We habitually erect a barrier called blame that keeps us from communicating genuinely with others, and we fortify it with our concepts of who's right and who's wrong. We do that with the people who are closest to us and we do it with political systems, with all kinds of things that we don't like about our associates or our society.
It is a very common, ancient, well-perfected device for trying to feel better. Blame others....Blaming is a way to protect your heart, trying to protect what is soft and open and tender in yourself. Rather than own that pain, we scramble to find some comfortable ground.
My family of four humans (plus friends) lives in a 750-ish square foot home in Northeast Portland. We're not super keen on the two busy streets we live by, nor the gas station or fast food restaurants. We do love our neighborhood and our neighbors, the closeness of school and work and the businesses that are nearby. We've been in this particular home for about seven years, but we've slowly outgrown the space. We're all kind of living on top of one another, without much ability to get alone time or privacy. A few years ago, we began to search for a solution: Should we try to remodel? Should we try to sell and move?
My partner and I have navigated this negotiation, some times more aptly than others. Regardless of the possibilities, we continue to come up against a Portland neighborhood that we did not know before moving into our current home: homes are now two-hundred to three-hundred times more expensive than they once were with jobs that still pay the same. Our street has limited parking due to new, high-density structures that were not required to offset the increase in cars by providing vehicle solutions. Long lines and high wait times at businesses have created stress on the service workers that wasn't there before. I could go on and on with a list that culminates in something my husband and I say often: Wow, Portland has CHANGED. In the two decades that we've lived in Northeast Portland, it's not the same place.
In my meditation practice, I focus on observing: simply being present with myself and observing my thoughts, my feelings, the sounds around me, etc. I practice not judging these things. I make a safe and sacred space to practice this. Yet, in the "real world," I often find it hard to suspend judgement or pull back from my thoughts. And on this Portland note, it becomes so hard because something in me perceives these new changes negatively. I don't much like crowds, or long lines or too-expensive housing. The last one is the thing that starts to feel a little frustrating for me. It pulls me out of my trust-the-Universe mode and into a I-need-to-solve-this-shit-right-now mode. It brings up one of my biggest and greatest core desires.
I. Need. Space.
Wow. I really, really, really need space. As an introvert, it's how I recharge. As a mother, it's how I recharge. As a healer, it's how I recharge. I love to give to other people and I have to make sure that I've got a lot to give. Space for me is about my ability to use and connect with my compassion and generosity and bring this, blossoming and large, into the world.
I want to meet this need for myself (and for my family!) I honor it and I know that I'm worth having it. I spent the last couple of months trying to meet this need through doing. Because, well, doing is what I do best. I scheduled meetings with realtors and contractors and walked them around my home and looked at listings they sent and I did this and did this to super high quotes and unreasonable (for my family) estimates until I broke last night. I broke and then, interestingly enough, I blamed.
The blame happened and I wasn't sure why. It's always interesting to me to watch it come up like a wave. Of course, I blamed my husband for a variety of factors. When that wasn't enough, I blamed groups of people, generally, for making the world inhospitable for me: for preventing me from meeting a very important need for myself.
Pema Chodron says that this blame thing is a barrier, a defense mechanism to keep us from being (from feeling?) vulnerable. I'd have to say that I agree, it's a way of raising myself into a superior position, where it's not my fault, for my own situation.
I am a "good" person. I am a "good" person. I am a "good" person.
What does being able to pay an exorbitantly high rent in the city have to do with being a good person? Am I unsuccessful? Have I not worked hard enough to make money? There it is....these same old stories that I thought I'd worked out so long ago.
Here it is, what kept me up a little late last night with mental chatter and a little observation happening in the background. And may I continue to keep that little observation going, through a few minutes of meditation every day. I know that it's "normal" and fine. I don't need to change a single thing about it. I simply need to be aware of the programs that often begin running when the little protective tiger in me tries to kick in.
I got a little lost again, in the process, thinking that there was (or is) some goal to be had here: I will find a solution and get the space I need.
In reality, the thing I'm trying to solve is not important. The process I'm going through as I navigate this thing is what is. The observations I find, as I pull myself back from the intellect and watch it do it's thing, tell me about my character, about how we work as human beings and about some even bigger needs than space. This week, whether I write on it or not, is going to focus more on being so that I can move into a place of acceptance and re-find, as always, the faith I brought back with me from Nepal: The trust in a pathway that I am on, will always be on, and cannot be thrown from. No matter what happens, here it is beneath me, through me and within me; my very own life's path.