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Friday, March 6, 2009

Three Challenges in Life – CREDO LXIII

   
My mother, Penelope King Orcutt, was a woman of wry insight. She was deeply introverted, with much wisdom and a puckish sense of humor. It was as if she lived in an emotional fortress and would send a teasing Joker out a side door. You should know that she was a Taurus, an earth sign that rules both money and the physical joys of comfort and security, which may explain some of the following.

Her method of bringing up her only child, when she was not traveling away with my father, had a lasting impact on me. I remember when I was four years old and would have a tantrum, she would simply drag me screaming to face myself in the full-length mirror in the hall. This would infuriate me even more but gradually I would see what a comic figure I made and would end up giggling.

This paid off oddly when I was in my forties and was desperately unhappy. I was alone, looking out a window on a rainy cold morning, feeling absolutely hopeless, with tears streaming down my cheeks, when suddenly I had the strangest sense of a violinist appearing at my shoulder, playing a tragic melody, and mocking “Wooozoo, woozoo, woozoo!” As I had been reading “The Gnostic Gospel of John,” I had a sudden attack of insight, remembering the quote from the Round Dance, Learn to suffer and not to suffer! I realized that Jung would remind us that it is the Ego that suffers and the Self that watches. As Hindu wisdom puts it, We are all like two little birds – one eats the fruit and the other one watches!

As I grew older, another device of my mother’s, brilliant in its way, was that when I misbehaved, she would turn the tables on me and ask, “Now if you were the mother and had a daughter who carried on this way, what would you do?” This never failed to make me stop and think and respond with serious, sensible, and almost adult advice!
I was a total sucker for reverse psychology and, as I have Uranus rising and almost as a reflex did exactly the opposite of what I was told to do, she would say things like “Of course, you aren’t able to pack your suitcase in time for us to leave for the station!” And, boy, did I show her! It took me years to catch on to this. Or if she wanted me to enjoy a book, she would hide it and let me discover it.

But what I want to share with you especially is her summary of our human lot. She told me in later life that she had decided that as individuals, each of us had to encounter at least three problems: the needs for love, for money, and for health.
She added that most of us faced one of these at a time and could deal with it, but confronting two at a time was a real challenge, and that all three simultaneously could be devastating!

Now in my old age, I realize the profound truth of this. Up through my adolescence, I lacked only for the greater presence of my parents, and then came a long, long stretch of the search for Love. Sigh. When I married for all the wrong reasons, I soon experienced all three at once. Health (I had a near-death experience with the miscarriage of a third baby which left me an invalid for over a year), followed a few years later by such extreme poverty that we were the family the church brought the Thanksgiving turkey to! So I was challenged by Money and Health as well. Had it not been for my abiding spiritual connection to my Teacher, despite his departure from this world, I might have given up. By then, I had come to understand more about karma.

In the end, when I was fifty-seven, ten years divorced and led a new life teaching, I had the positive blessing of all three at once for almost eighteen years, after I met and married my beloved Polar Bear, Walter Andersen, and now thirty years later as I age, I am left without him, confronting Health, especially after the stroke in 1997, which has left me without the use of my right hand and the constant bzzzzzzzzzzzzing of paresthesia on my right side. So I appreciate those wise words of my mother and wonder if you who are reading this would not agree with them. The question I have for you is which of the three is the hardest to deal without. Given the world situation today, humanity is certainly being challenged by the collective lack of all three. My mother’s choice differs from St. Paul’s “Faith, Hope, and Love” in that Health and Money are physical needs, but both of them agree that Love can ease the pain brought about by the lack of the other two.

Just don’t take any one of them for granted and appreciate either Trinity when and if you are blessed or troubled at the moment! It might help in understanding that these challenges help us to grow in consciousness and are common to our human condition!

lovingly,
ao

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