Thursday, October 15, 2009

What Do I Want?

One of my friends has a signature on her e-mail that states “The happiest people don’t have everything…they are just happy with what they have.” Noble words yet they always leave me feeling that there is a question that has not been answered. An event in my barrio brought her statement and the shadowy question to mind again. I found the question weaving its way through the jungle of critical judgments filling my mind.

My tranquil Sunday morning had been suddenly shattered by the piercing sound of a siren, followed by the blast of a foghorn. This auditory assault continued for some time augmented with Riga- tone music; a kind of Latin Rap. All of this was amplified at a decimal that could shatter glass and from a distance of less than a block from my house. Even though this is typical of Honduran parties, advertising, or the beckoning of customers, I found my mind beginning a downward spiral into its “stink” mode. This negative mental chatter included the condemnation of folks that sacrifice their neighbor’s quality of life for a few extra Lempiras.

Then suddenly my friend’s phrase made its entrance into my thoughts shocking me out of my negative chatter by creating the diversion I needed to break free of the spiral. And as always it was followed by the question that demanded to know, “What do you want?”

Yes, what did I have planned today that the celebration would interfere with? By this time I recognized that the mix of noise and music was probably just that, a celebration since its location logically would attest to a birthday, wedding or such. Instead of pursuing my ‘stinkin’ thinkin’ I should be grateful that I do not live across the street from the little restaurant. Soon some other neighbor who speaks the language far better than I would ask them to tone down the volume. And that’s exactly what happened. As I write this a gentle mix of Caribbean, Popular Spanish and Ranchero music floats through the yard. It’s easy volume now a pleasure for the entire neighborhood.

It was much later that a quieter mind was again visited by the same calm, commanding presence of the question. Hum, so what DO I want, I thought? I decided to sit quietly and explore the question, probing the dark recesses of my mind until the light of awareness began to illuminate the core issue. I came to realize that the question was challenging me to decide what it would take for me to release critical judgment of others so I could have the life I wanted. 

The temporal side of my friends message was a lesson I had learned years before; material things don’t make people happy. And beyond that, I had discovered that I could have any material thing I wanted just by deciding it and holding that positive intent. However there was a more important lesson that connected those two insights. It was that satisfaction is like gratitude; it helps create more, and that if those positive thoughts are expansive then negative thoughts would be constrictive energy.

So, there it was the question that insisted I bare my soul of ego and stand naked, vulnerable before the trappings of the world. As I surrendered to the question I could feel the fear rise to protect me from the unknown. From what possible reality might be held in the light of truth. Yet as I pushed aside the fear and gave space to not only the question but each ensuing question that followed, I was finally guided to the eventual answer. I want to achieve my ultimate potential. It was the answer that becomes its own question.

So, what do you want?