Last night I dreamt about the movie Face off with Nicolas Cage and John Travolta. If you haven’t seen this movie, the characters surgically have their faces exchanged,(i.e. Nicolas has John’s face and vice versa). It is a suspense/thriller if you like that kind of movie.

I know this dream was prompted by a recent surgery of mine. No I didn’t have my entire faced removed. Who would be the other person to agree to this swap if I did? I had a basal cell cancer removed from my left cheek. Yeah, it’s not a big deal. All the cancer is gone and I am lucky. However, looking at my misshapen face at this point is jarring and disconcerting. I know that I am not my face but reality tells me that I definitely identify with my face, perhaps more than I thought I did.

Walking around with initially a large white gauzy dressing, then little sticky steri strips, and now just with a pink raised incision line and still crooked smile, I am greeted with averted faces and uncomfortable stares. Or, am I just making this story up in my head due to my own misguided perception of self, not being particularly fond of my new appearance. What a great lesson this experience is for me. I am not my looks, I know. The essence of me is far deeper and much more expansive. Why the struggle?

In perfect timing, I had the good fortune of spending time with visiting Tibetan Buddhist monks who spent many hours and days creating their masterpiece of an intricate, brightly colored sand mandala, only to brush it away with respect and joy, ceremonially throwing the sand into the local river for it to be taken in by Mother Earth; a reminder of impermanence and our foolishness in thinking that we can actually hold onto anything. Life is impermanent, period, as are all things. Job, looks, friends, family, home; all are transient. All of them could be gone in a blink of an eye. Just thinking about the possibilities makes me quiver. The only eternal thing is the everlasting soul, our Essence.

Putting my day’s checklist in order often feeds the illusion that I can control what I cannot. Still the years pass by ever so quickly, the hours, the minutes, often with me missing out on nurturing events, people connections, walking on this magnificent earth while I instead choose to concentrate on my busyness, and placate my restlessness with the inventory of accomplishments. The tick of the house clock almost mocks me as if to say “Hey you, the one with so much given to you, go out and love the world, love all beings, say what is yours to say, dance, fall down, get up, laugh smile, GET AWAY from your phone and computer, be free, frolic, dare to be different, don’t wait….”

“Loving what is” a mantra of Byron Katie’s, emphasizes that we are foolish to choose otherwise. If we deny what is, then what do we have left? We often hang onto creative ingeniously contrived explanations to filter our reality that at times provide us solace, but deprive us of living authentically. This delusory practice cuts into those precious minutes, those measured breaths we have now, never to have again!

Many of you recognize these truths already. These are built in tenets of yoga, philosophy, of life itself. But I need reminders. Maybe you do too? I enthusiastically invite you to dance and celebrate with me. Instead of making that daily, mundane “to do” list, go out and greet your neighbors. Perhaps that is the list! How many lives can we touch in a day? I look around and so many people are on their phones, taking “selfies,” when someone near them is desperate for human contact. I am certain I am guilty of this habit, too!

I know my physical wounds will heal. I have friends with much more serious medical issues who would love to be in my shoes. In fact, I feel a bit sheepish focusing on this issue. After all, I am much more than my face and my face will heal. Even if it doesn’t, I should not be lessened by it. But, to acknowledge my struggle is hopefully a part of the healing for others and me.

Who knows what the future will bring? As I hear the clicking of my clock in the background, my cheerleader of sorts, with its steady reminder of life’s progression urging me to seize the day, I venture out, excited and inspired to craft my own mandala, a tapestry of color and interest, which defies the critics of the “shoulds” and “woulds,” from folks on the outside and especially that persistent, convincing voice from within. Along with the amazing monks, I am invested and focused but let go of any attachment; the need for recognition, the inclination to preserve or to keep as mine.

Join me in this dance of the Essence of Self. The journey is so much easier if we support and encourage each other. This allowance of our greatest, most magnificent, connected, vibrant Self to flourish is what the world needs now, as it always has, and always will. I need to “face” this truth. How about you?

Ellyn       6/6/17

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