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don Miguel Ruiz



Musings of an Awakening Spirit

Stories, poetry & general musings of Rebecca Haywood, a modern-day Shaman with a penchant for bringing the divine into the human experience.

Almost Free

If you have ever been to Teotihuacan, Mexico, you are well acquainted with the many vendors that call the ancient city of pyramids their office. Some more dedicated than others, brave the hot sun as they circle the dusty plazas in a peacock-like display of their goods. Others linger like sleepy dogs in the shade, springing to life at the approach of an unsuspecting tourist. Whatever the species of vendor, they all share a common ‘mating call’. Amidst the song of clay whistles and school children, their call is unmistakable and ever so alluring, “Almost free; almost free!”

As a spiritual pilgrim, one might view their presence as a distraction but I have always viewed them as wonderful teachers. After all, they are a perfect reflection of the many voices of the mind vying for attention in hopes of selling the latest judgment.

Magically, vendors would swarm just as I was attempting to fend off a moment of doubt, and as I switched to fending the vendors off with a polite “No, gracias”, I quickly learned that even this was attention enough for them– a signal of weakness amongst the flurry of peacocks and dogs. Just as with my thoughts, my polite investment in their reality only acknowledged their existence and invited a conversation.

And if my curiosity surrendered a glimpse, the vendors would quickly multiply and their mating calls would crest in competing crescendos, “Almost free; almost free!” with peacocks flashing and dogs howling. If a sparkly pendant caught my eye or a whistle entranced my ear and glimpse turned to gaze, the vendor of my affection would close in for his final move, “For you, one dollar!” Yes, the price was going up and they were all in on it, “One dollar; one dollar!”, as if in direct reflection of my mind’s ability to lure my attention by raising the emotional price tag.

Even if I managed to side-step these initial advances and reclaim my attention, I would inevitably hear their call again. It would come for me as soon as I set my sights on my ‘final’ goal, the pyramids and my reunion with the Divine. The moment I declared my intent, there they would be, lining the path to the pyramids– gangs of peacocks and dogs.

In cue with the surging desire for my goal, their mating call would take chase, “Almost free!” getting louder as I neared the pyramid, “Almost free!” When doubt held my gaze, I clung to their words as a promising mantra, “Almost free!” and chased it up the pyramid. When pride held my gaze, I heard their words cheering me on “Almost free!” and I triumphantly trotted along, confident at my pending success.

Doubt or pride, my attention was captured by my beliefs, and I would pay the price because my happiness was invested. Whichever voice I chose, I would land in the same place– almost free. I could descend the pyramid back into the chorus of vendors with my doubtful self cowering behind her evidence of “almost” and my triumphant self relishing in her evidence of “free”, or I could make a choice to end this battle once and for all: surrender.

Surrender is the final act of every spiritual warrior and this time I was surrendering my freedom, or rather my concept of it and the ensuing investment. For so many years I had upheld the quest for spiritual freedom— freedom from my domestication and the limits it place on my expression, on my love. I had examined every way in which I was not free and explored new ways in which I could be free. But at some point the seeker had become a prison warden for my freedom, holding her for observation, and my attention was too busy examining the prison bars to notice the open window.

It was time to stop seeking and to start being, to see freedom not as a concept or as something to obtain, but as something that already existed here and now. I would cut the carrot from this string and eat of its sweetness! I would claim my right, inherent to my very soul and that fire of life and love that I am.

“I am free!” My voice pierced all others within my mind, “And without a cost to bear. My pockets may empty, but only because they have nothing to lose; my truth has nothing to defend and my love, nothing to prove. And my presence, my expression—limitless and changeable—needs no permission but my own. I am granted these wings and I choose to fly.” 

And just like that, with the simple act of a choice and an unyielding declaration, the battle for my attention receded into silence. The call of the vendors became another note in the song of Teotihuacan. And my mind was finally quiet enough to hum along. I was free.

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