On this eve of my 35th birthday and eve of the anniversary of the birth of my niece (+we share a birthday), I sit alone in my apartment feeling far far from alone, snuggled up on my couch with my blind meowing cat, post strenuous yoga class, looking over the lilac purple twilight as it hugs down around the San Francisco skyline tighter, repeating over and over in my mind the question my yoga instructor asked in class this morning.
“What are you fighting for?”
The first thing that came to mind in class was “ME OH MY GOD ME, I’M FIGHTING FOR ME” which was followed by lots of self-empowering and self-loving thoughts, which were immediately followed by that familiar pang of shame and feeling of separation for choosing myself. So I quickly threw out that answer, and spent the rest of the day miserably searching for a more noble one.
In the past year, while so much in my life has changed, so much has remained the same. One dramatic shift: I’m training to be a Kundalini instructor. One obvious sameness: I’m still angry at and have a painful relationship with my family. No matter how much I meditate, practice yoga, chant, or practice living the Sikh Dharma way, I can’t escape the anger, pain and resentment I have towards some things. The more I try and accept, love, forgive, and move on, the more I find myself not allowing myself to have sympathy for that anger that still burns from past, new, and perceived future hurt, and more importantly, not having sympathy for me. The more I resist it, the more it persists and translates into external anger. Not so Sikh Dharma way.
I am walking a spiritual path to discover my true self, to become my higher self (tough), asking myself to live up to some ridiculous standards like being a servant and putting others first at all costs (tougher/impossible), and believing some made-up belief that I must engage in all relationships and find a way to be the higher person and choose love over fear and if I don’t do that, I’ve failed (impossible/bullshit). The thing I overlooked is that being your higher self takes time, you don’t get there right away. If you don’t take care and nourish and nurture that part of you until it grows and has its own root system, no matter what you believe or how much you try, there’s no freaking way you’ll be able to put outward anything that is of use to those around you. You have to shine on the inside before you can hope to beam it outside. You have to love yourself before you love another thing. That’s so cliché, I know, but it’s also so true.
Okay, so what am I fighting for? Eventually, peace and equal rights for all of humanity. But for now, the truth is, I really am fighting for me – my future, my vision, my dreams, my health, my sanity, my soul – me me me. And that is something to be proud of. Fighting for my self-reverence and for something to revere in the first place is nothing to feel shame or guilt over. It is the noble answer, because fighting for me means that one day I will be strong enough to fight for every other living thing.
My higher self definitely approves of this plan, and I’m sure God does, too.