, I began to welcome in exactly what I needed to thrive.

A dear Craniosacral friend of mine, Gary, sent me a text on New Year's Day: "May 2012 bring you what you need, rather than what you want. (It's a Scottish thing.)"

I replied: "Well, hopefully they're one and the same — that's what the Dalai Lama says brings true contentment."

Let's all of us aim to be our own lifeguards. We never know when the elements within and around us can suddenly become overwhelming, when we might get tired, or possibly lose our way. Sometimes, even if we're calling out for help, an obvious rescue may not be close enough. Instead, if we can rely on ourselves and find ways to be our very own heroes, then we're doing that very important thing again and again as though it were our daily job.

What have you done today to be your very own lifeguard?

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