Let all things be exactly as they are

How I longed to breathe a complete sigh of relief as we touched down on the runway in Puerto Vallarta. But I knew the trouble I had expelling all air from my lungs had less to do with the lingering respiratory infection I had not yet vanquished than with the apprehension I couldn’t shake over my ability to endure another vacation. After all, in recent years–the more deeply I delved into understanding and practicing A Course in Miracles–my vacations had morphed from mindless romps in the ego’s various theme parks to mindful field trips in exposing the pain of the ego thought system. Accompanied by my special relationships and unfettered by the distractions of everyday life.

It was on vacation in another part of Mexico just two years ago, for example, that I came face-to-face with my inner ego toddler in full-tantrum mode for days over external conditions falling short of its expectations. Even though that led to an elongated moment of knowing completion, release, and relief—a welcome transcendence of all personal desire—it was only a moment after all; a piddling instant wedged between days of inner strife. (In the corner of my eye I caught Jesus winking at that thought.)

Oddly enough, though, as my husband and I waited in line and filled out forms at the high-end all-inclusive resort along with my daughter, her boyfriend, and his family, I felt enveloped by an odd calm, caught myself smiling a strangely familiar smile, beaming out at the world despite the sweltering afternoon humidity that had already annihilated my ridiculously fine, ever problematic locks. Although I could feel my IQ plummeting, I willingly extended my wrist as a woman behind the big desk fastened the bracelet that would enable me to gorge and anesthetize myself at the various buffets, restaurants, and bars scattered about the secured, tropical compound. Unpacking in our spacious room I couldn’t help but marvel at the expansive view of  bay and breakers and the kinds of sunsets that attract couples ready to tie the knot (as they frequently did, all week, right there before our very eyes).

The calm followed me to dinner that night, yoga, the next morning, and the breakfast buffet where I gratefully consumed eggs and goat cheese and sunset colored fruits, nodding sympathetically as my husband grew increasingly and understandably agitated by continuous emailed notifications from American Express. The card we had checked in with just hours earlier seemed to have been somehow hijacked; bogus charges multiplying like some runaway, global retrovirus. I was not upset by the high pressure tactics of the representative of our travel agency at our “mandatory” meeting in which he tried to sell us various excursion packages. He was just trying to make a living, feed a family, in a harsh environment; fighting the same hard battle as everyone else here in this dream of exile from all-inclusive, enduring Love.

The “unusually aggressive” sting rays that prevented us from swimming for days did not trouble me. The fumes in the back seat of the sans air conditioning Taxi my husband, daughter, her boyfriend, and I took into Puerto Vallarta the next morning stung my nose and throat and still infected lungs but did nothing to alter my smile. The drone from the massive construction project on the corner below the balcony where we lunched on grilled fish had no effect on my peace of mind, even as I raised my voice to be heard and leaned forward to hear. I was not upset by the proprietors in the shops on the boardwalk where we purchased gifts and a Day of the Dead figure for our collection as they tried to peddle yet another property that was “definitely not a time share, señor and señora,” although I was happy to end the afternoon with a ride back to the hotel in an air-conditioned van.

I did not even occur to me to question this new and improved state of mind as I sat quietly on the balcony watching a yellow bird catch an exuberant breeze, the big blue book open on my lap to workbook lesson 268: “Let all things be exactly as they are.”

I was somehow inexplicably and magically able on this trip to let things be exactly as they are. Conscious that peace of mind has nothing to do with the way things are in the dream. Peace of mind just is, completely independent of seemingly external conditions. It springs not from what happens in a dream of having our own way over God’s—our stupendously demented attempts to impersonate God instead of accepting ourselves as part of God–but from what we are. Why would I want to argue with that? Besides, things are exactly as they are because nothing ever happened as a result of our failure to smile at our declaration of independence from all-inclusive, eternal Love. The error was corrected the moment it arose in the one mind of the one child of God we are and remain.

I was downright giddy with peace as I headed down to the pool to find Jesus where I thought I’d last spotted him by the swim-up pool bar, raising a glass of turquoise liquid and taking in a water polo game. He was not in the breakfast buffet either. I could not find him at water aerobics or Bingo or anywhere on the premises.  And then it dawned on me that maybe I didn’t really need him at the moment, much as I’d love to see him in a sombrero or trailing along in a Conga line. In my right mind, I had merged with his as we all do and (at least for now) no longer required an imaginary, embodied big brother to lean on.

Practicing forgiveness day in and day out had resulted in an extended period of right-mindedness, just as A Course in Miracles promises us it will. After months–OK years–of changing my mind about what appears to be happening to me  in my so-called life and looking at my illusions with Jesus as my teacher I had received these days wherein I resided in the quiet center Jesus talks about, invulnerable to the seeming waves crashing around me “out there.”

Not even occasional meltdowns among my closest co-stars disturbed me. Not even this pushing six-week infection, awareness of my aging body heightened by scant clothing, or the often less than attractive behavior of my fellow Americans on holiday. Admittedly, one morning, I watched myself veer into wrong-mindedness over an encounter at the hotel. But as I began to recount the seeming injustice to my husband as we strolled along the beach, I caught a glimpse of Jesus riding a boogie board in my peripheral vision, immediately let my grievance go; and remained largely right-minded the rest of the trip for reasons that happily defy logical understanding.

There were so many opportunities for judgment and self-judgment on a vacation like this but each time I reached for the muscle of condemnation  I found it happily disabled by the work of forgiveness in my daily classroom. Although the ego continually tried to worm its way in, its various antics culminating in multiple jelly fish stings during a snorkeling excursion that left me with an extreme case of vertigo, I was somehow able to withstand the ego thought system’s venom. Although, like the jelly fish, it seeks to paralyze and disorient us we are never truly prey. It is possible to experience even physical paralysis without joining it. I held my husband’s hand and leaned on railings and walls as we headed for dinner. Stepped carefully and reneged on the sake in favor of Ibuprofen and sleep but had no desire to allow fear over my physical condition to send me into panic or unnecessarily involve my costars. Should more threatening symptoms arise I would certainly consult the hotel physician but, until then, I just rode it out. What, after all, did it have to do with what I really am? (Feel free to quote me on that, J.C.  🙂 )

At the end of our week, I returned to Denver still un-invested in the dream I seem to be dreaming or the dream figure I seem to inhabit. Still peaceful, the respiratory crud still doing its number, the work I’d struggled and failed to finish before leaving still patiently waiting along with new requests and expectations. I am still willing as I write these words—at least until my secret fear of separation realized and special interests threatened returns—to let all things be exactly as they are. A lot more certain that all I really want is what I really am as one with you.

“Let me not be Your critic, Lord, today, and judge against You. Let me not attempt to interfere with Your creation, and distort it into sickly forms. Let me be willing to withdraw my wishes from its unity, and thus to let it be as you created it. For thus will I be able, too, to recognize my Self as You created me. In love was I created, and in love will I remain forever. What can frighten me, when I let all things be exactly as they are?”

NOTE: A Course in Miracles uses the character of Jesus as a symbol of the pre-thought of separation/awakened mind we can relate to and call on in the condition we think we’re in here in the dream. He asks us to bring all the illusions that arise in the classroom of our lives to him for review and re-interpretation from evidence of separate interests to proof positive of the “atonement,” the certainty that the “tiny mad idea” of separation from our source never happened and we remain awake in all-inclusive, eternally worthy Love, simply dreaming our silly dreams of exile.

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  1. Lovely post Susan! There is much relief in setting aside the “self”.

  2. A great example of taking a vacation … from our ego’s incessant interpretations and demands! 🙂

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