I did not take home with me any new goals or resolutions. But I did leave the desert with some thoughts — “things I think” — some of which are new, some of which are simply clearer or less contingent than they were before my time alone in the desert. Here are a few:
- It’s not enough. I’m not enough. Those are my demons. That’s not new; I knew that before going to the desert. I also knew, from what I see in the world around me, those demons are everywhere; they are not mine alone. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. Demons can be defeated. But I’m realizing they cannot be defeated with knowledge or willpower. They can be defeated only by removing the false ideas that protect and nourish them. And by wresting control of thoughts from them. Through awareness. Acceptance. Truth (reality). Seizing control of my mind.
- The meaning I sought does not exist. The meaning that is available is that which I create; or perhaps more accurately, allow to be created.
- Nothing is dependent upon anything eternal; nothing and no one outside of me needs to change. The world cannot be fixed. But I can change. And with that change, the sun can be brighter; the sky, bluer. Yet I cannot seek change or try to will it because such efforts would fail; they always have. If change is to come, it will come with awareness and mindfulness. And perhaps from things and in ways I don’t and never will fully understand.
- Removal of the things that distort the lens through which I see and experience life — the barriers and obstructions, the false ideas, illusions, delusions, and unrealistic expectations — is essential. Deconstruction. Removal. Awareness. This I can do.
- Finding and being mindful of the root causes of suffering is essential. Suffering should be considered an alarm; it should alert me to distortions in my lens.
- Cede power to no one. Nor to any idea, action, or delusion. Care not about what anyone else thinks. About anything. But care about the person.
- Be totally truthful in all things. Don’t lie (not even little white lies or lies intended to spare someone else’s feelings). Similarly, welcome the truthfulness of others; take no offense or hurt. Take no offense at their lies either, for surely many will come. They know not what they do.
- Do not complain. It distorts the lens and misleads me into thinking my well-being is dependent upon something or someone.
- Do not think about what I don’t have or what I haven’t done or achieved. If I think it matters, look up (when the moon is new and where there is little or no light pollution).
- Desire nothing. Expect nothing. Instead of asking, why me? Ask, why not me?
- Relish the gifts and wonder. They are everywhere. If I fail to see them, it is not because they aren’t there; it is because my lens is cloudy.
- Be still. My mind needs time without distractions — not only external ones, but also (and more especially) the internal ones. Meditate. Return to the desert if necessary. Or to other places of solitude.
- Be mindful and present, no matter how trivial or insignificant the activity or interaction seems.
- Observe myself, too. I am not my thoughts. Step outside of my mind. Refuse to be hostage to my thoughts.
Peace, contentment, happiness, and meaning lie in wait within; our natural state is happiness and contentment. They are mine provided I do not allow any illusion, fear, or belief to hold them hostage. Free them. But seek not these things; rather, focus on ridding myself of the things that obscure and imprison them.
Those were some my thoughts. As I departed …