Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

The Pink T-Shirt

When my daughter was little she would put a pink T-shirt on her head and pretend it was long hair. She would stand in front of the mirror swishing it around and styling it. Yes, that child could braid a T-shirt. And make it into a ponytail or a bun.

One day we were getting ready to go to the store. She ran to get the pink T-shirt, and when it was arranged to her liking, she headed to the door.

Looking back at me, she asked, “Will people think I have long hair?”

“No, sweetie,” I said gently, “they will think you have a pink T-shirt on your head.”

She paused as a shadow of doubt flitted across her brow. But just for a moment.

“No they won’t,” she said resolutely. And flipping her long, cottony tresses over her shoulder, she skipped away.

That is one of my favorite stories of her irrepressible childhood.

I was reminded of it recently when I caught myself in a pink hair story about a situation that I wanted to be a certain way. I told myself that it was indeed how I imagined it to be, and was puzzled and frustrated by all the evidence right in front of me that didn’t comport with my desire. I wanted to dismiss anything that contradicted the image I had created.

It didn’t work, of course. I saw pretty quickly what I was doing, and still I was reluctant to let my dream go. The hold that our delusions have on us is strong. And so I did what I’ve learned to do when out of sync with what is.

I sat.

And I began to inquire. What is the nature of this desire? Of the reluctance to let it go? Where do I feel it in my body? What is underneath?

I became aware of the energy it took to sustain the delusion, and I could already feel how tiring that was. I could observe the suffering of attachment, even a minor attachment such as this one. I saw, as is often the case, that our attachments are rarely about the object or story of our desire. We have to go deep for the source to be revealed. And as my hold softened, compassion welled up to soothe the loss.

I pulled off the pink T-shirt with gratitude, and lovingly put it away.

It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. ~Carl Sagan

15 thoughts on “The Pink T-Shirt”

  1. Such a lovely post. I have had more than a few pink t-shirt moments myself. I am so glad I found you, Galen. I feel like we would be good friends in more than a virtual sense if you lived nearby. 🙂

  2. 'And so I did what I’ve learned to do when out of sync with what is.I sat…..And I began to inquire'

    I can relate to your story, Galen.

    We had a family get together yesterday and like all group activity there was a lot of conversation. After all the talk and thought activity I woke at 3:00 am with all these thoughts on my mind. I was out of sync like you were, with at least ten different thoughts that were troubling me. So I did what you did, I inquired and was able to observe the feelings, the emotion in the body caused by these thoughts. Through breath meditation the body became relaxed,then when the body was in a controlled state, the thoughts were observed one at a time and I was able to release the mind control of each one by a process of releasing them to the power that was greater then the mind.I realized what a relief it was that I did not have to identify with all these thoughts, emotions or even the body reaction. This is liberation, meditation works like no other method. For me its about releasing control from the mind and giving it up to that greater infinite intelligence, the nameless one self, which seems to control everything. Later after I got up, I knew that all those thoughts I had let go off, no longer had power over me. I had faith that it was all under the control of forces much greater then my small finite self. Some call this higher intelligence, Christ, Buddha, Tao, or the universal Self. I will refer to it as the nameless one.

    Sorry for the long reply….

  3. Please don't apologize, Brian. I appreciate the time you take to comment and share your own experiences. The nameless one–as it says in the first chapter of the Tao Te Ching, "The name that can be named is not the eternal name." Thank you for sharing your own story of liberation. It is one that many can relate to, I'm sure.

  4. I like your poem 'Let it go" its true, there is so much more….so much more… all of nature whispers let it go..there is so much more. As we let go, we live in freedom.The peace that passes all understanding is possible. We enter through what in Zen, is called the gateless gate. Heaven's gate has no barrier, only our clouded veil of perception stands in the way. When we become nobody and lose our somebodyness (as Ram Dass called it), becoming as a little child, we can then enter into the fullness of life that the Jesus character spoke of in reference to…the kingdom of heaven.

  5. Thanks for the great description of the gateless gate. Becoming nobody is reflected in the quote I have at the top of the blog. Glad you liked the poem!

  6. 'There is nobody who can teach the way of no way. It cannot be learned either. Teaching and learning require someone. When there is no longer anybody, then the way of no way is evident and there is neither need for learning nor desire for teaching. ~Todd Jackson'

    So,my take on this is … being nobody is in itself the teaching of the way of no way. When there is nobody 'there is neither need for learning nor desire for teaching.' The striving to know with intellect stops and we just live the way nature intended, in a more intuitive heart based way. It is a way of perceiving directly by intuition without rational thought. This would destroy the thought based ego's dominance over us and diminish it to that of servant rather then master. This is exactly what all our spiritual guru's have been saying for thousands of years. When the master returns the whole house is restored to order. The master is Spirit which works through our heart or intuition. Mind (ego) makes a great servant but a poor master. In this light, it becomes obvious why the world is in such a mess. Collective ego is in control. When humankind rises its consciousness above ego and into Spirit we have moved in the right direction. Is this the hope of glory we have been waiting for.(Col 1:27)


  7. Well said, Brian. Every time you comment it reminds me of something else–ha! Now I'm thinking about chapter 38 of the Tao Te Ching which goes through a hierarchy that reflects your comment here.

  8. The new testament is full of master and servant imagery. I believe the mind was designed to be servant of the master Spirit. Perhaps, the myth of the fall of man points to the time in history when this relationship got reversed. The mind became master and Spirit awareness was pushed down and edged out.With no awareness of a master Spirit the psyche of man set up his own kingdom and put a false identity of self(ego)on the imaginary throne. Enlightenment, Liberation or Salvation may be words we use to describe the reversal of this dichotomy.When we think of Spirit as master, this is our inner guru and our teacher. This divine Spirit leads us into all truth. When our mind is diminished to servant it will eventually enjoy the less responsible position, because its role was to protect us and now, Spirit got that. Now, mind can do what it does best as servant to a much more powerful and intelligent master guidance system with minimal stress.

  9. Indeed.

    By the way, Brian, I left a comment on your blog last week, but it never appeared. Looks like you have comment moderation enabled (as do I). You might be missing some comments if you are not checking your "comments awaiting moderation" page. Or perhaps you just prefer not to publish them, and that's fine too of course.

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