We wish for the good old days when times were simple. Snapping green beans on the front porch or eating homemade ice cream. What I desire the most is the idle time to spend daydreaming.
I feel bad about the struggles on the other side of the world, but I’m limited to what I can do. I can listen to Beatles music. Maybe say a few lines of Rumi. It’s not by any means stopping the skirmishes of fighting tribes. I don’t wish for the old days, not really. They had their issues. Days were devoted to food preparation and lives cut short by disease. What I want is simplicity—living with this moment—making the most of what I have now. I don’t want to be always thinking about the fun of tomorrow or worrying about the issues that are not in my control.
This We Have Now
This we have now is not imagination.
This is not grief or joy.
Not a judging state, or an elation, or sadness.
Those come and go. This is the presence that doesn’t.
From Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks
The next time you’re watching the news and paying your bills while trying to phone your mom and pet your cat, stop. Do one thing. Only one. Choose your activity wisely and give it your full attention. Save your sanity and realize your limitations. It’s okay if you can’t fix everything. It’s okay if you can’t save the world. We can put on our tie dyed shirts and chant OM.
You start dying slowly, but it doesn’t need to be this way. Choices. Those are the power buttons. We can wear the bright color, do the fun vacation, eat the ice cream, go dancing, see an art exhibit. Be alive. Everyday.
Quit – over thinking. Quit – trying to make it work. Quit – wishing, thinking, pushing, willing, trying so hard, all of those things that make you seem like a fish flopping on the shoreline, out of his comfort zone, out of his life zone. That’s not you. We all do this. We act like we’re afraid. We act like that poor fish, gasping for air. We are not desperate. We might be afraid, but we aren’t desperate.
I have so many questions sometimes when I try new things. I start with, I’m ready. I’m excited. I crouch down like the jumper at a sporting event and I’m ready to take off, but then the questions start. How much pressure do I need to push-off? Do I land on one foot or both? Do I dig in with my toes? You get the idea. So many questions that I start doubting if I can do it or if any of it can happen. Can I really make it work? Am I just daydreaming? We all go through this struggle. We worry. We fight the fear, then we fight the desire by telling ourselves, ‘Well, I don’t want it anyway.’ We try to shut the emotions down because they can be so raw. The open heart can feel so exposed.
I was sitting down with a guy I see regularly and without telling him anything he starts saying things such as, you know you can’t be happy unless you’re with someone who meets your needs. You have to have someone that lets you have room. In essence, it was all the things I’ve been mulling over in my head. Was he reading my mind? Sometimes I wonder. Is the world around me really just a hologram of my own making as the new-agers say? Matrix overload. Tilt. Tilt. Beep. Beep.
I’m afraid. I’m in the open, but I know I’m not alone here. I just have to wait. I did that thing I do so often, I got here early. I got over excited. How did I say that before? You can read that post here: Overeager.
Here are a few items I ran into in the process of writing this blog. I love how when you start pulling strings, the blanket starts coming towards you.
Over the last few years I’ve discarded obligations and reorganized my life. A lot of these things happen because of age. It’s natural. Just like a snake sheds his skin or a tree loses its leaves, people change their habits. It doesn’t mean we’re fickle. We grow. We change. If I can’t do something anymore, I know that it’s time to let someone else do it. Mostly though, I’ve made a conscious decision to change my focus in this part of my life. In the past, I’ve been helpful. I’ve been nice. And somewhere deep inside of me it seems as if I’ve tried to make up for some unknown mistake or atrocity, which I can’t remember committing from my past. It’s as if I’m afraid of being selfish even. Whatever it is, real or imagined, it doesn’t matter, I’m moving on. Nice is too flimsy.
Are you feeling stuck? If you’ve found yourself in the middle of the road, and feel you’re not going anywhere, maybe it’s time to reevaluate what you wanted when you started walking. It’s possible you started strong, then lost your focus. Stop whatever you are doing and ask yourself, am I doing this because I want to do it? Or because I feel an obligation? If you want to do it, then keep on going. If you feel you shoulddo it, it might be time to let someone else take over. Worthy causes need someone who can give to them passionately. That’s hard to do when you are not enjoying yourself.
What makes your heart sing? You’re going to make mistakes. You will look silly. People may even wonder if you’ve lost your mind, but that’s alright. You’re about to have some fun. I’m asking myself these same questions now.
For all of you who have matured and feel comfortable in your life…don’t get too comfy. Life is full of surprises and you never know what’s around the bend. If you want to keep your mind and heart healthy you need to think young. It could time for you to learn a new hobby or take up a new challenge. We want to stay unstuck throughout our lives. Stay nimble.
I want to start with some simple ground rules that apply to all of us;
It’s time to get quiet and clear your head.
Get an idea. Whatever brings you delight.
Do what you value. If your heart isn’t in the work, you will have difficulty completing the task.
Take one step towards that idea.
Take the next step.
At first don’t ask anyone’s opinion.
If anyone wishes to give you advice tell them you will consider what they said and
Just keep walking
If no one supports you, support yourself
Express yourself in some way, whether it’s with a sticker on your car or the shoes you wear.
Read inspirational stories. They come in many forms; books, magazines and blogs. Feed yourself inspiration.
If you’re feeling stuck, do one thing differently.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
There’s construction going on across the street. It sounds a little like the hitting of a heavy bell. It’s just a man hitting metal with a large hammer, but I hear the bell. Bam. Bam. Bam. That type of guest is the easier type to handle. The gentle swishing of traffic that moves like waves against the shore.
Compared to the week before of irritations and unpreventable arguments of everyday life, this is good. But I think Rumi may be talking about accepting and befriending even the irritations and bullies of the everyday, not just the sandy beaches of my barricaded relaxation time. Letting even the bad flow through, as well as the good. Yeah, I lock myself in. I close the door as much as I possibly can, because even the saints must get rid of rodents and bad fruit. Weekends are my cleaning moments. My coming to terms with this crazy world space. It’s me time.
Rumi is good thinking poetry. Let me know what you think in the comments. Here are some of my current interests.
#Beinggrateful – just that. Finding one thing to be thankful for. I’m so glad it’s not raining or whatever…you name it. Post it on twitter today. #Beinggrateful
Am I a failure at relationships because I can’t give someone what they want? Or, maybe they need to find what they are needing somewhere else.
Does it make me incapable of being intimate if my need for aloneness is huge? Taking time for myself is essential to who I am. Am I the other’s property? A doll to dress up and approve? Do I need to ask permission to wear blue or take a nap? Who do I listen to, myself or to other people? Is their need (even if they are a lover) more important than my own?
I need space, but that doesn’t make me cold. I love reading, but movies are wonderful also. I love blue and red and green and purple and black. Taste the rainbow. I cannot live in one man’s pastel world. I cannot be there for his every need.
I deal with these feelings of anger and sadness because I’ve felt like a failure at times. Old issues seem to resurface. I’ve heard the accusations, You weren’t there for me. You’re cold and emotionless. But I’m not.
If I take my love back why are you complaining? It was mine to give in the first place. You don’t own me.
You have to understand the rules before you can break the rules. At least that’s what I’ve been taught. One easy to understand rule is, people need oxygen. We can’t live without it. It makes us uncomfortable and we start to panic. We will fight against anything that keeps us from breathing. There’s no nice and compliant if someone is choking you. You will kick, claw, poke and jab.
I once thought it was important to be tough. Tough meant defying the rules. Defying what I needed. Things that were natural came too easily and where’s the challenge in that? Climb Mt Everest and prove yourself. Prove that you can make it to the top and still breathe. Scoff. It’s important to know the rule of oxygen. Humans just can’t live at 35,000 feet above sea level. There’s barely any oxygen. And it’s freakin’ cold.
By the same measurement, I wouldn’t expect to feed grass to a dog and expect him to leave the T-bone steak on the kitchen table. It’s natural and expected for the dog to eat the steak. So I realize I have to take a fresh look at being tough and strong. It’s not defying my need for oxygen.
…Know thy species…The best way to learn about a species is to study it in the wild, living in its natural habitat. This includes everything from what the species eats to how it moves, from common predators to mating behavior-everything…..This approach works for humans too…..To understand human health we have to study our own species, the human animal. The Paleo Manifesto-John Durant
Most of my life I’ve operated by existence. My thoughts were of what I needed to survive. And even then I questioned it. I scoffed at people who were high maintenance and was cocky that I wasn’t one of those women. I didn’t require a spa day or an entire room for closeting my shoes. I could travel with just one suitcase. I could get by on less. Now I ask why that was so important. My badge of honor looks rusty now. The truth has nothing to do with high maintenance or low maintenance. If I were an African Violet, I’d need x number of hours of sunlight and y amount of rain. It’s just the facts. Maybe I’ll still scoff at the women who can’t live without their mani-pedi, but I may also reconsider and enjoy one myself.
I went for many years without health insurance. With my last job, I had insurance and the premiums came out of my check. My new employers pay for my insurance themselves and I am thankful to have it. In my years without coverage, I would hesitate, going in to see the doctor only when I had stuff oozing out of my orifices. I didn’t want to spend the money on getting my checkups or if I was only a little sick. Somewhere in the pit of my belly I felt poor. Broken. Without. Abandoned.
It’s a strange thought. I’d feel guilty about going in even if I had a severe sinus infection. Guilty and so pitiful for allowing myself to be so weak. How dare I allow myself to become sick.
And now I have insurance. Just getting my needs met makes me feel loved, even if it is me loving myself. It’s important for me to take care of my needs. Just as in society we take care of each other, we can show the same love to ourselves. It feels good. I feel good. Whole. Relaxed.It makes me smile.
I’m not the lost orphan, the broken, dirt-smeared, little ragamuffin, standing on the street corner, begging for pennies. I am the whole person. The healthy one who can stand up tall and breathe in the clean air of life. I am so thankful for this one simple thing. Say what you will about the Democrats and Obama, I have my health care because my employers are considerate, but not all people can afford it. I haven’t always had it myself. If it were up to some folks I know, none of us would. We would all have to tough it out and make do with whatever we had. I know some stingy pricks that have loads of money but don’t let a dime be wasted on going to the doctor unnecessarily. Who are they to decide for me if its unnecessary? If I feel it is necessary, I don’t need an overlord to decide for me. I dont ever want to be in that situation again where I allow anyone else to decide life’s decisions for me. I like my own freedom, thank you very much.
Don’t forget to read the previous post: But I Don’t Want to be a Socialist
In my family, growing up wasn’t about self empowerment. We survived, we made do, and we were grateful for what we had. Any self empowerment wasn’t recognized. It didn’t have anything to do with the mindset of raising children in the culture of my family and town. It wasn’t practical. Mind your parents and mind your teachers. That was the mindset of my generation.
Why do I bring this up? Because this week I felt like this,
and all of me felt like praying to some big person in the sky. But even when I do, I’m still the one with the screwdriver in my hand trying to fix whatever is broken.
When my car won’t run or my washer is broken, I feel helpless. We had snow and ice this last week so my car didn’t budge from its parking space and the battery was dead. Normally I face things logically. Easy fix. But for some strange reason when I feel trapped, I panic. I get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I want to hide. I want to run. I want to crawl back under the covers and never come out. Helpless.
So what causes this shift in mindset and what do I need to do about it? I took the rational practical approach and got my car taken care of. I called the repair place to make an appointment for the washing machine to be fixed next week. What else is there to do? I took the practical approach because there is no magic potion or special words to chant. There was AAA who came to jump the battery and Collins Repair for the washer.
I also went to work and behaved like a rational person, pretending that I wasn’t raised from birth to be helpless. Even though I feel like a newborn babe, I’m not helpless.
Years ago I read the book, Simplify Your Life by Elaine St James. I loved that book. It was my manual. But time passes and life changes. I realized last night that clutter has once again become an issue for me. I have become a pack rat.
How many shampoos does one girl need? It’s possible to go into any woman’s bathroom and find at least 5 bottles of shampoo in various stages of use. If it’s something you can replace, toss it, give it away, or don’t buy it. If you don’t have to own it to enjoy it, borrow it. I went through my fingernail polishes and at least 5 of the bottles were half empty and dried out. Why did I keep them? The color was pretty. Did I use it? No, but the color was pretty.
Life should flow. Never stagnant. Out with the old and in with the new. Use it and be done with it. There’s more after that. Part of the reason I keep have used bottles of nail polish is a completely irrational fear of not having enough. It’s irrational. It’s subconscious. I know in my right mind that I can stop by the store at any time I need to and pick up a red or a pink nail polish. If I think about it with my rational self I know better, but irrational fears, like arachnophobia, work at such a base level. It never gets to my brain for sorting. I cling to that half empty, dried out bottle. I look at it a couple of times and place it back in storage with all of my nail utensils for another day.
Now that I’ve made my fear obvious, I think I can deal with it. I don’t follow all the woo-woo beliefs of the think and grow rich crowd, but I get the point. For me this fear of poverty has roots in my lack of confidence and self empowerment.
How does it work for me?I joined the subscribe and save program for my toiletries through Amazon. Since I know I have a new bottle of shampoo coming in 2 months or so, I don’t worry about running out. It’s not that I’m wasteful with it, but I don’t have to hoard it either. I use the current bottle and know that next one will be available when I need it. Strange as it sounds, it releases that knot of worry.
When I was married, we lived in a house in Kansas with this beautiful Sunset Orange Maple tree. Every Autumn it turned a bright reddish-orange. It seemed to glow. Over the years I’ve thought about that tree and how beautiful it was. And it was now gone. I don’t live there anymore. Driving home from work today, I realized that my whole block and neighborhood complex is glowing with orange and red. Not Maple trees, but gorgeous the Eastern Redbuds, blazing with color in the Autumn. No more worries about not enough. There is plenty.
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