The streets of India 

The streets of India 

Do you ever feel kind of insane?

I have been thinking a lot about thinking. I find I spend so much time in this thinking state, in my head, afraid to make mistakes. I think, and end up doing nothing except for thinking.

Mistakes are a part of life. They are how we learn. How we grow. Lately I feel that if I stay where I am, consumed with this “thinking state” I'll end up insane. When I fear making a mistake and choose to do nothing—and nothing is ultimately a choice—I end up listening to that negative voice and hiding in my mind.

It’s a miserable place to be. Definitely more painful than the possibility of feeling misunderstood for a moment. Or—God forbid—making a mistake.

We all share the same sky…the same moon…the same stars…the same sun. I am not better than you are, and you are not better than I am. We all experience pain, joy, and fear. So why do we resort to adding more pain to the world? How do we remove the obstacle—the fear that our minds dream up and trick us into believing to be true? I’m learning that the antidote is to focus on being kind, on being compassionate, to love. To follow the voice of my heart.

We can find the space within ourselves that seeks and connects us to our true being, our true nature, and the ultimate reality. We can’t discover much with our minds—life is an experience of the heart…an uncovering of the heart.

The innocence of who we are 

The innocence of who we are 

As I travel around India and ask, “Who am I?” I see all kinds of people and I’m struck by how equal we all are. So many people; poor, rich, dirty, clean, young, old, sick, healthy, holy, evil. Billions of people... We all eat and poop. We all sleep. We do what it takes to survive. To love. To find love. We are in this life together. The only differences or separations are the ones we’ve created for ourselves, our perceptions of each other—thinking. God doesn’t love me more than you or vice versa. We are all equal in the eyes of existence. No matter our beliefs or our circumstances.

Right before I left for India, I moved across the country—from California to North Carolina—with my gorgeous loving partner and our crazy cat Charlie. We dropped everything that was familiar to take a chance on a beautiful retreat in the woods. I had no idea what was next, just my intuition. That quiet inner voice that told me it was time. I had to empty myself once again and leave everything I knew to start anew. Be open to what was to come my way. Trust that God/Existence will always provide. That’s when my thinking opened the door for doubt.

When we moved, it was the dead of winter—the last day of December. The trees were bare. I was used to a Los Angeles’s color palette. At first, I thought it was a drag to move from ocean blues and palm trees and light to our new home with an incredible view of the mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway. The winter landscape just looked so barren, so gray, and so ugly. The emptiness... Several friends commented on how miserable it was to move at that time of year. My thinking mind began to adopt their thoughts. Had I made a mistake?

Then I remembered to focus on being kind, on being compassionate, on love. Not just for people, but for the whole world, the whole universe around me. That’s when something shifted.

Our new morning view

Our new morning view

I looked out over the gray winter "emptiness" in the valley and mountains, but I didn’t see emptiness. I saw everything. The neighbors’ houses through the trees, the kids’ bicycles forgotten under the dead leaves, the gardens waiting for spring. Empty isn’t a bad thing. The beauty is still there.

When everything has been stripped away from our lives or ourselves how do we trust that it is just winter, another season? “There is a season, turn, turn, turn. And a time to every purpose under heaven.” Now it is winter, soon it will be spring.

Everything I need is already inside. Just as the winter shows me what's beneath the trees when all the leaves are gone, God is showing me what is beneath all of my possessions, the identities I've created for myself as an actor, a partner, and a seeker. I can trust that when I shed my costume, this old part, I will step into a new one.

In India on my pilgrimage, I’ve begun to grow. New seeds will be planted, branches will bud, and trees flourish. When I return to North Carolina the leaves will be plentiful, the trees full, creating shade, providing fruit. The gray will be green. I’ll no longer be able to see houses in the distance, but I will know that they are there. In nothing is everything; in everything there is nothing. When there is nothing on the trees, there is everything on the ground.

Trust in love. Your leaves will fall; you will bloom again. There is a season for everything. "Turn, turn, turn…"

Ayden Gramm