Holes & Shovelling: Some thoughts…

<January 2009>

I’ve had the thought for a lot of years now that most of us are full of holes – & that we spend a lot of our time trying to shovel stuff into the holes.

Money…things…experiences…accomplishments… Most of the time, quite unaware of what is really motivating us. We just keep right on with the shovelling – endlessly, on & on & on with the shovelling.

And then, too, I recall reading a book a couple of years ago that suggested we are all “shit-shovellers.”(1) That resonates for me pretty big, as well. Our lives are full of such challenges – gutwrenching challenges like having to survive difficult (even horrific) childhoods, illnesses, divorces, deaths, wars – you get the picture, hmm?

Shovelling shit…

Shovelling stuff into the holes

The problem is, there’s a great big HOLE at the bottom of the hole.

So all that stuff we shovel in there just falls right out the other side anyway.

Well. Usually I’m Ms. Upbeat. The woman with a cheery answer to every problem or dilemma. Sorry about that!

I’m out here doing my own fair share of shovelling, currently, Gentle Reader.

I do my gratitude “thing” – I do my fair share of the world’s work – & it all brings me a very considerable amount of satisfaction/joy/contentment, no doubt at all about that.

But sometimes (especially lately – currently), I come face-to-face with the horrid realization that, like most human beings, there always seems to be something more I want. Sure – the “more” I want isn’t really material – & I’m not going to have to do any world-destroying in my quest…

Or…hmmm…maybe I need to just abandon the quest…

Wanting more is just a way of denying the reality of this present moment, isn’t it?

It’s just resistance to what is.

Buddhists talk about emptiness, or lack of desire. I have had some (wonderful) moments when I’ve experienced a very full kind of emptiness.

An utter lack of desire. A completely satisfying emptiness.

I think today I get – in my gut – that perhaps the reason I always want more is not just that I don’t have “enough,” but that I don’t feel I am enough. Some of my life circumstances & some recent (& not-so-recent) events seem to argue this pretty loudly.

So I’m considering adopting a new mantra today.

I am enough. I AM enough. I am ENOUGH.

And also, I have enough. I have ENOUGH.

One of my mantras for some time now has been “Everything isn’t all about ME.”

I try to remind myself often, too, “Be here now.” (2)

All three are going to be very, very helpful for me, I know it….


p.s. Stephen Jenkinson, whose amazing work in the field of palliative care I greatly admire, said at a workshop of his that I attended that the word ‘sincere’ means to have our “holes” show. He gave some explanation of the word’s roots, which, naturally, I didn’t manage to take down. I’ve just lifted this definition from ‘Wikipedia – the Free Encyclopedia.’

“Sincerity is the virtue of one who speaks truly about his or her own feelings, thoughts, desires. Sincere expression carries risks to the speaker, since the ordinary screens used in everyday life are opened to the outside world. At the same time, we expect our friends, our lovers, our leaders ‘to be sincere.’”

I like Jenkinson’s take on it. Having our holes show

(1)  Darned if I can find the name of the book I saw that phrase in…but I’m going to keep trying to locate it!

(2) There is a book by that name by Ram Dass. I haven’t actually read it, I must confess, but I have read his Still Here – Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying – & enjoyed it very much. Buddhism is all about being here now – inhabiting the present moment fully. This is the greatest wisdom… Two other authors quite brilliant on this subject are Eckhart Tolle & Pema Chödrön. (You don’t have to be – or even aspire to be – ‘Buddhist,’ btw, to get an awful lot out of these writers. Their wisdom is for everyone.)