Shakespeare wrote, in Richard III, "Talkers are no good doers." I've always loved that, and I've always used it to remind myself that I don't need to fill space, that there's nothing wrong with quietly going about, getting on with my work. Silence, after all, can be far more profound--we don't have words for everything (and, really, thank goodness for that).
In silence we not only find ourselves, but we meet ourselves, sometimes for the first time after a long absence. That may not always be a comfortable reunion, but in time, it will resolve itself joyfully.
That is, if we don't talk ourselves out of the journey first.
I think it's a matter of not trying so hard and allowing the little things to surprise us. Rather than glossing over them, it's about waiting and holding them, testing their weight and finding delight in our ability to still, after all this time, find joy in the small things, the mundane things, the things that stay the same, and the things that live with constant change.
We think we see the same world day after day, but how can that be true? Perhaps it can be today's joyful task to hunt out the changes--the color of the leaves, the scent and direction of the wind--and find gratitude both for the change and for our ability, still, to notice.
I am allowed to change my mind. You are allowed to change your mind. We are allowed to change our minds. They are allowed to change their minds.
It's the most powerful permission we've been granted--to change our minds, to change our definition of ourselves, to change our passions, to change what it is we find important. And we can change as often as we wish--every day if that's what it takes. Because the most important thing is for you to be content with yourself.
But here's the trick and the hardest thing--love yourself as you are, even in the midst of change. Otherwise desperation, panic, and hatred will find you drawing hasty conclusions and taking paths that may look clear and easy, but bog you down in their sameness or, worse, leave you exposed and without shelter. There is no shame in stopping, turning around, and heading back the way you came, then choosing a new direction.
I'm as tired as anyone abut the advice of looking at x or y from a new perspective. For one thing, you have to change out of your super-comfortable pity pants which, let's face it, takes more energy than most of us have at the moment. And, for another, you might just have to accept the reality in which you live. You might have to accept that there are some positive aspects to your days and that everything is not terrible all the time.
My very best friend in the world passed on this insight recently: the brain would rather be right than happy. **The brain would rather be RIGHT than HAPPY.** Sadly, that is incredibly true, at least speaking for myself. We have to work at finding happiness. The brain will find all kinds of easy reasons for our misery, but I'm not sure happiness is hardwired. Or maybe I just missed the download. Either way, happiness is something that can be taught. We just need to find the willingness to learn.
I say all of this about not wishing for otherwise because I aspire for it to be true. My current truth is that I wish for otherwise all the time. I have this mad belief that if I don't, if I accept the less-than-ideal now, that it will always be this way. But of course, that's not only nutty, but untrue, impossible, and exhausting.
There *is* no alternative to this moment and the only way that will ever change is to rub the grit from our eyes, say yes and thank you, and build a future based on the next decision and the next. This is where we are, and this is how we will learn--finally, truly--what it feels like to be content.
It's the materials and circumstances at hand that we have to find peace with--those are the only materials with which we can work. Wishing for otherwise will do nothing but make us--and those falling into our immediate orbit--miserable.
We can only effect change with what's immediate. We can, of course, work toward larger change, larger goals, but each triumph of contentment we can muster in the moment, day-to-day, is a direct and vital piece of that larger change.
What small choice, what small adjustment in perspective can we make today, not only to ease our passage in the world, but perhaps to allow ourselves a glimpse of that happiness we've been promising ourselves for so long?
At some point, the mantra 'I wish,' becomes exhausting--like throwing pebble after pebble into a well with the hopes that, one day, you'll fill it. It's a waste of energy and a dispiriting practice, to say the least.
Instead of 'I wish,' say, 'I am,' and fill in the blank--with something good, something worthwhile, something deserving of praise, even if you haven't bothered to praise yourself for quite some time.
It's easy to see the gloss on other people's lives, and it's so easy to wish for a little polish of our own. But I'll tell you this--I have no doubt they're singing the same tune as the rest of us--a human habit, and one we are powerful enough, clever enough, and rich enough to change.
We forget we have a choice of focus. Yes, we're tired; yes, we work hard. But the tiredness is well-earned, the working hard allows us to feed and clothe ourselves, to rest when we can. Illness means our body is working toward health; restlessness means we're halfway there.
I get it. It's so easy to go negative because it's always, always there--maybe it's a side effect of gravity? But even at our most blissful, our most in-flow, the negative is there--we're just too well-balanced, too much the masters of perspective to let it bother us, to let it pull us down.
But if we can remember those moments--those balanced moments--even if we can't pull ourselves into them, then I think we'll get a window into what it will be like when we finally accept contentment as our natural state.
I think we're so used to editing ourselves that we don't even realize we're doing it. I want to walk wildly through the world, but I have no idea what that looks like. I want to love what I do so much that I thrill to place my feet on the earth each morning--a love so large, how can it be so difficult to identify?
I wonder if we've become so fearful or (worse?) so jaundiced that we wouldn't know contentment if it offered us a fairy crown and wings to match.
It's sad not to know one's own mind, but it's terribly tragic not to know one's own heart.
I don't really want to talk about my struggles. But I really don't want to talk about my joys, either. Really, I just don't want to talk. I only want to sit here in the sweet silence of this sweet company and give all my attention to being content here, now.
Perhaps that strikes you as a waste of energy, focusing it all on remaining content in the moment. But you know, I imagine it's how a kite feels the first fifty times it's launched, looking down and checking, again and again, to see if its string is still secure, eventually learning that yes, it is safe to be happy here now, to trust the currents here now.