Looking With Our Better Eyes

IMG_1785I was just reading a piece I have in draft, one I never posted here.  It was a general rant about how much of what we read, see, are offered to take in via news and social media, is negative, derisive, and ugly.

I’m not going to post it.

I still agree with what I wrote.  How I’m tired of the negative, how I yearn for the positive. But I’m too old to be on the playground, and that’s what it feels like.  It feels like what it was to be out on recess, caught in the middle of some ridiculous name calling fight.  How those fights seemed to escalate into the absurd and how the passion for those ludicrous arguments seemed to escalate as well.  Escalation turned ugly, pushing turned to shoving, sometimes turning to blows.  It’s exhausting.

I want a revolution of thought, I’m getting bogged down without one.  I want kindness, ideas, offered solutions, compassion, a recognition of simple human dignity.  I don’t think I’m the only one.  I think most of us feel this way, even as we sometimes find ourselves participating in those playground-like antics.

What if, for a day, we posted only something positive.  The old adage, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.  If that’s you, post a photo of a sunrise or a cute puppy, or your grandchildren instead of that negative thing you are about to post.

What would that feel like?

I get up, I make my way to the french press and the tea kettle, I get my steaming mug of freshly made delicious coffee, I empty the dishwasher, I fold the laundry, I open my laptop to check email, then I head to my news feeds and finally Facebook.  I’m shocked to see news articles about new inventions and good deeds and how even though I may not agree with this politicians views on this or that thing, they have good intentions, or are good in this one area, or they’re smart.  I see that everyone seems to be posting how happy they are about this or that event, or friendship, or job opportunity, or the tasty hot meal they had last night.  I read about how this guy, running for this office, had this idea to solve this problem.  How interesting.  I hear that even though Democrats and Republicans and Tea Party people are staunch, they are fair, and understanding, and compassionate toward those who don’t agree with them.  I see kindness and forgiveness and goodwill toward fellow humans.  I see us disagreeing with respect.  I see sharing and helping and love.

Life is a matter of perception.  It always is.  We can look and see terrible things in our opponents, in the government, in each other, or we can look and see that even though we don’t agree it doesn’t make either of us a monster.  It doesn’t make either of us an idiot.  From there we can have reasonable discussions, we can listen to each other, we can gain understanding, and we can start to move forward, freed from the quagmire of distrust and finger-pointing and nastiness.  There is something to like in almost everyone.  Just as there is something to dislike.  We see what we want to see.

We can see the negative in things, in life, in each other, and we can dwell there.  If that’s the case, that’s what we will notice, that’s what we will pick up on first.  The problems, the differences, the ways in which things are not right.  Or we can see the positive in things, in life, and in each other.  We can dwell there.  In that place there’s forgiveness, problem-solving, things to build on, there’s hope.

It’s up to each of us to decide.  I’d just like it if I could wave the magic wand and for one day we helped without criticism, we offered opinions without disparaging someone else, and we talked about solutions with kindness, instead of venom and animosity.

I believe, with all my heart, each of us is doing the best we can in the world.  Making our way the best we know how.  Sometimes what we do is not that great, and most times if it’s not that great it’s because we faltered, or we were never taught a better way, or we ran into something that spiraled out of control.  We don’t know anyone else’s story.  We can’t presume to know.  We also can’t presume to think our ideas, our solutions, our way of doing things is the only way, or even the right way.  There are many paths to a good solution, there are many “right” ways.  Yes, there are wrong ways too, but we must make people feel safe in order to help them change.  We must make them feel listened to, just as we like to be listened to.  We can’t bully, or push, or strong arm people into our way of thinking.  Most of us hate being told what we should be doing, but we don’t mind being talked to, respected for our opinions, and offered other opinions in return.  We don’t mind a good chat.  We all feel we should be respected.  That doesn’t change with position or ideology or background.  We all want to be respected as human beings, and we all should be.

I don’t expect that we’ll all hold hands and sing Kumbaya, but wouldn’t it be great if we went at things with that in our hearts.  If we were open, loving, and kind.  If we all realized we were in it together.  Facing it together.  Because we are.  None of us are in it alone.  Everything we do, small and large, effects other people, and spreads like a ripple out from ourselves.

I can only start with me.  So this is me saying to me that I’ll try to be more present, more aware of what I say, how I say it, what I put out into the world.  I’ll picture the faces of friends and family, I’ll try to act with hope and kindness and understanding.  I will try not to judge.  I’ll try to be fair.  I will try to be a better listener.

Sure, we have a lot of problems, but there are also so many things that are good and beautiful out there.  Look around.  See them.  Feel what that feels like to see them.  To use a line from The Abyss, a movie I love, “We all see what we want to see. Coffey looks and he sees Russians. He sees hate and fear. You have to look with better eyes than that.”

Look with your better eyes.  Look with them, and see.

Words to Live By (Part 5)

“If I saw you hitchhiking, I’d smile and return your thumb’s up, just for you doing such a great job of being a positive roadside influence.”
― Jarod Kintz

1935760_142466655801_6505249_nBeing positive, having a positive attitude, looking at things with a glass half full changes everything about your day and your life. A person can look around and notice all the things in life that aren’t right, or need work.  They can wait for things to break or go wrong.  Or they can look and see the things that are working now.  They can see the blue sky, that there’s light and love and beauty all around them. One way leads to stress and worry, the other to contentment and happiness. We all worry, we all fret about the things that can go wrong, the things that might be going wrong, but we can’t live there, in that place. We have to live with light, and be in love with life. If we can manage that, even in times of trouble, we become a force for the positive. We can learn to see past what might not be OK now to know it will be soon.  We stay open to the world, instead of being afraid of it.  Light wins, dark abates.

“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.”
― Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Playing, as in riding a bike, or swinging on a swing, or going down a slide, or jumping in a bouncy house, is good for the soul. Those things speak to the kid living inside us and encourages that kid to come out and play. Being playful, however you do it, brings so much joy and happiness into our lives. It can be telling a stupid joke or saying something dorky to make someone laugh. It doesn’t matter how you get there, it’s that you get there in the first place. Joking around, being dorky, being willing to play, brings out the kid in us, the kid that’s always there, waiting to smile and have a good time. The kid that knows how to make things lighter and brighter and new.

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Reading  a good book opens the world to us. Words create bonds.  They convey insights into life, living, emotions we might not understand, ways of living that are different from ours, or the same as ours. In every good book I read I find some new meaning and depth in life.  A turn of a phrase can enlighten and fills out more of the story of living. Books open worlds otherwise unknown.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Friendship carries us through everything in life. The value of living is found solely in our relationships with others. In the experiences we have with the people in our lives.  Our friends can be there throughout our lifetime or people we only know and spend time with during shorter periods. They can be family or other people we’ve chosen to spend time with along the way.  Their presence gives meaning to all the most important experiences of our lives. They strengthen us when we need it, hold us when we need it, tell us the truth when we need it, and bring more love into our lives than we can even believe possible. The people we love and who love us back are the most important.  Period, the end.

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

Generosity of spirit and of self brings peace and tranquility to life. When you give of yourself you put out positive energy into the world, broadening it. Being generous of spirit means you give of yourself in small ways and big. You don’t have to give out loads of money, but you can get inclusive, you can share what you have to share, include others in your life, be gracious, be open, be willing to help when help might be needed, be a light when someone can’t see through the darkness in their lives. Being generous just means opening yourself and giving of yourself without thought for what you might gain from it. It’s selfless, and being selfless pulls us out of our own heads, our own lives, reminding us that we aren’t alone, and that we aren’t all there is.  It’s so important to remember that.  Be generous with your time, with your heart, with yourself.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Appreciation for things in life, be it the actions of a friend, the kindness of a stranger, the smile on the face of someone you love, or wet kisses from your dog, brings a sense of connection, joy, and awe about this life we’re living. Knowing to appreciate what you have, not so much the things, though appreciating those as well says you realize others might not have what you do and you should be grateful for what you have, but for the people in your life, for the food on your table, for getting to experience the experiences you do, helps you to cherish life, cherish living. Appreciating the actions of others says you acknowledge a kindness or a gesture of goodwill. Having a real appreciation for things means you don’t take them for granted. Not taking the people and things in your life for granted means you feel what they bring to your life. Feeling that brings meaning.

“i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)”
― E.E. Cummings

Being thankful for good and kindnesses and help and smiles in our lives further connects us to those moments. It brings a warmth and sincerity to our every day. A person can never say thank you enough. From the check out clerk to the post lady to helpful visits from family to just an everyday act of being passed something you asked for. Saying thank you spreads good will and encourages others to spread it as well. Saying thank you says you acknowledge the importance of what just happened. Saying thank you fills your heart with beauty and grace and a happiness that doesn’t come any other way. Being thankful, to your bones, for life’s little wonders, and some big ones, creates a force for so much good inside of you that it spills out to others. It gladdens our hearts as well as the hearts of those around us. You will never regret saying a deserved thank you. You will regret not saying it. We don’t act alone in the world, saying thank you acknowledges that. It’s a powerful force for good.

“When You Are Old”

WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.”
― W.B. Yeats

Grace can’t be put on, it has to be cultivated inside of us. Simplicity of movement, of thought. Being present for people in your life. Not like a bull in a china shop but by being quietly there. Not everything has to be done with a big splash, some things require a quiet manner, they require a certain dignity. I struggle with this, but reach for it, try to cultivate it in myself. I have seen grace under pressure, I’ve seen simple dignified grace. It is a beautiful thing.

“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.” 
― Marcus AureliusMeditations

Keeping quiet, not speaking unless you have something good or positive to say, perpetuates good.  Speaking out of turn, gossiping about others, even stating your opinion when it’s not asked for or warranted, creates discord, chaos, and possibly hurt feelings.  It’s always better to stay out of things.  Jumping into situations only helps to keep them going, to keep the negative talk in the fore.  There’s a difference between standing up for something or someone, and putting yourself into the drama.   There’s a proper way to stand up for someone or something without being nasty or ugly or hurtful.  If someone is hurtful, you don’t have to sink to that level.  If someone is bullying, you don’t have to become a bully to fight against it.  Don’t talk about others.  Talk about ideas.  Talk from a place of love and understanding.  Use your powers for good.  It will help to keep the chaos at bay.  It will simplify your life.  It will keep you from being the victim and will add to the strength you already have.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” 
― Hunter S. ThompsonThe Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967

Adventure can be found right where you are.  I watch the grandchildren and everything, including a leaf, or jumping off a step stool, holds adventure for them.  There’s a lesson in it.  We get so caught up in our daily lives with the business of living;  paying bills, making money, doing chores, we don’t stop and look and experience things in a pure way.  We’ve forgotten how.  But, it’s still in us.  Those feelings of awe and inspiration and wonder.  So go on an adventure, even if you can’t leave your house right now.  Make a game of it, tackle a task as if you’re on safari, narrate doing the dishes.  All of this beautiful life we’re living is an adventure.  It’s incredible.  Say yes to life, even if you’re unsure.  Grab it.  Be bold.  Be brave. Be adventurous.

“I examined the poets, and I look on them as people whose talent overawes both themselves and others, people who present themselves as wise men and are taken as such, when they are nothing of the sort.

From poets, I moved to artists. No one was more ignorant about the arts than I; no one was more convinced that artists possessed really beautiful secrets. However, I noticed that their condition was no better than that of the poets and that both of them have the same misconceptions. Because the most skillful among them excel in their specialty, they look upon themselves as the wisest of men. In my eyes, this presumption completely tarnished their knowledge. As a result, putting myself in the place of the oracle and asking myself what I would prefer to be — what I was or what they were, to know what they have learned or to know that I know nothing — I replied to myself and to the god: I wish to remain who I am.

We do not know — neither the sophists, nor the orators, nor the artists, nor I— what the True, the Good, and the Beautiful are. But there is this difference between us: although these people know nothing, they all believe they know something; whereas, I, if I know nothing, at least have no doubts about it. As a result, all this superiority in wisdom which the oracle has attributed to me reduces itself to the single point that I am strongly convinced that I am ignorant of what I do not know.” 
― Socrates

To be humble, to know you don’t know everything, allows you to be more relaxed with others.  It leaves you open to new and different ideas.  It broadens what you could experience, it creates a space to let others in.  If we think we know it already, there’s no room for anyone else.  If we are continually certain of everything, there’s no space for beautiful surprises and mistakes.  Being humble in our opinions and in our lives creates a place that says we are all in it together.    Absolute certainty, being right, is the bane of relationships.  Connections get severed because of it.  There’s always more than one way to look at something.  There’s always room for another idea, another thought on the subject, another viewpoint.  If there’s one thing in life I try to remind myself of its that I don’t know everything, I haven’t experienced what others have experienced, and my thoughts and ideas and opinions are no better than anyone else’s.

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” 

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

You can look at everything in life as something to battle, to conquer, and to fight, or you can look at everything from a place of love, understanding, and togetherness. Either perspective colors your world, informing how you live your everyday, and how you see things.  The choice is always yours.  If things have been done to you, you can turn around and project that nastiness out onto others, becoming the very thing you despise, or you can be the better human, rise above, and transform that ugliness to something wonderful.  The world is full of bullies who use as an excuse the fact that they themselves have been bullied. Do better.  Perpetuate good, light, and hope instead of fear, anger, and hurt.

Words to Live By (Part 4)

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”― Josh Billings

Dogs make things better, as do cats I suppose, if I had a cat in my life I’m sure I would think so.  I don’t.  I have dogs.  There’s so much joy there, in their eyes and the wag of their tails.  In the leaping and barking when they stand on the greeting couch after we’ve been gone for a minute or 10 hours.  In their constant need for us, to be near us.  I love them so, and that love is pure, like their love for us is pure.  Having them is a responsibility, and a pain in the ass sometimes if I must admit, but mostly it is beautiful and their eyes speak only love.  They are pure, and remind me every day about innocence and beauty and love for loves sake.

“Sometimes life is very mean: a person can spend days, weeks, months and years without feeling new. Then, when a door opens – a positive avalanche pours in. One moment, you have nothing, the next, you have more than you can cope with.” ― Paulo CoelhoEleven Minutes

Positivity leads to more positivity.  It also leads to hope and inspiration and joy.  It’s an old saying, think positively, but it does work.  That’s why it’s an old saying and why it’s stuck around so long.  Looking to the bright side, the up side, looking with hope, lightens your soul, your mood, your day.  Thinking that all good things are possible, and the next thing that’s going to happen can be better than the last thing, lifts spirits and hearts.  Being positive, trying to keep it positive, holds us up, negativity drags us down.  It’s as simple as that.

“Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?”

Knowing someone takes time, and effort.  It’s worth it, totally, for good or bad, and it never happens overnight.  Initially we put on faces for people, faces of the person we want them to know, the person we want them to believe we are, faces of the person we wish we were.  Those are good faces, but false ones.  To know someone we have to spend time.  We have to see each other with our faults on display, or mistakes out in the open.  We have to put in the time.  If we do, it can be a transcendent thing.  It can bring two souls close together.  To know and be known for who we are, there’s nothing more valuable.

“But luxury has never appealed to me, I like simple things, books, being alone, or with somebody who understands.” ― Daphne du Maurier
Alone time, enjoying your own company, isn’t loneliness.  Far from it.  Being able to spend time with yourself, and enjoy it, is vital to knowing yourself, your limits, your heart.  It’s in those times when we’re alone that we find out who we really are.  How do we spend our time, what do we think of, do we enjoy our own company.  Liking yourself is key.  Being able to be alone without much discomfort says you like spending time with you.  If you enjoy spending time with you, others will as well.  It’s as simple as that.
“To hold our tongues when everyone is gossiping, to smile without hostility at people and institutions, to compensate for the shortage of love in the world with more love in small, private matters; to be more faithful in our work, to show greater patience, to forgo the cheap revenge obtainable from mockery and criticism: all these are things we can do. ” ― Hermann Hesse

Patience is a virtue.  Yes, another Mom saying.  You get older, you realize those things your parents told you, those fundamental things, are true.  Patience with our family with our friends and with ourselves leads to less discord, a higher acceptance, better listening, deeper love.  We are not perfect, no one is.  People make mistakes, misspeak,  get into moods.  Life happens.  It’s sometimes messy and fast and crazy.  Patience helps us to slow all of it down, to take a breath, to get a moment to look more deeply into things.  Having it reminds us the little things don’t matter as much, patience helps us to narrow our focus to what does matter.  It’s the breath of life.

“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances. ” 

― Maya Angelou

Music articulates life in a way nothing else can.  Emotion, feeling, grace, anger, desperation, agreement, honesty, truth, beauty, joy, hope, distress, and on and on and on.  Feelings too numerous to list.  There is music everywhere, a rhythm to the world, underneath the noise of everyday life.  There’s even music in that noise, if you quiet your heart enough to hear it.  We are a part of it, our souls singing their own songs.  Artists articulate it for us, but we have our own as well.  I can feel the essence of things in a beat or a phrase of music.  Our hearts beat, our heads sometimes pound, our feet tap to the sounds of windshield wipers.  Hearing that ever-present music connects us.  Music lets us know we aren’t alone.  It helps us to know we are connected to the whole of the world.

“Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering – because you can’t take it in all at once.” ― Audrey Hepburn

Soaking up moments, trying to absorb details as they happen, connects us with what’s happening now.  Not just seeing, but feeling what’s going on right where we are, deepens our connection to the moments we have, and helps us to have a greater experience.  Skimming over the details, failing to absorb what’s going on right where we are, lessens our connection, distances us from the moment.

“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.” 
― Bruce Lee

simple life, living with less, craving less, adds so much richness to our lives.  Not being concerned with having stuff, things, collecting, lessens the burdens of life and frees us up to concentrate on the things that really matter… family, friends, being right where we are.  Things weigh us down, more than we think they do.  When we begin to let some of those things go, we feel lighter, unchained somehow.  It opens space in our lives.

“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” ― Virginia WoolfThe Waves

Coffee is essential to good living.  For me anyway.  I think everyone has that thing, small, but decadent.  Mine is coffee.  I look forward to it in the morning.  I’ve spent many an hour over a cup of coffee hashing out the ups and downs of life.  The smell of it brewing, the taste of a good cup.  Nectar of the gods for me.  We should all find simple pleasure is simple things.  One of those things for me is enjoying a great cup of coffee.

“It’s so large”
“It’s the world dear, did you think it’d be small?”
“smaller” 

― C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

We are small in a larger world.  It helps to remember this when our problems seem insurmountable, our sadness overwhelming.  Going out in nature, climbing up a hill and looking out over an endless vista, putting your feet in the sand and watching the crashing of wave after wave, gazing up to the clouds to see them moving.  These things remind us how small we are.  Even sitting in a traffic jam and noticing all the other people also sitting there, wondering where they’re going, what their day is like, where they all might be trying to get to.  We are so many times overburdened by our own thoughts, our own perspective, our own small lives.  The world is a vast place, enormous, and if we can keep some thought of that in mind, we can see how whatever is plaguing us at the moment is pliable, changeable, and in the grander scheme, small.

Be The Love You Want to See in The World

1935760_142466440801_985538_nI’m in a good mood.  And maybe because I’m in a good mood I want everyone to be in a good mood.  Happy speaks to happy, that kind of thing.

I know, I know, there’s a lot of shit going on in the world.  Yes, I said shit, I’m allowed to cuss once in a while.  Sometimes no other word works.  Seriously though, I’m not blind to all the stuff that’s not working.  I know there are things that need fixing.

But….

I think it’s easy to get caught up in what’s wrong.  It’s so easy in fact that we don’t see what’s going right.  What’s good.  The conflict and hate and the things we dislike seem to take our attention.  I’m not sure why that is.  We get critical of, and complain about a myriad of things – family members and politicians and news programs and celebrities and an endless litany of stuff.  The onslaught leaves us in a state of anxiety, anger, and helplessness.  Is there another way?

Sometimes, I think it’s just a matter of perspective.  Sometimes, all it takes is a moment, a little shift.  Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and open them again.  Look at the sky and the light and the faces of the people you love.  Put on a great album and hear the notes, the arrangement, the groove of the vocals.  Read a book and appreciate the beauty of the words.  Listen to the laughter of your children or grandchildren or your spouse.  Play with your pups or cats or rabbits or lizards and notice how much they love you.  Seek out positivity in your news, see what good is being done out in the world, there’s so much of it.  Notice kindnesses and smiles and the friendliness of your neighbors.  Watch sunsets and look with wonder at the amazing things we can build when we dream.  See the world with different eyes, a different heart, and it will be different.    It can be.  Even if we only manage to do it for a moment or a day.  String those moments to hours and those days to weeks. If we notice the kindnesses in the world, maybe we’ll act with more kindness.  Be the love you want to see in the world.

I’m in a good mood today and I want everyone to be in a good mood.

Extra-Ordinary

cropped-10606338_10152718999440802_7621001213431286246_n.jpgStomps foot down and says in a huff, I was meant for more than this, I was meant for great things.

I didn’t really throw a tantrum, though it sort of felt like one in my head, mental foot stomping and all.  Sometimes our better selves appear to the world, but not always so much inside our own minds.

I’ve always had this idea, as many of us have I imagine, that I was meant for great things.  That I was meant to do something extraordinary, something beyond the usual, past the normal, over and above the every day.  I can’t really remember a time I didn’t feel this way.  And the feeling of it, the haunting thoughts that come with that feeling, are sometimes sort of depressing.  After all, I haven’t really achieved anything big.  Big in the I’ve written the great american novel and it became hugely successful kind of way.  So to have this feeling with me that I haven’t yet done “the thing”, whatever that might look like, can be a downer. You know, not having fulfilled my greater potential and all.

I’ve lived, to this point, an ordinary life.

And yet…

I say that, and then the next thought is… yeah, but… wait.  Think of this life I have, this life I’ve lived and am living.  Think of the wonder of it.

Think.

It occurred to me the other day, driving down the freeway toward Chicago with the radio blasting my current favorite playlist, that I’ve always had this feeling.  This feeling of not achieving.  I’ve had it, and never named it, never spoken it aloud, or even mentioned it quietly to myself.  Never the less, it’s always been there, taunting me, haunting me, and pressuring me since forever.  The next thought that day was that I’ll be turning 50 on my next birthday.  The big 5-0.  Surprisingly I realized I wasn’t dreading it.  In fact, I’m sort of excited to be entering the next decade of my life.  I think good things are ahead.

But, back to the deep thoughts I was having that day in the car.  All of this was passing through my mind, my strange expectation for extraordinary, my approaching milestone of a birthday, what my life has been and is, and then it hit me, the most simple of ideas.  The purest of truths.  My life is amazing.  My life is phenomenal.

When I looked on my life, the ins and outs of it, the ups and downs, I realized something wonderful.  I already have an extraordinary life.  My every day is impeccable.  My place in the world is secure, my mark on the world happening every day.  If I honestly look at myself I realize I’m a good person.  I treat people well, I’m there for people when they need me, I look at things with a bend toward the positive instead of the negative, I love nature and my fellow humans despite all of their flaws and sometimes because of them, and I truly believe we can all rise up to be our better selves if given the opportunity and sometimes a little help.  I’m a good sister, a good daughter, a good friend, and a pretty good partner.  I tend to think the best of people, want the most for people, care deeply about what happens to my fellow creatures great and small, I recycle, I dance in the kitchen, and I feel a deep sense of wonder and awe about the world around me.  I also realized in that moment that my life has been a wonder so far.  The people I’ve known and know, the places I’ve been lucky enough to see, the experiences I’ve had in small ways and big.  It was incredible.  An enlightening realization.  I have and am everything I need.  My life is already extraordinary.

Wow.

Sometimes small moments, little thoughts, turn into huge discoveries.  One minute you’re just driving down the freeway listening to music on a sunny day and the next you are shifting how you feel about yourself and your world.

I’ve spent most of my life to this point thinking there was more, should be more, was supposed to be more.  That I was somehow not all I could be or should be or might be.  And that feeling, as I said before, haunted me.  It informed decisions, lent itself to indecision, and pushed me in all sorts of directions at once, while keeping me stuck where I was more often than not.  All of it inside, occasionally making me feel incomplete.

My realization, my revelation, is that I am all I was ever intended to be.  The rest, it’s unimportant. I know now that by being who I am, just me, I have changed people’s lives.  I had jobs where that was a literal thing, and yet somehow I always devalued it, until now.  I also know that I have had a decent impact on the people in my life, hopefully a good one.  Not just those I have known and still know, but on those I once knew, and don’t know anymore, and on those I will know.  I feel this certainty now as much as I felt the lack of it before.  I know this because I know how much the people in my life have had an effect on me.  I know this because it is.  And that is extraordinary.

My life has to this point been a series of wonder-filled moments.  Incredible moments.  I recognized some of them as they happened, more so when I looked back on them, but to now feel this sense of accomplishment for just being who I am, for just living the life I am, for just touching the lives of the people I have, it’s ground breaking to me.

This life, my life, is far from ordinary.  My life, every moment of it, has been and is extra-ordinary.  Light and love filled, even in it’s darkest moments.  To know this, to feel it now, to see it for what it actually has been and is…. it’s joyous.

A Drop Becomes a Ripple Becoming a Wave

Life is Beautiful

Life is Beautiful (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

I was commenting on a friend’s Facebook post today, trying to put across the message that we need a little more positivity in the world and how positivity catches hold, just like negativity, if we let it.

So, here’s the deal. (Yes, I’m on the soap box again.)  I don’t post negative stuff on Facebook, or this blog for that matter. It’s a conscious choice. I decided that what I put out into the world will try to be positive and beautiful and kind. Not to say I’m not aware of the myriad of things about this country, the world, the way things are politically and spiritually and environmentally, etc., etc., etc., and on, and on, and on, that could be changed. Or frankly, need to be changed. I know there are issues. I know there are things that are wrong. I know we all have varying ideas about what those things are. I’m aware. I just choose, being the person I am on the this planet, to only put out positive energy. At least, that’s what I strive to do.

Here’s why. There’s enough bullshit out there already. There’s enough opinion and doomsday predictions and nasty words and accusations and scare tactics and bullying behavior and finger-pointing and hurtfulness to fill pages and pages for years and years. Frankly, it doesn’t really solve anything, or do us any good. It’s divisive and has about as much impact as spitting in the wind.

I believe in what comes around goes around, do unto others, being kind to our fellow humans and the planet, what you put out you get back 10 fold, I believe in being the change I wish to see in the world. And the change I wish to see in the world is that we all become kinder, gentler, less judging, more helpful, less greedy, not as self-centered, nicer versions of ourselves. We can choose to look at all that’s wrong, pointing fingers and shouting doomsday predictions, or we can look at what’s right, and build on that. We can try for understanding and compassion instead of accusations and tearing people down. Ideas, even if they aren’t yours or mine, are all valid.   None of us have all the answers. Which brings me to the thought that a little less arrogance would also be in order. Thinking we have all the answers is the first step to not getting any worthwhile answers at all. And believing we know, without a doubt, what’s best for our neighbors, our towns, our country, or the world, is crazy thinking.  Just sayin’.  No one knows everything, and the moment we start to think we do, we’ve cut off our nose to spite our face. We can only try our best, try to evolve with our problems, and try to respect each other. We all, whoever we are, deserve at least some modicum of respect. As human beings with feelings if nothing else.

So, I know there’s a lot going on in the world.  I know some of it isn’t good.  I know some of it needs to be changed.  But, I also know that there’s beauty and light and love and kindness and compassion and gentleness and giving and loving and respecting and grace out there.  People are, generally, good.  Most of us want the same things in life.  Most of us want not only ourselves but our fellow humans to be well, to be happy, to be fulfilled and to have joy.  Most of us are good people doing the best we can to get by, to have a life, to make a better future for our children and grandchildren.  We are more alike than we aren’t.

Like I used to tell the kids I worked with, “use your powers (and there are many) for good, not evil”.  You have a choice.  I choose to try to emphasize the love and beauty and light and joy in the world.  Not to say my way is better than any other way, but it’s my way, and this is my blog.  This is the best way for me.  It helps to remind me, every day, that there are good people out there and good things happening.  It helps me remember that we are more the same than different and that there’s so much creativity and goodness in the world.  If I seek out the positive, I find it.

I think of it like this… a drop of light creates a ripple of kindness, which leads to waves of joy and compassion and understanding that flow out well beyond where that one drop started.  Just think what would happen if we all got together and tried compassion and understanding and joy for change.  Think of what could happen.  Think of the huge wonderful waves that shared energy would create.  Think of how beautiful that would be.