It's been 5 months now since my father died, and the sharpness of it has largely receded, but I found myself sad a bit today, missing him being in my life with his quirks and delights. His death has been such a lesson for me in the importance of living NOW, and appreciating this moment, each moment, and savoring the hours as they come, and as they go.
"In each moment the fire rages, it will burn away a hundred veils. And carry you a thousand steps toward your goal."
~ Rumi ~
We have ideas about the way things will be. We imagine them in advance, and feel certain of our imaginings. And then, when we encounter the reality, it's often entirely other than we thought it would be, and we adjust ourselves quite readily considering how much we had invested in our vision.
We're adaptable beings- far more adaptable than we give ourselves credit for being- and we're afraid of the future more than we need to be, because it always works out, and we push on and find our way- awkwardly maybe at times- but nonetheless, onward.
Another week has cycled round, and how have we spent it? Have we been kind? Present? Productive? Filled with doubt? Have we had lovely peaceful moments? Have we been in nature and noticed the trees? Have we felt free?
It's useful every so often to ask ourselves questions such as these to re-orient ourselves to what matters, to what makes our lives a pleasure, and to what makes them stressful and keeps us hardened and missing out.
"All that is involved in the consideration of rhythm..."
~ Edgar Allen Poe ~
Life and time are a mix of the practical and poetic, of stillness and movement, of work, and of play. It is a daily experience that we have, and a seasonal one- sun-up to sundown. And how we interact with it is our choice. We can rail against it, go with the flow, or burst out laughing.
The point and the purpose is bigger than the task in front of us, whatever that may be. It's in the way we approach it. And we are happy or not, enjoy ourselves or not, and feel fulfilled by our lives or not, depending whether we align ourselves with natural rhythms or fight against them, wrestle with the world and everything in it, or dance with circumstances and people exactly as they are.
"Not enough" is a mindset that infects our lives like some pestilent disease. Not enough money, not enough time, not enough time alone, not enough time with others... there's just not enough!
Ever felt that way?
If we're honest, I imagine we all have. And yet, in spite of the collective mindset, we're very well mistaken. With only the slightest shift in our perspective we can see that the exact opposite is actually true... that there is enough and that we are enough and that life is exactly as it should be, and thinking otherwise just puts us in a state of conflicted unhappiness.
Let's choose blessings and mercy and pleasure and faith. They are certainly as valid, and most certainly a lot more fun!
"This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and attend them all! Even if they're a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in."
"There is no daily chore so trivial that it cannot be made important by skipping it two days running."
~ Robert Brault ~
Even if we left a room in perfect order- vacuumed, dusted, windows cleaned- over time, it would still require additional cleaning. Cobwebs and dust pile up. Care requires maintenance. So the question is, how well are we caring for ourselves?
I attend to my heart, mind, body, and soul on a daily basis.
"We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth."
~ GB Shaw ~
It feels good to be there for people, to care about them, and let them know that we are available to help, or to sit, or to listen, or to send love from a distance.
Let's tell people when they are in our hearts and on our minds. Let's connect with them and allow them to connect with us.
"In the body, and the instincts of the body, there should be no shame but rather a frank, joyous pride."
~ Arnold Bennett ~
Sometimes, the body is just tired. There's a physical kind of heaviness that demands our respect. And though we may cajole it and distract it and caffeinate it, the ultimate solution is rest and trust, that whatever is requiring the extra down time will also heal what needs healing, and move us toward high energy and buzzing aliveness yet again.
"There are two types of fishermen- those who fish for sport and those who fish for fish."
~ Author Unknown ~
Fishing is an apt analogy for so much of life. We are baited by and bait others. We get hooked on lines. And sometimes the hook slips and we swim away, and sometimes we get caught up and thrash about. In too many interactions in life, one or the other of us seems to have a fishing pole in hand.
And yet, what makes for pleasant, and truly effective interactions between us may be less fishing, and more team-sport: running and passing and working together to achieve a common goal.
I stop trying to get people to do things for me, and collaborate with them instead.
"If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters."
~ Alan Simpson ~
One individual's lack of integrity, or wish-wash, or perpetual lateness, affects a wide swarth of other humans. For the world to work and function efficiently, we must be good to our word, honest in our intent, and consistently show up on time.
When we're lazy, when we're slippery, when we're manipulative, and whenever we blow things off, we cause problems for others. We are an inter-connected group, and our actions ripple endlessly across the pond.
I live by integrity and by the sincerity of my word.
"Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history."
~ Joan Wallach Scott ~
Forward movement is rarely a straight line. It tends to zig-zag and backtrack and u-turn such that it hardly even feels like forward at all. And yet, we do make progress. We gather information and grow. We learn. We make mistakes and adjust accordingly. We adapt and improvise. And life goes on. The sun rises and sets, and carries us with it, and at some point, we find ourselves way down the road and look back, and can't even remember how it is exactly that we ended up where we are.
"Our thoughts are unseen hands shaping the people we meet. Whatever we truly think them to be, that's what they'll become for us."
~ Richard Cowper ~
I have spent so much of my life caring about and fretting over what other people think of me, without having any real ability to change what they think. There's freedom in recognizing that it doesn't really matter, or mean anything, or have to affect the way I am. Judgment is so personally skewed that it lacks veracity. What matters most is our level of integrity and who we know ourselves to be.
There's a difference between impulse and instinct. Impulse is reactive, and often childish, defensive, or aggressive. Instinct, on the other hand, springs from a divine creative source.
Let's be aware of the difference and not confuse them for convenience-sake. Being impulsive makes for trouble while being instinctual make for clear sight.
We live inside the fantasy story that our minds create, and sometimes it's a happy story and sometimes it's not. The point is to recognize that we're the author of it, and that we have the power at any time to switch around the key players, and the meaning, and the plot.
I'm not a fan of the heat, and yet, the heat is here, and likely here to stay. So rather than whine about it, I want to be grateful for breezes and fans and air conditioning and early morning and late evening. And thunderstorms! When things don't exactly suit my fancy, I can always re-frame my mind.
I am grateful for the four seasons and all that they include.
"In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt ~
In each of our lives, we have overcome limitations and imprisonment of one kind or another, and we enjoy the blessing of our hard-won freedoms. Now is the time to acknowledge them, to remember where we came from and what oppressed us, and to celebrate the fact that in that way we are no longer oppressed. And to take from that fact hope, that freedom is possible, and that it comes, even against all odds.
"It is well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others."
~ Andrew J. Holmes ~
When we resist the moment- the heat, the people, the circumstances, or the change in plans- it gives us a sense of righteous, egoistic power, but it doesn't actually change anything. It just makes us unpleasant in our own skins and unpleasant to be around.
We get power when we accept reality for what it is. Then we can work with it and create something positive from it. Then, we can take action.
Our whining gets us nothing worth having. Our acceptance gets us power and peace. So the primary question in any given moment is: what do we choose?