Quantum physics has taught me that Reality (with a capital R) is basically impulses of energy and information. My reality (with a lowercase r) is made up of my own personal stories about those impulses and my interpretations of the information. Our shared reality is made up of our shared stories and interpretations.
We attach labels to the components of Reality. The basic set of labels about events, persons, and relationships tends to be good-fortunate-blessed or bad-unfortunate-cursed. The impulse to “hold,” we label kind (and good) and the impulse to “hit,” we label mean (and bad); the impulse to gather with others is labeled sociable (and good) and the impulse to isolate, unsociable (and bad).
We have all kinds of fixed interpretations running through our heads, filtering Reality into nice neat categories. They seem “set in stone” because they’ve become so habitual and automatic. Yet we do have a choice about the stories and interpretations we use to make some sense of our lives, challenges, and relationships.
I like Ecclesiastes and its “seasonal” interpretation: there is a time to hate and a time to love, a time to build up and a time to break down, a time to accept and a time to flail against what is. Isn’t it true that the universe is both violent and creative, both destructive and cooperative? That dissolution is as essential in the dance of life as creation and conception? Isn’t it true that birth, death, and rebirth are partners in that same dance?
My friend Karen and I memorized Rumi’s poem “The Guest House” to prepare for her surgery. We spoke the words to each other through her hysterectomy (during which surgeons “swept her empty”) and through subsequent chemo-treatments.
Rumi’s words remind me to neither elevate nor despise any of life’s twists and turns. Today I receive them as seasonal, not harsh, as energetic shifts, not evil or good occurrences. Today I choose to look at my life through the lens of Rumi’s poem, even when my friend Karen died, even when a “crowd of sorrows” violently swept her from my life. Even then.
This being human is a guest house.
Every day is a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He or she may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door, laughing,
and invite them it.
Be grateful for whoever comes
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
What filter do you use to make sense of your life? Was it inherited or chosen by you? Is it expansive enough, gracious enough to hold both and all aspects of the micro and macro universe: dissolution and creativity, dominance and partnership, life and death? This being human is a guest house. Every day is a new arrival.
Patricia Lynn Reilly is the founder of Imagine a Woman International and BAB Coaching and Publication Services. If you’re ready to author your own self-understanding, read about our self-guided Retreat “Author Your Own Life” here: www.imagineawoman.com/home/programs-services/womanspirit-community. If you’d like to join our Team of Certified Coaches, visit here: www.imagineawoman.com/home/programs-services/iaw-certification