Cut to the Chase

For most of my life I've cut to the chase- not necessarily intending to take shortcuts or to intentionally hasten the process, but because the most direct route is usually the one that feels right to me. When it comes to the big things in life, I seem to have a knack for just getting right to it in the most direct way possible, with the least amount of middle men. 

When I was a little kid I told it like it was, whether the adults around me appreciated it or not. When it came to dating, even at an early age, I cut right to it on the first date (no shame). When it came to motherhood, I said "Let's get 'er done!" at the age of 19. When I finally went back to school to get my nursing degree, I sped up the two year BSN program into 1.5years. At the end of my preceptorship my preceptor suggested that I needed more experience and time on the floor before jumping into the ICU and I ignored her sage advice and applied to the only ICU program available as a new grad. Now that I think about it, that was the last time I really remember cutting to the chase. Now that I'm older I'm trying to find it in me to get back to that again.


Every time I decided to jump in and cut to the chase it was always a little scary, heart- pounding and doubt inducing. After making the decision my internal dialogue usually goes as follows: "Do I REALLY know what I'm getting myself into?" "Can I really handle this?" "Does it really matter?"  "HOLY SHiT! Here we go!!!!" Even if I ended up fumbling around versus having a smooth, well-practiced process, the lessons I learned just from immersing myself in the experience was so valuable and was something I was wholly committed to because my heart and whole being was in it. Why prolong the inevitable or beat around the bush when you know exactly what your heart is telling you right here and right now? Your heart knows best, even when it seems to be leading you into a spooky dark cave.

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Since delving into spirituality and diving deeper into myself I've inundated myself with books to read, courses to take, audio of speakers to listen to and "tools" that I've yet to learn how to use to assist me. The nuggets of value that I've gleaned from each book, class, and presentation were truths I've thought of, suspected or known all along, just presented in someone else's choice and arrangement of words. And yet I still found myself doubting, not feeling like I'm enough, thinking I need to know more, work harder to earn that reward that always seems to be beyond my reach.  Just recently, it dawned on me that maybe I'm already all up in it. Maybe everything I'm looking for really is already within me. And my belief that I need to do or know more is the only thing that's keeping me from enjoying the truth that I already know- that I am and have always been perfectly enough and that I've always been adored by God/the Universe. And maybe I should just cut to the chase already and open my eyes to the fact that I don't need to look any further.  The truth I've been searching for is already right here. I'm here, exactly where I need to be. 

I don't claim to be an all-knowing enlightened being nor do I claim to even know the steps how to get there. All I know is somehow, someway, all of the steps I've taken have led me to where I am right now. If the ideal state that multiple religions preach to be the ultimate goal is to feel a Oneness with the Source, to be loved and to love, to have the fullest experience and understanding of ourselves and life and our insignificantly magnificent role in it, then the necessity of chanting 10,000 mantras, saying 100 rosaries or fasting for 40 days is lost on me. My knowledge of religions outside of Catholicism is very basic, but they all seem to be based on setting a defined path for people to work towards their salvation/freedom/Nirvana. Most of those defined paths claim to be in and of the light and righteousness, directed away from darkness, defined and modeled on the path walked by an idealized Someone who embodies the ideal state we strive for. Some paths are straight and narrow with little room for error. You're threatened with a painful fall from grace if you deviate from the path. Other paths are wider, winding, more relaxed, but still very much defined. 

Millions of people have tried to walk these paths with the promise of eternal reward, love, knowledge and salvation at the end.  I wonder how many out of those millions, truly found what they were looking for solely by sticking to the predefined path? Are we truly any less loved if we don't pray 30 Hail Marys every day? Can't we just cut to the chase and acknowledge and be grateful that we're already surrounded by love every second if we just choose to see it. Will we really miss the meaning of life or not know our place in the Universe if we don't meditate or do yoga several hours a day? Can't we just be guided to find it within a few seconds simply by holding a dying man's hand or looking up at the vast sky on a dark and cloudless night? Are we not already thoroughly immersed in the pleasures, pains, and the vast range of the beauty of life, presented with countless moments as opportunities for us to examine and understand if we choose to. I know there's value in patience, perseverance, and sacrifice, but there's also value, in right here, right now, as you and I are, unconditionally. It's not our role to judge anybody else's path because at one point or another we'll all find our way to the Source. All we're supposed to do is to just pick a direction and start walking, wherever it may lead us. Saint, murderer, human, alien alike- we're all just trying to find our way through it all.

Looking at the path I've taken so far, according to some, I should be burning in a hot and tortuous place by now. Instead of waiting for a more mature and "appropriate" age, I dove right in and explored my sexuality at an early age. If I consulted other people's maps to salvation/enlightenment, this foray into darkness should've thrown me off the path and straight into a pit of jagged rocks. Instead, I fully experienced both the pleasures of sensuality as well as its limitations and consequences. Contrary to what others might say, I didn't feel like I was any lesser of a being because of it. 

One of the results of taking steps in that particular direction was that I got pregnantas a teenager. After being advised by other people that having a child out of wedlock at such a young age would surely steer me away from the "right" path, I let my heart lead me into the short but rocky path to motherhood. My path as a young mother was the bumpiest and most confusing out of all I've chosen to take. The only way I found my way around was to stumble and feel my way through it, no matter how much advise was thrown at me nor how many books I read. Through walking this path I was able to deeply experience unconditional love, the value of life and the painfully humbling lessons of giving myself and others the grace to make mistakes (and to forgive them) and to learn to let go of control over someone whom you want nothing but the best for. I seriously doubt that the path involving having an abortion, postponing motherhood for several more years and walking a mile on my knees while praying the rosary every Wednesday in an act of penance would've taught me those necessary lessons so intensely. My children are such beautiful and loving beings that I am certain neither of them would be headed straight to Purgatory or Hell just because of the circumstances they were born into. 

And partially because of my decision to be a young mother, I've been co-habitating with my babies' daddy without the official stamp of approval of marriage.  Although initially it was because of a lack of funds to cover a wedding big enough to accommodate his large family, we've consciously continued to live this way for the last 18 years. Another huge No-No by other people's standards, but by continuing to forgo the official binding by law, we've learned to find the balance between giving and receiving love, patience, and acceptance not because of the tie of a piece of paper or because of a need, but because of the love that binds us and our conscious choice to stick together. 

Personally, I don't think years of any rigid rituals of fasting, temple or church time, prayer, meditation, chants or placement of sacred items in my home could've taught me the lessons I've learned so far by just cutting to the chase. Actually, I don't observe ANY rigid rituals, now that I think about it. The monotony of ritual fails to hold my attention. Thinking back to the hours of praying the rosary with my family when I was little, I would get cross eyed as we repeated Hail/Holy Marys and Our Fathers until the jumbled words that came out of my mouth lost its meaning. I doubt that I would've learned any A-HA! lessons from continuing that practice over the years. Even routine rituals that I've attempted to start now are hard for me to maintain. What has worked for me, however, is to forgo the routine and to just do things from the heart. When I do, I'm fully engaged and fully present. 

Just being fully present in all the experiences I've had along the way and embracing the lessons gleaned from each one has been such a powerful teaching experience in and of itself. I didn't follow anybody else's map, just felt my way through the shadows, following any glimmer of light.  I'm not anybody's ideal image of mother, lover, daughter, friend, employee, human nor anything. I'm just me. The path I chose wasn't the long, safe and righteous one bathed in light. It involved just getting in there, diving into the darkness, not really knowing where I'd end up, but knowing in my bones that I'd see my way through somehow. 





That's how I feel I've found my way to this beautiful oasis that's staring me in the face right now. It's not a mirage of an oasis of peaceful calm as far as the eye can see, always beyond arm's reach that I believed it to be. It's a paradise that revealed itself after cutting to the chase, following my own path guided by what I feel to be true. The Source surrounds me, cascading and thundering like a waterfall without me having to lift a finger, manipulate my path or attempt to direct it or a pool of refreshing and healing calm, depending on where I stand and try to observe it. I'm trying to let go of the need to analyze it and needing to know where it all came from that will surely distract me from what's already staring me in the face.  In the end, does it really matter?  It's right here, right now and so am I. So I'm just jumping in and enjoying the experience of being immersed in it. There's no longer a chase I need to cut to. I am home. 
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