I already know how little I need to be happy, to be peaceful (in fact, less equals more room for peace). But it's so easy to focus on material stuff, because it's there. You can hold it, donate it, reform it, recycle it.
But what about the other stuff? The preconceptions, the judgments, the expectations, the anxieties, the uncertainties? We don't have to expect the worst, but we so often do (I so often do), because that's the default, just like it's the default to buy a bigger/better house/car/wardrobe with a step up in income.
But there's no rule telling us we *have* to define our lifestyle by a generous paycheck. Nor do we have to let our fears and cynicism ruin the simple structure of our days.
I don't know how many times I've told myself that I was just going to start asking for what I want/need, and not say yes (or no) when I didn't want to, not make promises I couldn't keep, or redefine the truth to make myself fit in.
Well, now I'm not only telling myself, I'm telling those...
We all have a threshold--some of us are just able to encompass more acreage than others, covering more ground during our daytime hours. But it's not a race, even if most days it feels like one.
We have remarkable brains and firm boundaries--both are here for our protection, and when we embrace their daily limits, they serve us well, inspiring us to create, to make connections, to embrace color and change and dynamism.
But when we push too hard, we begin to crack--and that fault-line, once opened, will not only swallow us whole, but everyone else in the pull of our orbit.
It's probably our most valuable natural resource, sleep. And I tell you, I will bend the rest of my schedule so that I have the best chance at enough of it--and I have no problem saying no. I know what life looks like without enough sleep, and it is dire. So dire, I don't even want to talk about it. When the ability to sleep is taken away? There is nothing in the world we (most of us) wouldn't trade to get it back.
So if you sleep well, cherish that--you are rich, petals. And if you don't? Brothers and sisters, I hear you. Let's all just be a little kinder than necessary--fragility is more widespread than we could ever imagine.
I have gained very little in my life from my in-born propensity for pessimism, from my habit of focusing on the negative. And though I have tried to wrench myself toward optimism, toward a more positive outlook, it's never stuck.
And I wonder why I'm so often crippled by anxiety (I don't wonder, actually...).
Do you know what it is? Why I can't seem to shift my outlook? Because it feels fake. Because it feels like, if I hope for and believe in the best, that I'll be constantly disappointed, and my fear is that that disappointment will lead to worse anxiety, eventually spiraling into depression.
Ha! This is obviously NOT the inner monologue of an optimist.
But anyway, here's my plan. I'm going to try one more time. Even if it feels like I'm faking it. Even if there's no feeling of belief or conviction behind it, I'm going to try to shift to the positive. Every time my brain launches a negative attack, a worst-case-scenario, I'm going to counter it with something positive, with be...
We were not born to be timid. Wary, cautious, sure, depending on the situation--our survival depended on it. But here's the thing--wariness, cautiousness can make us stronger. They can make us braver. They are the first tools we need when we go out into the world, because to feel cautious, to feel vigilant means we are testing ourselves, stretching ourselves, exploring the world--either literally or creatively--we've been set down upon.
But to let timidity creep in, to let it keep us from stepping outside our front doors, is a terrible loss. Timidity is a taker of hostages and if we don't rise up and fight back, then we'll be doomed to the same uninspired view for a very long time.
We so often forget how strong we are. You know why? Because strength is hard--it's hard-won, and it's hard to maintain for extended periods of time. But it's those marathons of strength--the ones that leave us exhausted and in need of long recovery--that we remember best.
Well, of course we don't want to live those again, and of course we think of them with trepidation, in fear of their recurrence. But what we forget is that we have successfully won every day we've lived through--and life ain't for sissies, man. Every single one of us has what we need to get ourselves up, move through our days (to do so gracefully is optional), and to thank both our guides/gods/powers and ourselves for navigating our course once more.
To do anything more, we must first realize that we can do anything.
Here's what I've forgotten: to trust my mind to stillness. Instead, I've been fighting like mad under the tempting assumption that to let the mind still would mean that there's nothing to stop the avalanche of dread, worry, anxiety, and worst-case-scenarios from coming toppling down from where they've been shoved and shoved again.
But that, doves, is the crux of the illness--this belief that it takes all of our brute strength to ward off the messy onslaught of our minds. And the ridiculously unfair and cruel thing about worry, about anxiety is that the more we struggle, the more it manifests. Think of it this way: a glass of water on your desk, when left alone, will not rush up and topple the glass, soaking everything in its path. Of course not--that's not the nature of water. It takes a force--the wind, the moon, the tides, gravity--to inspire movement, gentle or violent.
We are our own act of god--we provide our own force by struggling to hold everything back. But her...
It's such a fine line, isn't it? That line between "explain" and "defend." And I think it all depends on perception, which sounds simple, but we've learned by now that simple rarely means easy. Your perception is colored by your history--how hard have you struggled; how comfortable are you with yourself, with claiming your choices whole-heartedly; and have you the skill--and experience--to differentiate between true curiosity and weighted questioning?
And then, of course, the other party's perception is involved--what is their history, how comfortable are they with new ideas, and are they driven by curiosity or by power? Those last two, when manipulated skillfully, can be almost indistinguishable. So back to you--do you ride, by default, on faith? Transparent in every answer? Or is your experience colored by cynicism?
It's no wonder our communication breaks down--so many factors to intuit, to take *time* with, and that's so rarely what we allow ourselves. I have a feeling if we co...
I woke up this morning and decided, for no reason I can understand, to write about love. And then my thought ended there.
Maybe it's because I'm feeling too exhausted to channel any inspiration (although, it might be said that a sleepy mind is quite likely the perfect instrument to come up with something more true than not).
Okay. Here's the thing: I go to bed early and get up by 5 a.m. every morning, not because I have to, but because I like to. I don't care what anyone else's habits are, but I will tell you this--I don't like to be teased about mine. I never have. Maybe if I were a less self-conscious person, then it wouldn't phase me. But after all this time? I think self-consciousness and I are wedded for the long-run.
What on earth has this to do with love? I don't know, except this--I've known unconditional love only a handful of times in my life, and this, for me, is the deciding factor: with that person, you will never feel self-conscious. Which is saying a l...
Ever see someone try to leave the dock, only to realize they're still tethered to it? There's always a moment of confusion, of gunning the engine because *surely* more force is the answer.
More force is very rarely ever the answer.
We can't force ourselves to be kind, to be brave, to be content, to be satisfied. I mean, we can, but it's short-lived and not very pleasant or honest. But what we can do is allow it. In other words, stop fighting the tide, the cycle that *wants* to carry us away from the shore if only we'd stop struggling for a second and look around for what's holding us back.
Now. I say this while living with something that, at the moment I cannot change and that, in the immediate, impacts my sleep and my quality of life. But what can I do? Painful as it is even to write this--I just have to surrender. I have to surrender to time and hope and faith and the belief that we can be healed and that we can heal all aspects of our lives--physical, emotional, external, internal....