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.
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?
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...
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...
The hardest thing is faith. I think we try so hard at everything else, all the other minutiae of our lives until we're so micromanaged, we chalk the whole thing up, at worst, as a giant failure or, at best, an exercise in frustration.
But if we could just focus on one thing, wouldn't that be so much easier? And what's more all-encompassing than faith? Granted, it sounds easy--just have faith and you'll solve everything. If only! But I think if we could just work toward that one thing, practice that one thing, then maybe the rest would fall into place?
After all, faith has a vast, spacious, and generous umbrella--faith in ourselves, faith in each other, faith in community, faith in the universe, and on and on. So, I'll say it--have faith. Have faith in your ability to be open to possibility. Have faith in your ability to get your sweet self through today and every day following. Start there, and have faith that the rest will fall into place.
Two magical things happened yesterday. One, my car wouldn't start (not the magic part). If you know me, then you know I love my car, but we've had a rough old year together. So, of course, I assumed the worst.
Well, then, wasn't it the most magical gift to hear that it was merely a corroded connection, and that the grand total for the repair was under 50 dollars? It was one of the highlights of my year, I tell you.
The second magical thing happened in the middle of the night--the power went out (again, not the magical part). All I could think about (after hoping it wasn't an accident and, if it was, that everyone was okay) was how this new thing would change my routine, how I have to hustle differently, and then (of course) I lay awake for hours, trying to read myself back to sleep.
And then I slept and I dreamed the power came on (as you do). When I woke up, I reminded myself not to get my hopes up, but then there it was--the streetlamp (the one I complain about being too bright--never...
Some of us try so hard to dredge up the positive, the beautiful in a situation because, I think, we're not hard-wired to see it (or we were and, somewhere along the way, those wires crossed). But what I'm learning is that we don't need to try so hard. In fact, I'm not sure we need to try at all.
I think, as the saying goes, hope floats.
If only we would stop shoving it back under in our desperate attempt at rescue. We, too, after all have some skill with buoyancy.
Sometimes, I think, our brains will keep running long after we're gone. It's that wind-up toy phenomenon--we've spent so many years letting our thoughts run the same track that it's all we can see and, when tuning into the inner monologue, it's certainly all we can hear.
That's why creative thought, creative problem solving, is so vital--it's food for the spontaneous self, that aspect of our personality so necessary for optimism, for joy, for ongoing, eternal energy.
So if the world doesn't stop you short every once in a while, stop yourself, and look at where you are. Then, just for the heck of it, choose another path.