Monday, February 19, 2018

Paradise

February 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Patricia's Journey

Last week, I experienced a short and sweet cruise with friends from Los Angeles to Ensenada, Mexico aboard the Carnival Paradise.  A cruise never made my Bucket List until I toured a Royal Caribbean ship ten years ago.  It was a spectacular floating city and unlike anything I had ever seen.  At this healing transition in my life, I wanted to experience the convenience of a vacation that required only a couple of up front decisions:  which ship and when.  With no house to keep and no child to care for, it was relaxing.  The Carnival Paradise was a smaller ship filled with about 2500 people.  We don’t know where they were storing all of these people because it never seemed crowded. People were giddy to be in the sunshine, coming from places where snow was their landscape.  My friend Jan told me at one point there was snowfall in every state except Hawaii.  It was a magical trip…food appeared to meet your every whim, your room was cleaned daily, clean dishes were readily available and unlimited ice cream.  Now I know how my son feels.  Your bed was turned down each night with an animal shaped towel perched on top.  I went to the towel folding demonstration one morning. When you stay in my home, don’t be surprised to find an elephant on your bed.

The elephant in the room

And people ate…and they ate and they ate…and they drank.  Sometimes too much on both accounts.  The first night we were on the sidelines watching a group of 25 people who have cruised annually for the past four years.  On the Friday night of each cruise, they celebrate 80′s Night complete with personas from that era.  One of the women fell off her bar stool…twice. They must have done that a lot in the 80′s.   The second time, we heard a thud that we think was her head hitting the floor and watched as two of the 80′s Rockers propped her up and walked her to her room. At least I hope it was her room and not the next bar.

80's Night

We met Rick, a sweet young 25 year old, cruising with his grandmother and cousin.  Yes, his grandmother.  I was moved at the honoring of this gracious, elegant woman in Rick’s life.  He was quietly celebrating his birthday the first day of the cruise.  He thought I was a movie star with my cropped chemo hair style, so naturally I loved him at hello.  At dinner that night, I shared with the Maitre d’ that it was Rick’s birthday.  I didn’t know his last name or where he was sitting, yet they found his table amidst the vast dining room and surprised him with a birthday song, birthday dessert and birthday candle. A quiet birthday?  I don’t think so.

Rick and his grandmother and cousin

Prior to the cruise my commitment was to continue my current level of self care as best I could.  That meant a daily walk on the treadmill and other exercises.  The women’s gym had a steam shower which was a new experience for me and I loved it!  This care for my physical well being was important on a spiritual level.  Would I be willing to love and care for my body no matter what?  No matter how it affected others?  Would I take a stand for myself?  I missed the sun rises in order to sleep in.  A friend treated me to a facial.  My technician was a young 20 something with flawless skin and a smoothly delivered pitch to sell her products. About 20 minutes into the experience, I thought if she said  ”fine lines and wrinkles” one more time, I would not be responsible for my actions.  She is young enough to think she will always look this way.  She looked at me as if I had failed where she will succeed.  If I had purchased every skin care item she used on my fine lines and wrinkles, my total would have been $560. She promised we could stop the aging process immediately.  I wrinkled my 50 something nose and said “no, thank you.”

Life on a cruise ship (see my bicep?)

My attempt to get on an earlier flight coming home didn’t happen and I spent seven hours on Monday in the LAX airport. Finding a book in the airport store, I settled in to read.  After several chapters, I went to the Ladies Room where I left the book sitting on top of the toilet paper holder.  When I returned to the stall, the book was gone and had become someone else’s unexpected gift.  I told the story to the sales clerk, repurchased the $15 book and as I was walking out I could hear her say “was she kidding?”  It was worth another $15 to find out if Ralph Truitt would find a reliable wife by placing an ad in major newspapers (late 1890′s) so he could then use the reliable wife to bring home his son long lost son Antonio.  Of course, Ralph and the reliable wife both had hidden agendas.  On the flight home, I was seated next to a couple that required three seats, not two.  You get the picture.  The husband was four times my size.  He could have twirled me like a baton.  The flight attendant moved me ten rows back where I settled in next to the Art Director for the TV series “Lost”.   The six hour flight was over in a couple of hours.  The day after returning home exhaustion set in.  My physical limits were pushed from the travel.  My son had become ill while I was gone and he missed the entire week of school.  We spent the week recovering together.  God took care of me and we both took care of Alexander.

An incident unfolded during the trip that provided me with further insight about feelings I don’t want to feel.  You can’t heal what you can’t feel. Somewhere in my body there is still some energy running from a very old program that says it’s not OK to feel anger.  And on this trip something happened and I felt anger.  It wasn’t until days after the cruise that I discussed it with Dr. Sandy and gave myself permission to feel it.  I am still learning to allow myself to feel mad when it’s appropriate.   What happens when I don’t allow my anger?  What can follow is abuse by lack of acknowledgment.  If someone is doing something that is affecting me, it is not helpful to sit there and say quietly to myself “I’m going to let it roll off my back so they don’t know how much it affected me because I am such an enlightened being and enlightened beings don’t get angry.”  (eeeghads!)  If I’m sitting there acting like it doesn’t bother me, then that person isn’t going to acknowledge how much their action really affected me.  When we are quietly angry, the other person will make a choice to keep on treating us the same way.  They will think it’s OK.  And over time, it will continually break you down a little more, and a little more, and a little more.  If I can express my anger, they can see it’s affecting me and they might make a different choice.  And the expression of my anger is my gift to myself and it can be their gift of transformation as well…or not.

The Crazy Man and the Kabbalist

Thinking about the purpose of life as a process of change and diminishment of ego reminds me of a short but important story.

The great kabbalist, the Baal Shem Tov, was visiting his student Zev in the town of Zabriz. In the morning, as they were about to enter the house of prayer, a crazed man jumped in front of the student and proceeded to curse at him and berate him for ten minutes straight. He hurled insult after insult, how terrible his behavior is, how he lies, how he steals, and it got progressively worse and worse for ten minutes. After finishing his tirade, which by this time had drawn a crowd of onlookers, the crazy man went on his way.

The Baal Shem Tov asked his student to explain what just happened. Zev shared with his teacher that every morning this crazy man waits for him by the door of the house of prayer and yells at him and berates him for some time and then leaves. The great kabbalist said to his student, “I am envious of you, Zev. You are purified every morning in a way I can only hope for. I wish I had somebody who yelled at me in this way every morning.”

This story might sound strange to some, but they understood a lesson that we’d be lucky to understand now and to live by. Our purpose in this world is to change.

It is from the embarrassing, uncomfortable, and difficult situations that we change the most.

Kabbalists of the past did not run away from these situations; they embraced them. To accomplish the change we are in this world to accomplish, we need to embrace this ideal and experience the uncomfortable situations. We can do so knowing it is from these actions and moments that we change, grow, and draw the greatest blessings into our lives.

Kabbalah Centre International

Carnival Paradise lived up to its name.  Returning to Hawaii was paradise.  Knowing paradise was inside of me was the shortest trip home.


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