Being a Rat

According to Chinese astrology, since I was born in 1948, I am under the sign of the rat. Here’s what it says and boy, is it true of me…the good, the bad and the ugly:

“Clever and quick-witted, This sign flaunts its style at every turn. Its natural charm and sharp, funny demeanor make it an appealing friend for almost anyone. The Rat likes to know who is on its side and will treat its most loyal friends with an extra measure of protection and generosity.

Behind that sweet smile, though, Rats are keen and unapologetic promoters of their own agendas. This sign is motivated by its own interests, which often include money; greed can become a problem if the Rat isn’t careful to keep its priorities straight. This sign’s natural powers of charm and persuasion can definitely come in handy! Although they are often hoarders, Rats can be very generous to those in their pack, namely friends and family members who have proven their loyalty. Others might perceive them as quick-tempered and sharp-tongued, but never boorish. Verbal jousting is a great pleasure for the Rat, a sign that everyone around will quickly learn either to love or to hate.

A valuable lesson for Rats is to learn to consider others above themselves, at least sometimes. If they can develop their sense of self and realize it leaves room for others in their life as well, Rats could find true happiness.”

In another arena, Numerology, according to Glynis the Number’s Lady, I am a Nine:

“The natural leader. People assume we are in charge even if we are not. If in a department store, people think we work there. We take care of everyone else but need to learn to speak up when we need help, love, and hugs. 9s often feel unloved or abandoned by our mother or father, or we feel completely responsible for them. It’s hard for us to let go of the past.”

Ok, so this stuff can be fun and mildly interesting. I don’t take it all that seriously, but it does bring me to make this point about myself:

Although I practice something that lets me feel peace within myself, it doesn’t turn me robotic or vegetative, and it sure doesn’t make me into some kinda yogi with a blissful smile on my face, emanating a constant state of good will! (Just ask my friends!)

My god, who would want that anyway? How odd it would be. Human being is a “feeling machine.” Whatever you put in front of it, that’s what it will feel. I have a choice, a big percentage of the time, but can I totally avoid pain, sadness, grief, fear, doubt, anger? Heck no. Can I do something to keep those things at bay as much as possible? Yep, I sure can.

Is that easy? What do you think? Does it sound easy? Hell no. Hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do, and yet I would never stop, because the reward, the outcome is everything to me.

What lies within really is who I am, the only experience I’ve found in life that makes complete sense and puts me in a consciousness that still surprises me, year after year.

So we think climbing Mt. Everest is a challenge? Making a fortune? Writing a best seller? Try feeling that real peace inside every single day!

“Holy Crap”, indeed!

How good are most of us at having that “heart of a child” every moment of life, as every scripture recommends? Hell, I’d have more luck winning Dancing with the Stars, becoming the oldest astronaut in space or matching the talent of Segovia, than staying connected with that innocence that lies in every breath.

Is this all simple though? Big difference: Simple, yes. Easy? No way. Worth the effort? More than words can say.

So, off I go, back to my rathole, which isn’t, in reality, all that bad. I’ve finally filled it with enough good stuff to make it immensely enjoyable. I don’t delude myself as much anymore, about most of these concepts I’ve had in the past about what makes my life fulfilling. As the saying makes abundantly clear, “Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.”

In my view, that just means I’ll always be a human being; vulnerable, limited and flawed, indeed. Yet at the same time, incredibly, I’m able to perceive and feel the ultimate beauty and the deepest love and gratitude, despite those very human characteristics.

As my friend Prem Rawat says often, “Yes, you may just be a speck of dust, but what an incredible speck…”

I can live with that.