I’ve reached the next stage of transition. What are Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief? I remember being introduced to them in a Simpson’s episode as Homer went through each one in a caricatured accelerated pace. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I don’t quite know if I’m following this model but i’m certainly moving through something. I went through the find-out-everything-I-can-that’s-interesting-in-this-town stage. Volleyball is on Thursday’s at the Mary Hall gym in the college campus but Kim said no one is showing up now that the semester is over. The tango workshop was full, tai-chi still happens at the Central School gym Tuesdays and Thursdays. Chris was kind enough to phone me back right away and let me know it’s qi gong *and* tai chi. Perfect. Of course there are numerous other interesting things happening around here. Some of the things I’ve participated in but I see in many ways I was branching out because I needed to give the impression to myself that I was branching out without actually branching out. Now, I feel like I’m ready to branch out.
So where does that leave me in this transition stage countdown? Is there any denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance? Maybe I’ve denied just how it is I ideally wanted to flow into this transition. I wanted to get a job, fill my time, impose structure on to. But wait, I’ve had an exaggerated amount of structure in my life lately. Now’s the time to relax a little bit. To play guitar and do hatha, go for bike rides and draw. I was denying the internal reconfiguring my cells have been doing these past three weeks. I see now just how much of a resettling I’ve been able to do.
What about anger? Anger exists in a variety of forms that don’t necessarily include yelling and throwing things. I’ve had my moments of anger. Of feeling like I’ve wanted to shake off and be done with old patterns and ways of doing things despite being fully entrenched in them still. I’ve also had moments of denial that I am still entrenched in them.
Bargaining. Hoo boy. I’ll step out of this bargaining mode if you can tell me one good reason to. Bargaining keeps me in “us versus them” mode. It removes me from being an active participant in life. It places a barrier between what my current reality and what I think that I want for myself. It is refusal to accept.
Before acceptance comes depression. Life is a flow. There are ups and downs. Every human has them. What would we be without them? What I’ve noticed over my time at the Ashram is that for many people there is this initial rush of excitement and pleasure at arriving at such an oasis of a place. Like a newlywed couple in their honeymoon stage, people who connect with the Ashram often experience a heart opening that hints at the wonder of life, the wonder of each moment. It could be a moment of pause crossing the lushness under the bridge that caresses Krishna creek, or the first “Om” in Satsang. There’s this wonderful moment where fullness happens. Where happiness exists – perceived externally only because it is reflected out from people’s own selves. What is opened up after these moments is the ability to delve into the space created and dig around in the mud. The more expansive my ecstasy, the more minute microbes I can inspect that are revealed to be the sources of my pain and fear, habits and reactions. The cycle of life is full of ups and downs. Joy opens the arms that can hold depression.
Sometimes I feel like I didn’t know what happiness really was until a few years ago. I would gently perceive hints of it until I got pulled back down into the muck. Lotus flowers grow out of mud. There are certainly moments of sadness or confusion but to see them held in the ever-growing reality of placeless bliss that is the nature of all things is really quite astounding. I am carrying this seed of consciousness inside of me and it is nourishing a happiness that is not dependant on other factors, is neither quelled nor fanned by wind. It simply exists and I get to watch it with rapt attention.
Perhaps this is what acceptance is. Yes, acceptance of others in their differences, in alternate ways of doing things and respect for diversity, but also acceptance as a pre-emptive verb. I am given something, I am given life, and I accept it. I will take it and live it fully without fear and with an open heart.
These states all exist alongside me as I continue on in this journey of transition. I am not solely in any one of them, but all of them simultaneously as I make plans and elaborate castles in the sky, then watch them disintegrate with new information and realizations. I dip into moments of bliss, self-pity, service or fear. Through it all I hope that I am able to carry with me the crown of acceptance for whatever it is that I am experiencing right now. As well as carry the magic and wonder of just how the next stage will unfold.