“My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon.” –Mizuta Masahide (17th century Japanese poet and samurai)
Our barns do burn down and when they do, something great might be possible. We have to look for the opportunities to grow through all of that pain. Life often presents us with difficult, painful experiences that are unexplainable. Not what we reckoned. Even if we acted good, wore the right clothes, sat still in church, knew all of the right people, life is not how we imagined it. We see the atrocities of war, acts of terrorism, human rights abuses, slavery, trafficking, opiate epidemics effecting newborns, and wild fires acting like wrecking balls through west coast villages. These are not planned. They might not ever result in epiphany or revelation. They might not be learning experiences.
Our difficulties I am learning come with the turf of being human in a hard life. I have notable suffering that dots my timeline in a semi-random fashion. I have also had prolonged and sometimes startlingly occasions of triumphant joy. I have had bad moments, bad days and entirely bad years.
When my mother passed 5 years ago, and my marriage was on the rocks because of the stress of my full-time care-taking of her, I wasn’t taking care of myself, and couldn’t possibly give anymore. Not to anyone. Not even to myself. My barn, so to speak, completely burnt down. Ashes. I was flattened. Heartbroken. Pancakeville.
But, out of the ashes, like the Phoenix, I experienced an entire life over-haul. I allowed myself to do what I needed to do. I snapped out of it, almost in a one flash moment, as if a coconut just dropped on my head and screamed, “Wake Up!” I fell silent, stopped doing, stopped trying to make things happen. Stopped trying to control all of my surroundings trying to prevent suffering from happening.
In my crash, on the floor I began to clear the debris. I found stuff I love. I started writing again after a 20 year hiatus. I picked up my camera and started taking pictures of what I wanted to take pictures of. Of what I needed to take pictures of. I let go of my photography business, because my inspiration was moving beyond portraiture. There was an awakening of something much larger. A purpose that is still trying to poke out, but is liberating. Infinitely happier.
Is that a moon I see up there?
I can look back from a Garuda Advantage (clear- over-head seeing-flying above to see the whole picture), I can see the shifts that took place, that are still taking place. I write everyday now, and take pictures nearly every day.
I know that dukkha (suffering of life) is bound to happen. We are spiritual beings living a human life. Timing sucks. We don’t have magic 8 balls to predetermine when the worst is going to happen. Why? Just Because. We are supposed to scrape our knees, get banged up, scarred, shaken, and at times even flattened.
If we are open to seeing the moon, especially that larger than life Harvest Moon, we have to allow for the barn to devastatingly burn down. There is a deeper awareness now. This place of ash is where my strength and resiliency comes from. I see the world now as a beautiful place, even including the bad news, even the suffering. It is all supposed to happen. Difficult is difficult, but difficult is not impossible.
The moon comes into view and suddenly the world has changed. I can take in the good, see the generosity of others, share in compassion, understanding, grace, and unconditional love even in the most desperate of times. The barn burning down in my life has been a blessing. To learn of the boundlessness of the human spirit in moments of scarcity as well as abundance.
When disaster strikes and we are brought to our knees, I believe we come to know who we are and what we are made of. I have mindfully committed to live my life from this place, where I don’t want to forget the hurt of my mother dying, of the moments when I took my marriage for granted, because that sets my daily intention to live today. To choose to have an open heart, to be compassionate, to help others, to inspire others to do the same, to live in truth, to see the beauty, to wallow in stillness, and indulge in inner peace, to thrive in good times and bad. I decide without a doubt to See The Moon.
(photo credit given to Gary Heller...thank you)