What does it mean to be whole? And how close can one expect to come to reaching that goal? Can wholeness be achieved on a budget, or must you take out a second mortgage to finance the extensive seminars, requisite therapeutic boot camp, monthly doses of New Age and self help books and daily supplies of vitamin supplements and all-natural wonder drugs guaranteed to help you live to see age 100? Through the ages these are the questions man has struggled with – well, at least the first two – and while we certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, we hope this special section will provide you with enough food for thought to find at least a few new possibilities for bettering your life.
After all, bettering your life is both an exquisite opportunity afforded you by the universe and your sacred responsibility to yourself. Marketing experts love to point out that our community has extra heaps of disposable income. But no matter how strongly Karen Walker swears that her platinum card can “buy a little happy,” there is no price tag on wholeness. It can’t be bought, only reclaimed. It’s a path you must follow, and no luxury automobile can you take you there.
Take responsibility for your pain and open yourself to joy
We all hurt. It’s that simple. And simpler still is the fact that people hurt us because they, themselves, are hurting. Our parents are a prime example. They do the best they can and in the process usually manage to mess up pretty good. Did they really mean to? Probably not. Is it their responsibility to fix it? No, it’s ours. Lots of us gay folk walk around with what we feel is a pretty well earned chip on hour shoulders. But whom are we weighing down? Only ourselves! Consider this quote from Peace Pilgrim, the feisty old woman who walked across the country seven times preaching an end to war. “If you recognize that all of your inner hurts are caused by your own wrong actions, or your own wrong reactions, or your own wrong inaction, then you will stop hurting yourself.”
Learn to hear the sound of silence
Stop! That’s the lesson in this one. It’s that simple. Life is a constant struggle of juggling responsibilities and commitments. There aren’t enough hours in the day, enough days in the week. Your “to do” list keeps on growing and there’s no end in sight. Remember, the answers to all your problems lie inside of you, waiting for you to call them up from the vast database that is your mind, the archive that is your eternal soul. But how are you ever to find them – to hear them – if you don’t work on tuning out all the noise around and tuning into yourself? The English theologian Jeremy Taylor said that, “Meditation is the tongue of the soul and the language of our spirit.” Be still and hear its message.
The best way to get a blessing is to be one
You’ve heard the saying, “If you want to get something you’ve got to give something?” Well, we think that’s a bit backwards. Our suggestion is to give to others and then stand back and watch in wonder at all you receive in return. Being of service to others is an essential part of achieving wholeness for yourself. For part of being whole is to recognize one’s place in the universe and to realize that we are all connected. Peace Pilgrim, yes, her again – is very plain on this rule. “You shouldn’t even have the selfish motive of attaining inner peace for yourself,” she said. “To be of service to your fellow humans must be your motive before your life can come into harmony.” Think about it.
Know your support systems – they are out there!
Maybe your support system is simply a solid group of friends. Maybe your issues are more serious and, therefore, your support system should be, too. Our community is blessed with a long list of resources, from counselors and therapists to support and social groups. The point is, wherever you are on your journey, you don’t have to be alone. But remember that happiness is a journey, not a destination. You never stop growing till you die. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Only people with dreams and goals of their own will be able to understand yours. Or in the words of Mary Jean LeTendre, “Never confuse stability with stagnation.”
Lighten up and laugh
Restoring yourself to wholeness is serious business. It takes great effort; and maintaining peace inside of yourself requires constant work when ‘yourself’ is in the midst of such an un-peaceful world. We’ve only given you suggestions on how to build the most rudimentary of wholeness-restoring skills in this story. You’ve a long road ahead of you if you really and truly want to reclaim your birthright and rediscover the wholeness that lies within you. Remember, though, that those steps should reduce the stress in your life and never add to it. Restoring yourself to wholeness and reducing stress are actually synonymous. You can’t do one right without doing the other. One of the best ways to both is let joy enter into your heart through the channel of laughter. Funny films, witty friends, whatever the source, you can never let too much laughter enter your life. Writer Jean Houston said it best, “At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”