Monday, April 16, 2007

Space Making

I'm down to 31 hours before my plane leaves for Bombay and I'm in the final stretch of trip preparations. I've been busier the past few days packing and buying supplies than I was during my last few weeks of work! I was up until 5 am last night organizing, making to-do lists, and revamping my ipod selections. It's funny how staying up until 5 am for fun things is totally doable, whereas being stuck in the office until a similar time would be torture.

Other than getting soaked to the skin multiple times from the torrential downpours flooding New York, my trip preparations have been going pretty well. I've been downtown to EMS at least three times, first to buy my back pack and hiking shoes, then to return my hiking shoes, then to retrieve the credit card that the girl forgot to return to me at the end of my shoe transaction. At first I was annoyed that I had to go all the way back downtown, especially since I ended up wet, chilly, soaked to the skin, and feeling like a drowned rat. However, it turned out to be a great thing because the whole experience prompted me to invest in rain gear and a micro fleece for my trip. Bravo! If I hadn't forgotten my card I would have been woefully unprepared for the potentially wet, chilly evenings I may experience in the mountains up around Dharmashala.

Things still on my To Do List include:

(1) Get traveler's checks;
(2) Laundry;
(3) Get the last of my immunization shots;
(4) Buy a new journal;
(5) Mail things in the post office;
(6) Go to Duane Reade to pick up my immunization shots, medicine, and a travel alarm clock;
(7) Get legs and bikini wax;
(8) Get a massage and facial (Yay! Thanks Mom for the gift certificate!!);
(9) Finish packing;
(10) Make reservation for airport hotel in Bombay (for 5 hours since I'll be going on to Kolkata in the early morning);
(11) Call everyone I've been meaning to the last few days.

I was going to do a post listing every item I'm bringing with me on my trip, but at this point I'm not sure I'll have enough time to do it. Even though I'm attempting to pack light, there are so many things I'm bringing!! I'm going to try to be all packed by this evening and if I have to jettison some stuff, so be it.

By the way, I've been trying to think of the word "jettison" for the last 5 months, because that's what it has felt like I've been doing, working on jettisoning the jetsam in my life. Or, as my astrologist would say, "pruning" the unwanted elements out of my life. Others would say "letting go." Same concept. Suddenly, yesterday afternoon the word came to me. It is defined as follows: To cast overboard or off: a ship jettisoning wastes; a pilot jettisoning aircraft fuel.
Informal. To discard (something) as unwanted or burdensome.

Focusing on jettisoning the junk has been one half of the theme that has been dominating my life since November. The other half of the theme has been all about being open to receive positivity and love in my life. I know I have mentioned this before, but I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the changes that have occurred in my life during the last few months. In so many ways I am so different from the girl I was in November, the major difference being that I feel whole. Before, when I had all of those stresses ripping into my stomach, I felt emotionally shredded on a regular basis. To go from that to feeling a sense of well being along with hope, joy, and excitement for the future is awesome.

As I also mentioned, I've been reading a lot about this general theme of achieving personal happiness and/or freedom. The basic concept is all about pursuing what you believe in, making your life into the one that you want, and freeing yourself from negative distractions that get in the way of you fulfilling your destiny, your dream, your personal path, your ability to attain a state of bliss. If anyone is interested in checking out some good books on the subject I would suggest: The Alchemist, The Secret, and The Four Agreements.

I just finished the Four Agreements and felt like the whole book was speaking my present personal truth. A Mayan man named Pablo who teaches scuba diving on Isla Mujeres in Mexico, and who one day bought be a glass of wine while I was watching the sunset, recommended this book. It offered suggestions and perspectives on the very issues that I've been thinking about, and its messages resonated with me. The basic premise of the Four Agreements is that in order to achieve personal freedom, and to let go of the negative distractions that have stood in the way of the attainment of your personal freedom/bliss, you should make the following four agreements with yourself:

(1) Be impeccable with your word. "Being impeccable with your word is not using your word against yourself...[It] is the correct use of your energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself [and it will] clean all the emotional poison that exists within you."

I'm still trying to fully understand this lesson. An example of this lesson includes not gossiping (i.e. not spreading emotional poison), but instead using your word to spread positivity and love. The idea being that if you do this, it will bounce back on you as well because you will not be giving any cause to anyone else to have emotional poison against you. I think of myself as a fairly sweet, loving person but it's hard not to spread emotional poison. Sometimes being negative and cynical is highly amusing. For now, what I've taken from this is to try to be honest with myself, and to try to speak and act in accordance with my personal truth. It's a challenge but I think it's a worthy goal.

(2) Don't take anything personally - "Nothing other people do is because of you. It is about themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world."

This is a lesson that first came up in therapy for me. I tend to be sensitive and to take the actions and words of the people close to me personally, especially when my emotional reserves are weakened. I've been working on not taking things personally and this chapter was revelatory to me. It makes perfect sense and it goes along with the idea that the only person you can control is you. If others treat you poorly, you shouldn't take it personally, because it's not about you being bad or deficient in any way, it's about their stuff. Instead of taking it personally and allowing yourself to feel bad about it, see it for what it is - their stuff - and then do what you need to do to remove the negativity.

According to the book, "When we really see people as they are without taking it personally, we can never be hurt by what they say or do...If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you." Of course I read this and thought of EXBF, and tried to view his walking away as a gift to me. In my heart I know that it was a gift of sorts because I'm so much happier now than I was in that relationship. However, I still feel twinges of pain now and then. I haven't fully let go of the emotions tied to that relationship, and I haven't fully let go of the hurt I felt as a result of how he treated me. I know that in essence I did take his treatment of me personally, and I was very hurt by him. I've struggled with the idea that no one can make you feel hurt, you allow yourself to feel hurt. Half of me believes it, half of me doesn't. My opinion on this at the moment is that the second, third, and fourth times someone hurts you, you are "allowing them to hurt you," but the first time? I guess if you were totally zenned out and someone did something horrible to you for the first time, you could not take it personally, understand it was all about them and not you, and not feel pain. But, I have a long way to go before I reach that level. I'm working on it though.

(3) Don't make assumptions. "All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally...The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions. Make sure the communication is clear. If you don't understand, ask....The day you stop making assumptions you will communicate cleanly and clearly, free from emotional poison."

This is another great one, and a classic thing that I do that I know I shouldn't do. But it's so hard not to!! It takes courage to ask questions, and I'm trying to do that more, as opposed to jumping to conclusions. It's particularly tricky in the context of dating, because you have to go into it with a level of faith and trust and repress the urge to make assumptions. I consider myself quite smart so it almost seems counter intuitive sometimes to try to force myself to doubt what I believe to be true about someone, based on my experience. However, smart as I may be, I'm not in another person's skin and I appreciate that I can't truly understand someone else unless I ask them and allow them to tell me. I'm working on this too.

(4) Always do your best. Do your best to be impeccable with your word, not to take anything personally, and not to make assumptions. "Just do your best - in any circumstance in your life. It doesn't matter if you are sick or tired, if you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself. And if you don't judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment."

This is a beautiful lesson because it's all about silencing the inner Judge that we all have inside of us. If you make an agreement with yourself to do your best, the best that you are able to do under any given circumstance, and if you honor that agreement, then there will be nothing to beat yourself up about. I also like this lesson because it recognizes that Agreement 1-3 are very challenging, and it gives you space to not be perfect. As long as you are doing your best to be impeccable with your word, to not take things personally, and to not make assumptions, then you should be proud of yourself.

This was a much longer post than I had intended and my To Do List is calling me. Go out and pick up the Four Agreements and have a wonderful Monday!


Gypsy said...

I've had this book on a shelf for years. With your endorsement, I may actually pick it up and read it.

Buttercup said...

Gypsy - Check it out and let me know what you think. It's a very quick read. I read it in about a day or two, mostly while riding the subway.

Starshine said...

Happy trails, my friend!

InterstellarLass said...

Rain gear and microfleece...must have items for any traveler. Good buy. I'd be jettisoning items too if I had to carry my bag everywhere for a month.