It’s the holiday season, and that isn’t easy for me. There’s all sorts of family crap that happens (and many of you will be able to relate to that, I’m sure). I am thankful for a great many gifts/talents, people, situations, and opportunities in my life, and I acknowledge that far more often than once per year on a day designated Thanksgiving. With that in mind, what I was most thankful for these last few days was that Thanksgiving happens only once per year. It was an intense time, and although I came through it mostly unscathed and only a tad irritated for the most part, I did feel the need to do some retail therapy.
I went to the bookstore, and without realizing the context of it at the time, I gravitated directly toward the Tao and Zen sections. About 24 hours later I recognized what had happened subconsciously: I thought I was just craving to learn something new, but I was actually responding to a deep need for calm and centering after an excruciating evening with Dad. I am so glad I was on autopilot that day. I found a fantastic little collection of Zen teachings/reminders called “The Zen Book” by Daniel Levin. One of the very first reminders reads as follows:
as you are.
With all your flaws and problems,
there’s no need to change anything.
All you need to change is the thought
that you have to change.”
That evening my best friend of my whole life called me. She told me she earned her first chip from AA, which is awesome (except that I had no idea she was drinking to excess, let alone that she needed intervention of that kind). We talked at length, and she has accomplished Step 1: Admitting that alcohol controls her, and that she has a problem with which she cannot cope alone. The next step is to acknowledge that a power greater than herself can help her achieve peace, and so she is flailing between Steps 1 and 2. I advised her that now is not the moment to go back to Christianity (a religion that put her on the road to all her self-destructive excesses in the first place), because she doesn’t need salvation, forgiveness, blame, guilt, shame, or anything else that Christians tend to offer (Christ was a rockin’ dude, but his followers are generally festering pricks). I read the mantra above to her, suggested she look for a belief system outside of the monotheism traditions, and she replied,
“But I definitely DO need to change.”
“No, it’s your behavior that needs to change. You are perfect.” And I thought I was pretty accurate in saying that.
I was absolutely wrong…
My best friend IS perfect exactly as she is. Her not accepting that caused her the angst and pain that lead her toward this latest incarnation of chaos. Her behavior doesn’t need to change. Her life doesn’t need to change. Her body doesn’t need to change. Her mind doesn’t need to change. Her spirit doesn’t need to change. Nothing about her needs to change. And when she knows that she won’t need to drink anymore. It’s not that her actions need to change – those are only symptoms of the underlying problem. She is perfect already, but she can’t enjoy that perfection as long as she is ignoring it.
We are perfect people who have forgotten our divinity.
As we go forward into the season of New Year Resolutions, perhaps the only change we actually need to embrace is the way we allow ourselves to be the gods we were born to be? My self-esteem issues, her drinking, your temper, his weight, their anger, our fear… All of that goes away when we channel this fundamental insight: We are perfect exactly as we are, and all we have to do is accept it. If it were simple this world would already be heaven.