Fitting the Pieces in the Puzzle of Life

I remembered some powerful relationship guidance from the Abraham Hicks Relationships Vortex Meditation that really helped me recently. This meditation is a series of divinely inspired statements to help align ourselves with the best vibration to attract good relationships into our lives. It has been 11 years since I first listened to them, and they keep coming up over the years with new layers of lessons and understandings. Two of them have came up for me in the time since writing my last post, and they have really helped me transform the little funk of isolation that has been nagging me.

The first goes something like this: “Do not to try to change to people to please you. Accepting them where they are will bring you ease.” The second suggests: “if you can release all concern for how others feel about you and focus only upon how you feel about them, you will discover who you truly are and what freedom really means.” I’m going to get to those lessons pretty soon, but first I want to talk a little about the picture of the squirrel in my Mom’s bird feeder, which illustrates some of the things I am learning about relationships.

My mom is 80 years old now, and she has been working in her garden for 50 years since she and my dad bought the place from my grandparents in 1972. She loves to watch the bird feeder and sits endlessly waiting for the return of a painted bunting, which I don’t think we’ve actually seen since about 1983. She is in relationship with the squirrels, who are big fans of her bird feeders. Every time they figure out how to get into them, my mom goes out and changes things around to defeat them. This is a kind of dance enjoyed by all sides. I went over to see her the other day, as I often do for iced tea, and we witnessed the most recent evolution of squirrel acrobatics and this fellow’s “first ascent” into the glory hole of the bird feeder.

I don’t really think this is bad news for my mother, who I believe actually enjoys leaving some opportunity for them, just so she can watch them figure it out. We went outside and lowered the back of chaise lounge which squirrel had used for a launch pad. Now there will be more time to sit in the Florida room with a glass of tea watching as the squirrel tries leap from a thin branch or other support. It’s a cycle that repeats itself, each time a little higher. This is the relationship between my mother and the squirrels. The squirrels do not change to please my mom, and she accepts them more or less how they are. They just go about their bird feeder dance. And judging by the fat belly of this particular offender, the deal isn’t working out so bad for him either.

These two lessons have helped me resolve a had kind of a funk that I was feeling around the time of Easter. As is so often the case, the funk we feel shows what is coming up for healing and growth as we make another cycle in the spiral of our lives. A teacher of mine once pointed out to me that we see the same situations in our life come around again and again, and if we pay attention and stay on the path of spiritual evolution, we will be a little higher on the spiral each time we go around. This is the gradual path of spiritual evolution that is the central purpose of our life here.

This mechanism works when we apply our learning and experience to the situations that continually arise. Every time we go through a challenge, we can learn more tools and skills that help us the next time. We can develop vigilance so we see our reactions before they take us over, we can develop humility so our ego’s do not carry us away, we can develop acceptance so we do not fall into the trap of self pity, we can reach for gratitude so we can look for the good in things, and of course, we can learn love. When we learn to look upon people and situations with love, then we can stay in our own vibration and not be consumed by external events and the reactions of other people.

I had been suffering from feelings of isolation, which had manifested in the sorrowful lament of “nobody wants to listen to me” which also means, “others do not value me.” This is an easy trap for me to fall into. I talked through it with a couple of my close relationships. Indeed, I was trained as a lawyer and as a negotiator in business. If I wrote a letter to an opposing attorney demanding the production of some evidence, they would never say, “you know the way you asked for those documents really made me feel dismissed, I’ll give them to you, but can you be a little nicer about it?” Nobody ever said “I understand that you are going with a competitor, but to tell me that in an email instead of in person felt cold.” I was deeply trained to focus on the matter at hand and to speak frankly about it. I was always trained to focus on the subject matter, not on the way it was delivered.

But relationships are so much more complex that business transactions! In relationships, the subject at hand is actually the interpersonal dynamics and the topic is the context in which they are played out. For example, a topic might be “where to order take out for dinner with friends” and the dynamic might be a power struggle over who gets their way. If someone is feeling ignored or abused, they will fight about where to order dinner. This deeper way of understanding communication is difficult for my masculine brain. I always tend think it’s about the pros and cons of sushi versus Indian cuisine.

It’s easy for me to tell myself a story that because I’m that way, that others just don’t like me very much, so I may as well not try. That’s the negative polarity. But that is a path that leads to nowhere. It is a path of self isolation and a joyless existence. It is far more interesting and fun to have a life of nuance and complex interpersonal relationships, and I am determined to continue learning. I think there are probably a lot of seven year old girls who are more advanced in this area than I am, and so for me, little bits of effort can produce big improvements. It’s kind of a converse way of thinking, but there is a certain joy in recognizing our weaknesses and working there, because it is there where we can find the greatest improvements.

My wife, Stephanie, and I went to Austin over the last weekend to celebrate the wedding of a dear friend who we have not seen since early 2020. We stayed in a cool AirBnb out the Hill Country with four other couples and spent the weekend together. I had never met our friend’s new husband, nor had I ever met two other men who were in close relationships with two of the other women there. So of the eight other people in the group, I knew only one of the men.

The trip was pretty short. We arrived Friday evening and left Sunday morning. Saturday we spent most of the day outside and then we had planned a festive wedding celebration Saturday night. By the time Saturday night arrived, I had met everyone, but not really made a connection. There had been too many outdoor activities, and not enough time yet. My wife was not feeling very well at the beginning of the evening, and so she had retired to our room to rest. Everyone else was down in the kitchen and on the porch, and I was feeling isolated and a little bit negative. I sat out on the porch by myself for a while and went into prayer and tried to connect to the force that was around me and inside me and look into it for lessons, and I got a good one.

I saw that my isolation was self imposed. I had a difficult experience in prior relationships where I was often subjected to harsh attacks and criticisms for friendships I developed outside the relationship. This dovetailed with an easy habit to assume that people don’t like me very much. I had internalized these reaction and agreed with them, and put myself into isolation. I myself felt resentment that I was not allowed to have friends, when my wife has never placed any such restriction upon me.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. One of the secrets to the relationship I enjoy with my wife is that we live in a tiny box of sacred intimacy that we share only with each other. And since that tiny box is so strong and secure, we are both free to enjoy our lives and have friends. My wife was feeling a little under the weather, but this did not mean I had to sit by myself. I resented the feeling of having to sit by myself, but it was only myself who had imposed this limitation. I was in a prison I myself had built, and I held the key in my own hand.

I saw another tendency that I have, which is to try to stretch my existing relationships to fill all the needs I have in the puzzle of my life. Some of these are rather personal, but I can give a broad overview. I love to go sailing, and this requires a few people. The boat is 50 feet long and in the best winds, it’s nice to have four people on board who know what they are doing. Stephanie, however, does not like to go on the boat unless it’s relatively calm and sunny. For her a good boat day is a five to ten knot wind, a short sail, a nice lunch and swim at anchor, and an easy sail downwind back home.

If I try to stretch Stephanie into sailing in heavier weather, I’m not going to do anything good for either of us. Instead, I need to accept her where she is, and then let other relationships come into my life to fill the gaps. This is true of other relationships. If I accept people as they are and celebrate the good energy they bring into my life, I don’t need to stretch them to fill parts of myself that are empty. Instead, I can leave them empty and sit in gratitude, and they will naturally fill themselves.

As I prayed for some understanding in the force that was surrounding me on that porch, I had a vision of a puzzle piece, on a blue sky background, with the image of a man sitting in meditation painted on it. The man had a serence smile. Around him in the blue sky were other pieces that were fitting together and also gaps where pieces were missing. I interpreted this as a metaphor for the relationships in our lives.

When we work on a puzzle, we do not file down the knobs or open up the holes or file down the corners to get the pieces to fit together. We do not stretch them to force them to cover empty spaces. We do not change the pieces to please us. Instead, we accept all of the pieces as they are and trust the divine to give us all the pieces we need.

The man at the center of the puzzle in this vision, was of course, myself. I could find peace by sitting in the middle, in a state of ease and appreciation of all that was going around me. I could focus on the divine love that we all have within us, and radiate this out through my eyes on the pieces that were around me. I did not have to worry about how they felt or reacted to me. Their lives would mesh with mine where there was harmony and that was fine. People who have strong negative reactions to me will be repelled from me. I do not have to get involved with those negative reactions, and I do not have to change them.

All of the people in our group were happy and friendly and the whole purpose of our gathering was for us to meet and get to know each other. My own negative thoughts and resentments were serving no one, least of all myself! I was self isolating, and then feeling lonely, and then resenting that loneliness. So with a little bit of prayer and a little bit of divine guidance and a little bit of remembering the vortex, and a little bit of force, I was blessed with an insight that I was able to act on.

So maybe the last time I was in that situation, I did not do quite as well. But this time around, I improved. Baby steps. This time I was able to find the gratitude and abundance in my heart, to look upon my friends from the lens of how I felt about them, which was good, because it is my nature to like people. But in order to like them, I had to let go of concern for how they might feel about me, which for many of us can be delivered in the form of fear that others will not like us. The second lesson has helped me to accept my relationships as they are, and not try to stretch them to fill what I perceive as gaps in my experience.

Now I have these understandings in my tool kit. Writing about them here helps to solidify them. In summary, I was given two keys. The first is to accept people as they are, and not try to get them to change to please me. The second is to focus on how I feel (or want to feel) about them, and not on how they feel (or how I fear they might feel) about me. With these two mantras, I can sit in the middle of the puzzle of my life and let the other pieces do their sacred dance. I hope this is helpful for you too. I hope it helps my mom and the squirrels too.

Peace.

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