Fire and Ice
9"x 12" mixed media on canvas
Occasionally, I will meet adherents who ask the inevitable question, "What made you decide to start on this journey?" My answer remains the same every time.

My path has never been about finding God. This is what many spiritual teachers tell their students. It's also why I don't claim to be one. That God exists or doesn't exist wasn't the question for me.

The truth is I was angry. In fact, I don't think there's ever been a time when I haven't been angry. It's a wave of anger so raw, it's cold. You freeze out emotion, people, life. Intellectual Stoicism was my refuge from the love I never had and the acceptance I always craved. I was an Ice Queen standing in an emotional blizzard, burning bridges with my actions.

So I required the guidance of Teachers who have also been angry to deal. You see, anger is fear by another name. We only notice it when it erupts with volcanic intensity in our daily lives. We tend to ignore anger as it smolders beneath the surface of the mind. But eventually, we'll have to dig down into the core of ourselves to realize our angst is coming from our sense of identity.

During my first meditation class years ago, a Buddhist monk asked us, "Who is 'I'? Can you see this thing called 'I'? Have any of you ever tasted, touched or felt this 'I'?"

As we stared at him in bafflement, he went on to explain that "I" is a construct of the ego that obstructs our vision from truly seeing reality. But if you haven't explored those dark places inside, you'll be stuck on this question just like we were at the time.

On my own path, it took me a long time to stop identifying myself with my absentee parents. When you are related to dysfunctional people, it's rather like a stain you carry with you. You'll exhaust yourself like Lady Macbeth to rid your psyche of these imaginary imperfections. Yet most of the time, you will end up repeating the same bad decisions that landed your relatives in hot water despite your efforts.

Why do we make these bad decisions in the first place? Because we're angry. And eventually, you'll have to decide what you want to do about it.

My answer was using intellect as a shield. The smarter I am, I reasoned, the better I'll be able to avoid getting hurt. Oh my, what a heavy load of bullshit that was! There's nothing logical about loving someone. There's also no rationality in continuing to care about abusive people who have hurt you the worst. It's just human nature.

After I dove into the depths of myself, I realized I was emotionally still a parentless child just looking to be loved. To be parentless in our society is to spend your childhood as a negation of a person. You see yourself as less than nothing.

So I set out on my journey to find a way to stop being so terribly angry that I wasn't loved, cared for or wanted. I searched for the acceptance I lacked. Yet it never once occurred to me that I needed to love myself first. I'd been under the mistaken impression that love was something other people gave you. And when I finally understood that, I found that I wasn't angry at all.

Instead, I became aware of this well of fear inside of me. At the bottom was a dark hatred I reserved only for myself. None of my issues were about my family, my experiences, or even how messed up the world had become. It was all about how much I detested ME.

The infinite choices on the spectrum of free will allow us to also conjure up an infinite number of justifications for how we choose to portray ourselves in this life. We can spend our time believing Life is something that happens to us instead of being a force operating through us. We can be broken victims crashing on the rocky shores of Fate, allowing external events to capsize our existences.

Or we can live out loud, love who are and learn to swim. We can choose to be wiser than that. But here's the thing: no teacher out here is going to give you a reason to confront your own bullshit. You have to do that for yourself.

And that's what the path is about: finding your reasons. If you can't find yours right now, then focus on making this world better for us all. Maybe your reason will appear as you confront your dark spaces along the way.

But just know that in all you do,
every version of YOU is loved, cherished and necessary.
Be well on your path today. 


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