Funny enough I was looking at my calendar this week and saw that we have a Friday the 13th lined up with the 14th this Saturday for Valentines day. This made me smile. For many one day is a curse and the other is quite lucky. But wait … which one am I referring too? Sometimes we jump and naturally make assumptions; thinking our way is right and others views are stupid or wrong.
Although life has so many ups and downs I used to spend so much of my time getting ready, planning, imagining the day ahead and what would happen. Always going about my work, chores and family events as if there was tons of time later to do other things. Never feeling quite satisfied and focused on the next thing. Yet when the present day came I was already busy and off to the future thoughts again. Or even worse I had done so much expecting that when it happened sometimes my reaction could be so overblown and dramatic; more from the build up of the expected disappointment than the real moment.
Then something even stranger happened when I turned 40. Going about my day and I found myself doing things and really taking the time to listen, make eye contact, observe, be right there in the moment – even when I was taking care of my chores. I had read a book called “Hand Wash Cold” by Karen Maezen Miller that really got me thinking – why not do the dishes with the intension of being right there. The title refers to the fact that we don’t treat ourselves like our clothes i.e. delicate cycle with care. Instead we often toss ourselves into the big load, on hot and hard spin cycles. Lets get that dirt out! Always pulling, pushing and squeezing.
I started to enjoy and appreciate the tiny moments around me I noticed something. Someone asked me how I was doing and I stopped and thought about it. “I’m fine” I said. Wait what? It wasn’t great and it wasn’t bad. My first reaction was there must be something wrong with this feeling. There wasn’t some funny story or something to fix or solve. I was really just “ok”. Shouldn’t I be more than that? Aren’t we all looking in some way to find peace, less stress and happiness? Is that always just the light at the end of the tunnel – off in the distance? But what would this feel like if it were right here? Would I know it if I saw it?
For years I imagined what it would be to be a stress-free, peaceful and happy person. I lived with an image of those I admired and thought that will be me… someday. When people are asked to think about someone they admire who is peaceful and loving the person most often thought about is the Dalai Lama. Calm, always happy and blissful. Nothing bothers him… right? So “Tomorrow” I thought. I spent my present days trying to eliminate sadness, fear and anger and would sit still to meditate but nope. Instead I would judge myself, blame, or give up. Might as well stop… there is always tomorrow. My sister would call me out on it and say “See you are angry – what kind of yogi are you? Yogis aren’t angry” I struggled with the answer for a long time. Fact is the more I tried to be someone else the more I failed. Then with the help of a wonderful yoga and meditation teacher he taught me to stop trying. I had to stop resisting and learn to be ok with who I am right now – faults and all. I wasn’t going to stop being angry; just like the Dalai Lama who has talked about his anger, regret and fear. We are all imperfect human beings. Instead my practice helped me identify the feelings there, recognize them and pause more. It was this action that helped me reduce the stress and pain of regret.
So here we come at the end of this week to a back to back day of what could be completely up, down, both or maybe neither. No doubt though that both days will spark feelings and emotions. Some will avoid and others will embrace it. On Valentines Day there will be pictures of flowers, chocolate and hearts shared on all social media for sure. Some will push it away, waiting for it to just pass. Others will rebel with comments about how this is just a marketing day and try to push away the feelings. There are also those who won’t have a special someone to share the moment with at all and they may be down or depressed. I’m not judging or saying one is better than the other though. The avoidance of the real moment or experience is what I’m writing about – whether happy or sad it is bound to be there; even as we reach for the phone to share our moments, try to capture it, save it, instead of being in it while it is happening.
No matter our own personal and unique feelings to either days though, what if we each treated ourselves like we needed the gentle cycle in life? Is that not the luckiest act of love? Sure there are times for the bulk cycle but wouldn’t we last longer and be just as clean if we went about it in a slower, softer way? It took me a long time to realize this and maybe that just comes with the experiences we each face. Things I used to do in the past I could bounce back from so fast – even if it was bad for me. That changed. Now I see that my actions take longer to recover from – especially if I hurt myself. More importantly I stopped putting off to tomorrow…
…Love and Live for today.
“I never expect a perfect work from an imperfect man” Alexander Hamilton
“Without Present there is no basis of past and future” Dalai Lama