“From the wise old pinnacle of my years, I can tell you that what you’re looking for is already inside of you. You’ve heard this before, but the holy thing inside you really is that which causes you to seek it. You can’t buy it, lease it, rent it, date it, or apply for it. The best job in the world can’t give it to you. Neither can success, or fame, or financial security –– besides which, there ain’t no such thing.
It can be confusing – most of your parents want you to do well, to be successful… They want you to love, and be loved, and find peace, and laugh and find meaningful work. But they also – some of them, a few of them (not yours –– yours are fine) – they also want you to chase the bunny for a while. To get ahead, sock some money away, and then to find a balance between the bunny chase and savoring your life.
But you don’t know whether you’re going to live long enough to slow down, relax and have fun, and discover the truth of your spiritual identity. You may not be destined to live a long life; you may not have sixty more years to discover and claim your own deepest truth….
It might be helpful if I go ahead and tell you what I think is the truth of your spiritual identity… Actually, I don’t have a clue.
I do know you are not what you look like, or how much you weigh, or how you did in school or whether you start a job on Monday or not. Spirit isn’t what you do, it’s….well, I don’t know.
I know that you feel it best when you’re not doing much –– when you’re in nature, when you’re very quiet or, paradoxically, listening to music.
…You can close your eyes and feel the divine spark concentrating in your, like a little Dr. Seuss firefly. It flickers with life and relief, … It’s magic to see Spirit, largely because it’s so rare.
…But you are not your bank account, or your ambition. You’re not the cold lump of clay you leave behind when you die. You’re not your collection of walking personality disorders.
…You are Spirit, you are love, and even when though it’s hard to believe sometimes, you are free. You are here to love, and be loved, freely. If you find out next week that you are terminally ill – and we’re all terminally ill on this bus – what will matter are memories of beauty, that people loved you, and that you loved them.
So how do we feed and nourish our spirit, and the spirit of others? First find a path, and a little light to see by. Then push up your sleeves and start helping. Every single spiritual tradition says that you must take care of the poor, or you are so doomed that not even Jesus or Buddha can help you.
You don’t have to go overseas. There are people in this country who are poor in spirit, worried, depressed, dancing as fast as they can; their kids are sick or their retirement savings are gone. There is great loneliness among us, life-threatening loneliness. People have given up on peace and equality. I would recommend that you take a long deep breath, and stop; Just be where your butts are and breathe. Take some time…
Refuse to cooperate with anyone who is trying to shame you into hopping right back up on to the rat exercise wheel. Rest, but pay attention. Refuse to cooperate with anyone who is stealing your freedom, your personal and civil liberties, and then smirk about it.”
- Anne LaMott, Plan B
I know quoting someone else isn’t considered writing, but there is so much in this speech, by Anne LaMott to a graduating class, that resonates with me.
I am about to board a plane to South Africa to visit my family. I have ‘a little light to see by’ and I am going to push up my sleeves and hopefully do a little helping.
But more then caring for the poor, this trip is about refusing to chase the bunny, about being with people that I love, and breathing because no one lives forever.
It’s about the things that you cannot buy, you cannot rent, and you cannot apply for.
It’s about exercising the freedom that we have, that sometime fades into the status quo.
It’s about loving the people in our lives with more than birthday cards and the occasional phone call.
It’s about sharing a cup of tea, rather than a facebook message, because no emoticon can teach me the expression of laughter on my grandmother’s face.
It’s about jumping, because I know that my wings are strong.
It’s about going home to walk the blurred streets of childhood dreams and about making peace with the unforeseen road ahead.
It’s about acting out of who I know I am, instead of waiting for someone to give me permission.
I hope that wherever you find yourself this holiday season that you will reflect on the fact that what you are looking for is already inside of you- and if you stop long enough, you may just find that it is magical…