By Anila Vasudeva
Growing up does not end when we put away our school uniform. It’s a lifelong enterprise that is hard, but also good.
It’s such a strange phrase we use when young, little realizing that we continue to grow up all our life. It’s hard to grow up, but it’s good too, especially when you come to understand that you’re not just growing up – you’re growing towards something. It’s an indefinable something for most of the time, a something that is searching to reach the spirituality of your being. Many of us find it hard to admit to a spirituality, to others and even to ourselves, and yet much of life’s currents ebb and rise around that very core. This year I’ve done some more growing up at age 45. It’s been hard, but it’s been good. I look around and recognize others my age and older also growing, the ones who never believed the myth that first you grow up, and then you grow old.
This has been a year of revelations. This has been a year in which I have come to believe that many much-bandied sayings may perhaps be true. Like, ‘Be careful what you ask for, you may receive it’, and ‘If you don’t do what’s good for you, sometimes God nudges you’, and that’s hard, but good. This has been a year when I have finally allowed other, and sometimes completely conflicting, perspectives to be included in my reality. Or perhaps I have finally experienced the truth that there is no ‘my reality’ – it is a reality made up of many hues, something we all know and even accept, but is often difficult to include and live with. This has been a year when I have come an arm’s length closer to surrender. An arm’s length is a long way to travel, and yet I have miles to go…
I have learned it is true that we have to unlearn our religion and learn our faith anew. To be able to say but also mean ‘God, do with me as you will, not as I wish’, has been hard. Most of our prayers are usually conditional. ‘I bow to Thy will and I know You will do what is best for me. Please make sure my husband stays healthy, my son does well, my home is peaceful, I get that job, the flight reaches safely, and the hurricane spares our town…’ Slowly, I am learning to make my being unconditional, and it is hard. Sometimes I get help. Recently, my son was seemingly worrying about something his Dad has been working towards, so I said, with the usual motherly urge to make things better, ‘Don’t worry honey, it’ll be fine. Just pray to God’. He looked at me quizzically and said, ‘Do you really ask God for stuff like this?’ Touché.
I have learned that love and friendship don’t pan out the way you think they will. Life doesn’t pan out the way you think it will. And I have learned it’s OK. Sometimes it works out even better than you imagined. And you learn to stop imagining and second-guessing. Slowly, you learn to just live – and then whatever happens, is wonderful, since you imagined nothing.
Ever since I did my first Isha Yoga program and discovered Sadhguru (or maybe Sadhguru allowed me to discover him!), the surrender has gently begun. Twice, when I was lucky enough to be near him, I had nothing to ask. Suddenly, I was still, almost empty, perhaps waiting for him to do his will. When I could talk, I said, ‘I have nothing to say, nothing to ask for. It seems I’m just waiting.’ And he said, that morning, ‘No more waiting’ and smiled. And my life changed that very day in a seemingly disruptive manner.
The funny thing was that while family, friends and loved ones were outraged on my behalf, I felt incredibly free. I felt free to surrender to a divine intent and therefore certainly, surely, the intent of my own inner being. My externals seemed disrupted, I was presented with someone else’s truths – not necessarily palatable, not essentially true, I was ostensibly accused … and yet, for me it was like my paths were cleared, my perceptions changed, a burden lifted. It was like being led gently away from a clutch of negative space that I needed to move out of, and through the initial quiet numbness of unfamiliar territory, and through the external vocalization of change and betrayal, there bubbled a surge of lightness and brightness. I was growing up. I was growing towards something. Suddenly the world wasn’t about me. What was happening wasn’t about me. I wasn’t the most important thing in the world. That is a lot of freedom.
It has also been a year of an unexpected gratitude. Unexpected, because we usually say thank you for things we have wanted and asked for; unexpected, because we usually respond to betrayals of life with bitterness and resentment, not gratefulness. I have instead been allowed to recognize that life doesn’t betray us. Life just is; the betrayal is in our responses. Everything that happens is an opportunity to respond joyfully or painfully. (Did Sadhguru say that?)
Through a phase which should have been difficult and tumultuous and made me cynical and insecure, I have been granted a freedom to continue to be joyous and loving and open and honest and, most importantly, loved. Over time, I have also discovered that someone is always there to love me and care for me through every turn and plunge of my life. So too, through this changing year there have been webs of love woven around and under me, subtle and gentle, yet with enough strength to let me find my own way.
I have been allowed to continue to be this way, and yet include every other way that there may be, without judgment. Suddenly, I am not outraged. I just am. And I am grateful.
It has been a year of revelations and a year of growing up and towards joy. God nudged me. It’s been hard, but, better than that, it’s been good.
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