So often I overhear something to the tune of 'my life is crazy right now.' Is it? Is life crazy? Or are you crazy and your life is simply a reflection of that manic need to fill up, fill in, catch up, speed up?
We lead pressured lives, ok; I get that. But I'm not so sure it's all as critical as we make it. Most deadlines, most engagements we can see coming for days, weeks, months. It takes very little effort to dole out the needs of those engagements over time, freeing us to slow down, deepen our connection to the moment, and breathe.
But you know, I'm not sure that's what we want. Because in that silence, those pauses in-between, we see what we really want, what we're really missing, or how we're deluding ourselves on one score or another. Self-reflection can be a big ol' sit-down in the principal's office, I know--but the longer we put it off, the worse the confrontation becomes.
But do we want to keep up the my-life-is-crazy-right-now mantra? How many years have we left in us at tha...
I call myself a hermit and, compared to most people in my circle, that's probably accurate. But interdependence is essential to a healthy ecosystem, humans included. What becomes dangerous or, at least, damaging, is when we begin to craft our mini-societies around the core of our personality, our individuality--either to highlight or to obscure it.
If we bury ourselves in another--group or individual--then we're, at best, as good as useless--nothing more than a worker bee answering, often with relief, to orders; or, at worst, we allow ourselves to become absorbed, body and soul, into the person/group/cause until we forget that there was once a tall timbered center here--independent and life-giving, now nothing more than another log rotting in the forest.
On the other hand, if we set ourselves apart--out of fear, frustration, exhaustion, distrust, or ego--that independent, tall timbered center takes over, petrifying itself until we've become unbending, unmoving, unable to leave the cave...
A shift in perspective is old news. It takes a frustrating amount of mental energy and is often done grudgingly--like showing your work in math class. Besides, it's usually at the behest of so-called good advice, and really, when is that last time following advice had a lasting effect?
No, what we need is a shift in consciousness--a simple stilling of the noise of the inner waters and a fuzzing out of the gaze, letting what's out there rush in to fill that raw, churning, gnawed-on space.
Filling an empty glass is as easy as dropping it into the stream, and as much as we think we're filled to the top with our worries/fears/obsessions/possessions/problems/workload, we're not.
Thinking we're full is the first sign we're dangerously close to running on empty.
Oh, man. We are all tested. That's how it feels, anyway. Or, maybe, more benignly, like we're at the center of some huge cosmic joke and the punch line has *got* to be coming any minute.
A big universal #justkidding.
And then, eternally flabbergasted, I think, nope. This is just how it is. This is just how it is, and we have to make do. Simplify. The less we have to herd, keep track of, or replace, the better. The more we can invent, rely on our own cleverness of mind and cleverness of hands, well, the happier we'll be, I think.
Because really, that's not only the awesome-sauciness of doing something for yourself, but suddenly, in a world where you're never good/clever/skinny/strong/young/old/smart/capable/solvent/productive enough, well, you've just proved a big ol' hell-yes-I-am. I mean, look! Look at this bad-ass thing you just made. That's the community, the tribe, that will put the punch in the punchline.*
To paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh, your mind can go in a million directions, if you let it. IF you let it. (It's so easy to let it). But we can choose to walk in peace. And if we have a choice, why not make it? Why not walk that path when it's already there for the walking? The wind might blow, might gale, yes, but the flower still blooms.
You know, I don’t regret a lot--a fact for which I’m grateful. I’ve never regretted my travels, my adventures, but I might regret what they've cost me. Or maybe I resent what they've cost me. Regret has never felt like the right label—I don’t long for a person, a place, an object not taken, traveled, or met. Maybe it’s not in my nature or maybe I just have a different definition.
But resentment, there’s a word with which I have intimate acquaintance. And maybe that’s worse. I’ve never been a grudge-holder, but I am a resentment holder. I resent that I’m uncomfortable in my own skin. I resent that I become a complete flustered mess when talking to a stranger—any stranger. I resent my lack of solvency and neediness of any kind—in myself or in my orbit. I resent being depended upon because it traps me, closes off my escape routes.
So I love this landscape that needs me not at all. I love that the snow falls with no regard of how it will disrupt my day, my muscles, my plans. I love that...
Just think about it for a second. What if, whenever you came into contact with someone today--friend or stranger--you paused, really looked at each other, and then either said (or didn't say), the simplest, kindest, most transparently honest thing warranted by the situation? What if we really meant it when we asked how another was? And if we didn't care to ask? We just remain silent, taking a moment to acknowledge this human's right to be here.
Just think--no more games, no more omissions, no more gilded truths, just honest congratulations, honest joy, honest sorrow, honest envy, honest grief. What if we shared these moments with each other? Or, if not, what if we just shared them with ourselves? What if we called a joy a joy, and a kick-in-the-pants-bummer a bummer.
Maybe it's not okay. Maybe it is. How do we know until we just sit for a minute--no technology, no distractions, no flashing lights or sound clips, no headlines, ideologies, or assumptions.
I connect, I think, more easily (readily? willingly?) to places than I do to people, and I find that a common landscape is a much better means for meeting people in my tribe than is anything else; landscape presents an opportunity for connection; it's the catalyst. So often those connections are born out of some temporary situation, but because of that circumstance, the connection isn't forced or artificial. There is no small-talk, no social media, no 'social' anything. Just joy and circumstance, presence and reality.
That connection, in other words, doesn't need to be maintained, upheld, or last beyond its natural life. It just is.
There is no 'liking' of photos of status-of-the-day,
It's so rare to know you're happy in the moment you are happy.
It's so rare, and the trick is not to tell yourself how rare it is, but to enjoy it, and not worry about its impermanence, about having to hang on so tightly. Instead, just tell yourself you're happy and watch, in amazement, the simple truth of that statement.
When it goes, it goes. But impermanence doesn't mean easily lost. It slips away, but it always comes back.
That, after all, is the nature of all things circular.
Some things we try, despite their apparent futility, because we're compassionate and we're human. That's what we do. We try. We try to connect, we try to move, we try (if we're doing things right) to communicate. But here's the thing--communication involves a great deal of listening.
And, much to our constant surprise, very little talking.
If we're doing it right, the moving becomes a mutual exchange of listening. Not just hearing, but comprehending what is said, what is heard, what is on offer.
The problem with this is that listening is a skill in decline (our political system is, ahem, just one example of such a breakdown).
You want your herbalist's recommendation? Go to the woods. Or the prairie. Or the ocean, the mountains, the roof of your building, the city park. Plant yourself (yes, a deliberate choice of words), and just let space remind you what you'd forgotten about listening.
Let yourself take what you need.
Practice as often as possible.