Team Eckhart

I just finished reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The New Earth”. It’s a significant event, because I rarely even venture into the land of New Age books, as Borders would undoubtedly classify this, and as such this book would long have stayed out of my purview were it not for life’s intervention. In this particular case, I have my wife, my sister, and Oprah to thank for conspiring to put this book in front of my face… Powerful women, all, so it’s no wonder that, after reading & reflecting on E.T.’s work, I too feel more “powerful”.

Here’s why.

His life, as explained in the book, is not what you & I, the unenlightened might call “life” at all. His consciousness has evolved. In his world, life is a series of things. Things that happen, things that you consume, build, lust after, chase, get, don’t get, etc. It’s literally all clutter. This is not Life, a separate definition that is hard to denote with any letters, even a Capital L. As he would express it, Life just is. The things of the lowercase life are all constructs, are all structures created by our dearest friend & most insecure friend, Monsieur Ego, in a constant & desperate effort to justify his own existence. We do not need Ego to accomplish our purpose in life. Ego actually runs counter plots to this true purpose by convincing us that he is the one in charge & that his desires are what matters. Our purpose is to simply live Life, the Life that Oprah would call her Best Life, by realizing we are all Beings, and as such we are all connected to a higher Being, which E.T. describes variously with apropos but loaded words like Truth, Consciousness, Awareness, God, Self and Life.

He claims that we, before attaining consciousness (which he explains in such adroit fashion as to encompass and equalize most of the world’s religions), create and destroy in the futility of the act of defining ourselves & everything in our world on some meter or scale or reference point. My favorite part of this dialog is his discussion of how nothing is actually Better or Bigger until you decide it’s so. I totally can’t do it justice at the moment, since i only read it once & neglected to take notes. Just take it from me that this was one of the many aha!- like moments I had in the course of his 300 pages: every measurement requires a point of reference, and since society is full of Beings with independent points of reference, yours is the only one that matters, which simultaneously means that none of them do (let’s all stop short of spiraling down into the dystopic argument that society can’t function without some shared givens). There is no Good or Bad, but thinking that makes it so.

But consider that every Being is born and has a spark of life – and that, my friends, is where the similarities end. The only thing we “know” is that we are alive and others are alive. If we can realize that, accept that, and act as though it were the only Truth, everything else that causes us discontent melts away.

The most freeing section in the whole book is where he relates that to action and time. When you accept that the world and time are constructs in which you are forced to participate physically but do NOT define who you are, because YOU are more than your actions, all the risk to You/Self is moot and it’s only your Ego at play that makes you act differently. What you choose to do in any given moment is exactly the right thing to do if you are aware of the choice. Put simply, the only moment there ever is is Now, and the only Action required is the one you choose.

That is a concept that made me fall off the couch. That is some Ninja shit right there. I feel like I earned a blackbelt in like thirty different isms all at once.

Here’s where it can go a little sideways for those less introspective than even I am. Realizing that, accepting that, acting on that… In short, thinking about it (or anything for that matter) is still a lowercase life. Thinking is all Ego. Getting in touch with Life, though, is “simpler” than that. He gives us a few activities to try in the book, but my go-to kata is this: close your eyes and just feel the blood, heat & energy I your fingertips. (I learned focused breath in college yoga classes, so I take for granted that this is easy; I highly recommend learning this technique if for no other reason than it’s ability to quell anxiety & get me to sleep at night). Then let that awareness slowly creep out into your hands, into your arms, your shoulders, your core, the top of your head… that sort of trancelike state you enter when you can honestly feel that energy & not act or think about anything else… that is the Awareness with a Capital A that E.T. says connects us all. It’s the only thing that connects us all, but the point is that we are all connected. However you choose to manifest that Life, whatever God you choose (if any), whatever clothes you wear, whether you’re for Team Edward or Team Jacob (note from my Ego: I am the only guy who would even ATTEMPT to mix Eckhart Tolle and Twilight, and therefore I am awesome), all those decisions are yours and all of them insignificant in the pursuit of Life, Happiness, Zen, Nirvana, Heaven, or Valhalla (what up Nordic readers!).

All you gotta do is let go. The only moment there ever is is Now, and the only Action required is the one you choose. There is no Good or Bad, but thinking that makes it so.

I apologize for the heady meta vapors you’re now wafting in, but this post serves three purposes. First and foremost, to document my own thoughts on this book. It hasn’t turned me into Superman or Oprah or even Dr. Phil, but whatever potential I had that I felt was untapped or that I wasn’t “allowed” to tap, which caused me to worry I was wasting myself, or at least that others were thinking I was wasting myself… Well, none of that matters. And holy jumping Jesus in a jumpsuit did it make a difference in my life.

Second purpose of this post is to tell you about it. Spread the germs of consciousness, I suppose. Without becoming an evangelist, I will simply say that, if you can hang with his meta-analysis (or at least aren’t totally turned off by the words meta-analysis), you will get something of value out of reading it.

Third purpose is to publicly acknowledge and accept that I am more than the sum of my actions, and so is everyone else. That, inevitably, leads to forgiveness, which is a surprising word at this time in my life. I’m afraid that’s a horse of a different color, though, so I’m postponing further public exploration of that.

My thanks to the many different Muses that manifested that book & granted me the good fortune to be able to read it. Hopefully at least one other person will choose the same experience.

What the Wedding Means

Y’know, I get engaged and then for a year and a half, I’m affected in some way by planning the wedding on a daily basis. Because there’s so much to do, and I’m quite decidedly someone who has a preference for not doing things, usually I would let it affect me negatively. (I’m being honest, here, not mean.) We agreed very early on that what we wanted our wedding to be, above all, is something that will create one huge day of love & friends & family & frivolous eating and drinking & memories for everyone to share, forever.

But since last February, I’ve been kinda leaning towards focusing pretty much only on the less-than-romantic aspects of what a wedding is. Meaning it’s been all of the following things to me.

  • Something for which to save lots of money.
  • Something to help R plan in great detail.
  • Something to look forward to but to use as a horizon at which to stop planning for anything else.
  • Something to use as an excuse for not doing lots of other things.
  • Something with which to fill task lists.
  • Something to fight about.
  • Something to worry about.
  • Something to create strife within (but thankfully not across) families.

But it’s now 5 days away, and over the last week or so, I’ve finally started to see it as… well, what it is.

A day in which I will have the most beautiful person I know, standing by my side, with her hand in mine, vowing to stay there forever. I can’t wait.

None of you have any idea how interesting life is with this woman. And I don’t even mean interesting in the most idealist or romantic sense – I just mean that, when I take the time to sit back and OBSERVE us, we are a fascinating entity. And on Saturday the 13th of October, we put rings on fingers, becoming one family, one whole thing, that will fascinate us for the rest of our lives. If nothing else happens that day, that will be enough.

For example, we’ve been engaged for 18 months, and I’ve leaned towards thinking about the wedding day itself as all those things above. I would be willing to bet the farm that R, if she ever painted a picture with those types of words, probably dismissed them and gave them no weight whatsoever, and moved on to making the wedding hers. Owning it. Planning it down to the tiniest detail. And not stopping to think about any of those other things that I was thinking for us. One would posit a guess that maybe that would lead us to fight a lot about sharing the efforts, about sharing the ambition to have a great wedding, about marrying someone who cares too much/too little about details. It didn’t. We fascinate each other, we balance each other, we are commited to each other. We work out the details of our life together and how to live it, sometimes through heated conversation, but always with both of us knowing that we are going to figure it out, and it will be fascinating.

I think part of the reason I might have been disposed to thinking of it the way I did is because I wasn’t terribly involved in the planning itself. I didn’t even do some of the typical head-nodding, “Yes, Dear”-ing that you would expect the typical guy to do, because I wasn’t even asked the questions. Ask me if I helped when asked, sure, I helped. Ask me if I had opinions about lots of the big things that were considered, of course I did. But ask me what kind of flowers we’re having, the name of our photographer, or what’s on the menu other than the main course, and I would have to ask R for her wedding binder.

Maybe that’s stuff that doesn’t matter to me. I think I saw R start taking this whole thing by the horns the day after I proposed, and I said there’s no way that I’m gonna be able to hop on unless she actually makes room for me to hop on. (The wedding is a bull? Analogy-maker still feet-to-Jesus, I guess.)

As much strife or anxiety or work as my inactivity may have caused R & us as a couple since we got engaged, I guess I don’t apologize for it, because to me, the only thing that really matters is putting rings on fingers. What really matters is saying words to each other that declare us as a husband and wife ’til death do us part in front of 132 of our closest friends & family. Doesn’t matter what’s in the centerpieces or whether the programs match the bridesmaid dress colors perfectly or whether my family members were peeved over not being allowed to bring children. Everything else… well, had we been so inclined, or had we been ten years older and ten times more financially secure, we could have paid someone else to do. But we chose, R chose, to do it all herself, to make it hers/ours, in lots of ways beyond just the ceremony.

I guess the whole point is that, now when I sit back and think about our wedding, as it approaches in five days, I’m NOT thinking about it the same way. I see it as
something that will, without a doubt, be one huge day of love & friends & family & frivolous eating and drinking & memories for everyone to share, forever. That’s all it will be, and that’s all that we wanted. If the cake melts, if the clouds open up & dump rain all over northern Jersey, or even if I’m stuck in a powder blue ruffle-tux from the Liberace House of Crap, it doesn’t matter. At noon on Saturday, I will be R’s husband, and I will continue to lead a fascinating life, with her by my side.

And then there will be lots of drinking. Lots of eating. Lots of great music. And lots of memories for us all to share, forever. Can’t wait.