It’s difficult to explain the transition back to our day to day lives after spending an intense week on a life changing journey. Some of us have been having a difficult time adjusting to our usual world. This piece was written by a friend of SURF. She did similar humanitarian work and was able to use these words to move past her pain and heartache. We hope you enjoy these beautiful words as much as we did.
Dearest friend, on your way home, from a life changing journey on the other side of the world,
You left on a mission to help others; you want to bring that back into your life, and cultivate it going forward. Keeping your heart open will be your greatest gift to others going forward, including when you go back into your “daily life”.
When you walk into the world of your comfortable “first world” environment, with such an incomprehensible amount of abundance all around you, you will invariably be shocked. You may feel totally amazed at how much even the poorest among us has, and astonished to hear anyone complain about lack, in any measure. You may feel angry, and annoyed, that so few people seem to really “get it”- numbed out in their comfortable lives and completely unaware of what else is happening for so many people in other parts of the world- for which, if they even got a glimpse, they would bow first in shame and then in prostration. In fact, it may be difficult for you to hear about anything that isn’t about being overwhelmingly grateful for life, or else isn’t a humanitarian crisis, because you’ve just gotten so close up and personal with the belly of life, in this way, that everything else pales in purpose. It would be easy, from this place, to close down, and shut yourself deep inside, away from the world, and to decide that no one can understand your experience who hasn’t just lived it. And it is true, many cannot. And, some can, so try to connect with those people, who also live a life on purpose, and are guided by the quests for truth and love at their core. Absolutely take care to share with people who will give you the space to feel however you feel, and who truly nourish you, and your feelings of well- being and peace.
And, most importantly, try to remember this one thing: we are all connected by a desire to be happy and to find peace. This is the one thing to remember if you remember anything as you walk into your life again. Make a point to look into the eyes of people around you, even those with rich lives but poor attitudes, and remember that everyone is breathing that same intention inside. Every single person is alive trying to find happiness and peace. The person being rude to the checker at the grocery store, acting entitled and impatient and harsh? She’s just wanting love, and has lost her connection to it, and is afraid. Her prickly anger is just her vulnerable fear, protected, fear that perhaps she’s somehow outside of Love. She’s not, just like you are not, when you also get lost. And you will get lost, being human. Sometimes we just take detours, but we never totally stray from the path. From this experience, you also just got way closer to that intention in your own life, to live from Love, and Truth, and have no doubt accessed that deeply. Undoubtedly this will be hard to hold onto, the expansiveness of the awareness you’ve gained. Don’t try to. Some of it will remain unalterably strong in your heart, some will temporarily fall away or become obscured. It’s still inside you. Never forget that. And when it appears to have fallen away, even for a short period, and you find your “first world problems” become part of your consciousness again, try not to judge yourself, or wince. This, too, is seasoning. To see the mind in all its facets, in one moment able to be connected to the belly of human life and suffering and vulnerability, then caught up in the trivialities of modern life in another moment- it is all, in fact, Life. May you accept that you are all these things, that you are not separate from anyone or anything, and that the vast range of these experiences are in fact, a reflection of the vastness itself that connects us all. No one left out. Nothing left out. Let it season you for the gratitude it can bring you right back into, just like that, a potent reminder of just how fortunate you are. But above all, don’t let it become a way to judge yourself or others, for this is the surest way to take you straight out of all that love you just tapped, and back into the darkness you wanted to alleviate by doing what you just did on this great journey. Instead, hold everything that arises in your mind and heart, with kindness. Each of your feelings is just another scared child, like the very ones you may have helped, no doubt, merely wanting your acceptance and love. When you remember that, you will come right back home to yourself. You are not guilty of anything. You are innocent. Including of difficult feelings and confusion. You don’t have to have it all figured out. You never will anyhow. Just return to kindness, over and over and over again, and forgive yourself for everything.
And lastly, please don’t judge your good fortune. Remember that all those beings you fell in love with and were helping, are also wanting a simple and comfortable life, themselves, with their basic needs taken care of, people to love, and safety. You have all this already. Being ashamed of it, or guilty about having it, is a denial of the very thing the people you helped, want for themselves. Deny it to yourself and you deny it to them. Cast it outside, and you cast them outside. This is their simple prayer for their lives. Make it your prayer for your life, too, that you have so much good fortune, so readily, and even more so now, because you are truly grateful for it. Your gratitude for your life is the greatest gift you can send out into the world. Keep the flame of your gratitude fire strongly lit, don’t let judgment, guilt or shame have a seat at your table, and join the chorus of humble satisfaction and joy that sings its song to the world with its quietly murmuring heart, every day.
-A friend of SURF