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Center for Enlightened Leadership


  Robert W. Cole

Robert W. Cole
Managing Editor
and Senior Associate

In the last issue of the Lens, and in the issue before, I wrote about two linked topics: dealing with lessons in one’s life, and learning all that can be learned from them. I recalled a couple of the big tests that this Earth School has placed in my path and how, sooner or later, I responded to them. I wrote of my progress, and of my immense gratitude for that progress. I am a poster child for the precept that one’s life experiences promote spiritual growth. I’m also a poster child for the notion that the Universe will continue to kick our ass until we face the need to learn the lessons that life presents to us.

So…I’ve done a lot and I’ve grown a lot—too often not willingly or quickly, to say the least. What’s the next step? I guess I could sit around—a couch potato of spiritual advancement—and wait for yet another Big Life Lesson to smack me in the face. I’m officially a Senior Citizen, after all. Don’t I deserve a break today? Why go looking for challenges?

Let me confess my bias here: I grew up among a bunch of people deeply mired in ruts. Some were pretty darned comfortable in their ruts, I thought, and some were quietly but palpably miserable. Ruts are easy to fall into and hard to escape. Ruts can be surprisingly, seductively comfortable. I’ve lived in one or two of them. When you’re mired to the eyeballs in a rut of your own making, it can be difficult to understand that you have the power to create an entirely different kind of life than the one you’re living, or half-living. As a dear mother-in-law of mine used to say, “If you’re mad, you can just get glad again.” That always struck me as far easier to say than to do, but it’s still correct.

The aging Ulysses, in Tennyson’s stirring poem of that name, speaks of his desire to “drink life to the lees.” He scorns a life lived less than fully: “How dull it is to pause, to make an end, to rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use! As tho' to breathe were life!”

As though to breathe were life. As though merely existing were the same as living a life fueled by intent and passion. Especially when one’s time remaining in this Earth School is not unlimited. Like Ulysses (though not to make too much of this comparison), I see that “I am a part of all that I have met.” And, like Ulysses, I am aware that “tho’ much is taken, much abides.” Much may still be done, and surely there is much still to do that has the power to stir one’s spirit. All that’s necessary to begin the process is for a person—this person—to project an intent into the Universe.

A year or so ago I wrote these words: “Mystery is always available to us at any moment if we look for it and invite it in. Wonder walks through the door in the merest blink of an eye. We are separated from miracles by only the thinnest membrane.”

Yes, there’s a terrific intent: mystery. Bring me mystery. No, wait, wait: Mystery seems like a scary desire to project. Hmm—mystery may be scary, but not wonder. Bring me wonder! However this desire manifests itself, though, it is certainly not a rut—it’s part of living fully. (Or is it? You, wise reader, see clearly the silly humanity reflected in my indecisiveness. Can true intents of the heart be so qualified, as if one were ordering from a menu? Waiter, I’d like “wonder” from Column A and “mystery” from Column B.)

No sooner did I re-read the preceding paragraph than I see that my intent is realized. Shazam—wonder is here! I am full of wonder. Overflowing with wonder at almost everything that presents itself to me. Wonder has always, I see in this moment, been one of the integral components of my life in this Earth School. Seek and ye shall find.

In the next breath I see that mystery, too, is already here—in my life and in the life of every living person. How can it be otherwise? Any grand adventure such as Life that ends in the unknowable grandeur of death has mystery as an essential part of the whole curriculum.

Here truly are Life Lessons: to be touched daily by wonder; to sense, even fleetingly, that death and life are one; and to feel strongly that even more wondrous mysteries lie beyond the bounds of where our minds can take us. What next, Universe? Joy. Bliss. Peace. I may not be ready—who’s ever really ready?—but I’m willing.

Center for Empowered Leadership ®
Email: info@cfel.org
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