A while ago, my path crossed a Russian couple visiting Norway. The woman told me the story of her Grandmother. The difficult circumstances of her Grandmother’s life had led her to create her own mantra :
“When you get stuck, get dressed, leave the house! By getting out of your everyday surroundings you never know who you are going to meet or what you will encounter. That can change the direction of your day or your life.”
We all receive a hand of cards when we are born, in the form of family and birthplace. With these assigned cards in hand, we begin our lives. How these cards are dealt is and remains part of the mystery of life even though there are different theories in different cultures on how this happens, and science has its explanation.
I get dizzy thinking about it too much, but I believe we are all on an earthy school in a human body, and it is all about raising our awareness.
Would I have felt this way if life had dealt me a different set of cards? I’m not sure, but these are the cards I received and play the game with.
A common perception among those who have a spiritual view of life is that we repeat the same homework until we learn the lesson, but the lessons are entirely individual. We move on to the next step only after we have gained what we are supposed to know.
Doctor Wayne W. Dyer, who has now passed on, described spirituality with such simplicity and beauty: “Spirituality is about experiencing.”
Isn’t that what we all do as human beings? In that sense, we are all spiritual beings. Whether we perceive ourselves as it or not. Life is a process from A to Z, from being born until we die, and duality always characterizes earthly life. There is no night without day, joy without sorrow, so the dance continues between the opposites of duality. But how is the balance of duality created?
Sometimes life forces us into a corner which requires action and change. I learned this in the fall of 2016 when I ended up in a situation at work that required a choice.
Either dealing with the lousy situation and continuing where I was, or renouncing my current job’s safety, quitting and leaping into the unknown. If I chose to continue, I would have to change my view of how I experienced the situation and deal with losing my integrity. If I jumped, I had to accept being out of control and do everything to get a new job. The fact that I am solely responsible for my son played a central role in my decision. Regardless of choice, I felt mentally and emotionally trapped.
For several consecutive years, I have lived in a country voted as the world’s best country to live in, Norway. It is a beautiful country cultivating safety and similarity, which has its positive and negative sides.
Doing something as drastic as quitting a steady job in a country that values safety is not easy.
A lesson I learned the hard way. My choice to quit was interpreted badly by employers. As a result, the change I was hoping for never came; my desperation just grew. Have you ever known that feeling? Then you know for sure what’s coming out of desperation—nothing, except for more misery and despair.
When I decided to quit the job, I was unaware that the roller skates forced upon my feet would send me on a profound inner journey. Since there was very little happening in my daily life, the trip went deeper and deeper until I reached the bottom and discovered that I had ended up in prison—a prison with walls made of emotions and thoughts. I could stay there forever, feel sorry for myself, blame it on different peole. But would it help me?
In this prison, I also discovered the art of seeing the beauty in little things, much more than ever before.
I learned to feel deeply grateful for all I had. I had a gorgeous son, a roof over my head, and food on my table. Religious? Not really. I think we humans often forget to be grateful. We complain about what is missing in our lives instead of looking at everything we have.
In this self-constructed prison, I also began to hear the Russian grandmother’s mantra. This time screaming in my ear:
“Maybe it is about time to get out of your everyday surroundings, try something else and see if it will open a new door.”
For a long time I ad tried to make a change without getting anywhere. During the journey inward, I began to look back to the past. I had lived an exciting and intense life, with both good and less good experiences. I had LIVED.
For the first time in my life, I had to admit that I had gone through a lot. The madness, will-power and stubbornness helped me overcome challenges, especially after becoming a mother. They had also kept me away from helplessness, but now I was utterly exhausted. I did not feel like fighting anymore. I could not convince myself or the outside world about anything anymore. There are diagnoses for such a thing in our modern Western society, but I did not believe in diagnoses.
But I found comfort in my spirituality, and the message I could hear was this:
“How do you accept what life has to offer? As a human being you never know what the next moment holds. Are you ready to keep a steady course without feeding bitterness, anger and hatred and jealousy? Even in stormy weather when you’re completely out of control? Are you ready to open your heart even more and live a life without judging? “
Suddenly, the great Persian poet Rumi and his poem “A Guest House” got a new meaning.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
How difficult it is to accept feelings that cause pain, and how often do we run from ourselves to avoid and get to know our shadow sides? It is always easier to turn the headlights outward than inwards to find the answers.
I had reached a point where I needed a change, and with this recognition, I suddenly stood in front of a thick wall of emotion, and the key to change was acceptance. Easier said than done.
The Russian Grandma’s mantra haunted me over and over again.
“By making a change and getting out of your everyday….”
That’s how I started planning a trip out of the ordinary—a purposeful trip with a backpack full of different feelings, thoughts, and questions. I was heading to Brazil to visit Casa de Dom Inácio in Abadiania.
You can also read the Norwegian version here.