The Huddle #4: Be Our Guest
The Guest House This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice. meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whatever comes. because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. — Jellaludin Rumi If you have listened to Laura Carstensen’s TED talk on how older people are happier, you know that once we realize we are not going to live forever, the happier we become overall. I’ve seen this in my own grandmother, who’s allowed her judgement to soften year after year, her joyful radiance and booming laughter taking over. It’s not that older people chose to be more positive. In fact, older people are more likely to report having conflicting feelings than young people. As psychologist Tara Brach says, “when death makes a gesture toward you, all pettiness falls away”. And though many of us have suffered loss and perhaps even had a near-death experience, we don’t need to experience death in order to pick up our feelings one by one, dust them off, and clarify what is important and true. This is not to say some of your feelings matter and some don’t. Rather, it’s the opposite: everyone deserves a seat at the table. In yoga, you’ll often hear your instructor say, “Let go of anything that isn’t serving you.” But how do we know what is serving us and what isn’t? First, we must sit everyone down and hear them out, even if they contradict one another: excitement and fear, hope and despair, loneliness and fulfillment, forgiveness and resentment. It doesn’t make us righteous to put our suffering aside and chose to be optimistic, nor does it make us more enlightened to focus on the struggle of ourselves and others. We are complex creatures, these guest houses, with hallways and shadows and crevices. And whether you often choose to focus on the good because you fear you can’t take the bad, or you choose to focus on the bad because you’re not sure you’re deserving of the good, I’m here to remind you: YOU are the house. YOU are in charge. Whomever you let in may be strong and may be loud but they will not take over- YOU are stronger. Swing the door wide open and say, Be My Guest.