Maybe we'd be better off if we just saw everything as a beginning. Maybe we'd have more faith in ourselves, in the world, and in the possibility of optimism as a sustainable worldview. Maybe it's as simple as that--a change in language, switching out one word for another.
Let the endings take care of themselves, knit themselves neatly and tuck in their trailing threads while we begin again. Again.
Be grateful, too, for unanswered prayers. I read that somewhere, and it's never failed to make me feel immensely better, as if we're not out here on our own, as if there IS a guiding hand gently nudging us first in one direction, then away from another. Because we don't know, we can't know, we might as well believe. We might as well believe in a higher good, a compassionate universe whose joy is in our joy.
If we can believe that, the rest becomes a little less important, a little less fraught, a little less like a constant flirting with deadlines and a little more just, well, flirting--with life and chance and the thrill of the unknown.
Because maybe you really are supposed to be here, and maybe it really is okay not to know what comes next.
Remember--it's just a day, neither good nor bad, but here and sacred and worthy of your attention, no matter what is (or isn't) on your to-do list.
We have to unlearn our negativity, our dread, our anxiety and replace it with wonder--with force, if necessary. Because it is wonderful--even if it hurts you to say it because of circumstance, say it anyway. Say it until you can pretend to believe it and then say it until it means nothing and then say it and say it and say it until it means everything.
We have nurtured and bred within ourselves a penchant for catastrophic thinking. We're really good at worst-case-scenario. And perhaps at one point that was necessary, for an instant or two in our lives when it was best to be prepared. But when did it become a habit? When did expecting the worst become the reality?
And here's the worst (ha!) of it--we begin to believe that not only will the assumed horrors happen, but that we are deserving of them. We've learned to forget that good things can happen for us, that we are the kinds of beings who experience luck and goodwill and a universal generosity of spirit.
Hard to believe, isn't it? Well, why not? What have we to lose but a disturbing dependence on darkness?
We have so much power--and that's both wonderful and dangerous. Wonderful when we remember that positivity and faith are our birthright--our default mode before we were taught otherwise by the hard edges of the world. Dangerous when we let the dents from those hard edges cripple us, trip us up, determine the way we will, from here on out, walk in this world.
For today, let us skip the banged-up middle bits of our journey here and remember when magic existed around every corner--familiar or no--in every color, in every storm, in every sunrise, in every nightfall. Let us remember there was a time when we weren't afraid, when we had a cavalry of angels, a field of fairies, a legion of guides at our service, a time when we were on a first-name basis with hope and well-acquainted with grace.
Maybe so many of our tangles come from trying to figure it all out--what to do with our lives, where we went wrong, what we could have done differently, what we *should* do differently, repeated ad nauseam. In fact, running that well-worn track seems to be primarily what we ARE doing with our lives. And honestly? It's just another way to escape, just another way of remaining trapped in our minds and absent from our bodies, where the real living happens.
Maybe, as a dear friend pointed out, all we have to do is ignore the chatter and invest in sensation. Relax our grip on our thoughts, recognize them for what they are--just another habit, just another addiction--and stop giving them so much weight. That's the key, I think--that ranking, that label. Not everything is a top priority. Not everything is that important. So much (so much!) is just filler and so used are we to the adrenaline rush, to the stress response, to the fight-flight-or-freeze that we know no other alternative.
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...
Even breathing, we are art. We are a collection of found objects, curated treasures, unique imperfections, long lines, and daring curves. Even uninspired, we are inspiring--if we'll allow ourselves the luxury of belief, the all-too-necessary food of faith.
We have compromised our own happiness for so long that we have no idea what it would entail to reinstate it. (I say "we" because surely I'm not alone in this.) It's easy to say you owe no one your happiness, but it's hard to pull yourself from the sticky web of "fitting in," of "people-pleasing," of "going along to get along." We've sacrificed so much, true, but we've done it by chipping away, sometimes by sanding away--losing such small quantities of ourselves over such long periods of time that we hardly noticed the change until we snap under our own sorry weight.
As always, I have no answers, only questions. *Find what makes you happy*--well, easy to say, but for many, many of us, an impossible ask, and a search that leaves us, not energized, but immobile. Immobile with the realization that we don't know ourselves at all, that we've forgotten how to find that pure, sparkly thing that made us who we were to begin with.
Some things we're just born with--hair color, eye color, height. I have also come to believe that our default outlook--positive or negative, optimistic or pessimistic, has to be one of them. Can it be mitigated and controlled? Possibly, for short periods of time. But I don't believe the default setting can be changed.
Or perhaps I say this because, try as I might, I'll never be an optimist. Although, I'm not quite a pessimist, either. I don't think it's a black & white thing, but that I fall into the "perpetually wary" category. I have a hard time with those things I cannot see, and I have a hard time believing in universal benevolence, at least, as far as I, individually, am concerned.
I also believe that some people are lucky, and that luck favors those who know who they are and what they want--consciously or unconsciously. I've never been one of those, either, and it's a trait I've always, always envied. Especially in hindsight. I think I've made unfortunate choices in...