Back In Love With Life

his quest

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and science.
He to whom the emotion is a stranger,
who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe,
is as good as dead —his eyes are closed.
To know what is impenetrable to us really exists,
manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty,
which our dull faculties can comprehend
only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge,
this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.
Albert Einstein

the_MYSTERIES_OF_LIFE copy

Mystery appears new again to me. My list of future possibilities grows ever larger much like how a very small child perceives life. I have rediscovered awe, wonderment and a sense of miracles. Through a slow awakening I have fallen back in love with life much like when I was very young, but better and now seemingly more possible.

For a long time my adult life consisted of a continually shorter and shorter list of potential and promise. In reality that was only my perception, not what was really truth. And there in lies the key and one of my more profound realizations about being alive: my quality of living has mostly to do with my perceptions about it. Simple, but magnificent in its magnitude. I am grateful for the weighty insight eluded me until I was ready for it.

What is given to you is what is needed;
what you want, requires giving up what you don’t need.
George Alexiou

A State of Beingness

infinity-signAcceptance of how much influence I actually have over the quality of my life is frightening. Grasping that I, more than any other factor, am what shapes the quality of my existence takes a bit of courage. When I used to blame and point fingers at people and circumstances for my lack of contentment and happiness, I felt confidently miserable. There is no courageousness in that, nor anything else that lends itself toward a good life.

That’s the thing about unhappiness. I realize in my past feeling certain why I was unhappy became the little island in the big scary ocean I hung on to. I felt dejected, but certain of why and that was my answer for things. Life sucked because it sucked. That’s pretty silly when I actually type the words.

Time and effort brought the lesson that in total, I usually cannot put a finger on exactly why I am feeling good; why happiness has invaded the space gloom used to occupy. Of course I can identify some of the causes, but far from all of it. What matters is that I live fully in my contented times and not try to mentally research the source. I need to “just be” as the phrase goes.

The same is true of my down times. Trying to sort out all the reasons “why” is impossible and makes the murkiness last longer. It is far better to simply bear well the gloomy moments and let them pass. Analyzing such times ALWAYS makes them last longer.

Do not waste the precious moments of this, your present reality, seeking to unveil all of life’s secrets. Those secrets are a secret for a reason. Use your NOW moment for the Highest Purpose- the creation and the expression of WHO YOU REALLY ARE. Decide who you are- who you want to be-and then do everything in your power to be that.

It is not nearly so important how well a message is received as how well it is sent. You cannot take responsibility for how well another accepts your truth; you can only ensure how well it is communicated. And by how well, I don’t mean merely how clearly; I mean how lovingly, how compassionately, how sensitively, how courageously, and how completely.

If you think your life is about DOINGNESS, you do not understand what you are about. Your soul doesn’t care what you do for a living-and when your life is over, neither will you. Your soul cares only about what you’re BEING while you’re doing whatever you’re doing.  Neal Donald Walsh

And so I enter into my day, self-reminded of how I to use well the gift of the next fourteen hours or so of consciousness. I will do my best to not waste too much applying logic and analysis to life. Instead, with gratefulness I will endeavor to embrace the time being as truly “myself” as I possibly can.

The reason people find it so hard to be happy
is that they always see the past better than it was,
the present worse than it is,
and the future less resolved than it will be.
Marcel Pagnol

Right Here, Right Now

Once upon a time there was a man who spent his life in a hurry. He was always headed toward something or getting away from something else, but never seemed to arrive anywhere.

He would drop things because he’d bump into stuff or accidentally let his hand brush against what he was walking by just enough to dislodge what was in his hand. He was not drunk, didn’t have balance issues nor was particularly uncoordinated. He was just never mentally precise about where his body was.

The man often thought about where he should be and who he should be with. He yearned for love, yet had walked through being loved many times.  His habit was to always run past love before he actually realized how deeply he cared about someone and they about him. Only when the present became the past could he see much of anything with clarity.

There were small scars and scruffs on his hands and legs from moving in haste. Working with his hands he’d often get ahead of himself and end up with a small wound to show for the haste. His legs were often bruised in small places. When he noticed one usually he had no idea what he did to get the bruise.

Was he running toward what was in his mind or running away from something lodged there? Could it be he was doing both at the same time? Yes, I think. Stretched between the past and the future there was so little of him actually in the present.

Eckhart Tolle wrote exactly what going on with the man,  You cannot be both unhappy and fully present in the Now. Why does the mind habitually deny or resist the Now? Because it cannot function and remain in control without time, which is past and future, so it perceives the timeless Now as threatening.

The year, the day, or the time,
It is not important,
Yesterday is gone,
Tomorrow does not yet exist.
Only now do you have the chance
To be whoever you are.
Only now can you live
With the passion of spirit
And the spark of inspiration.
This is where everything ends,
And where everything begins,
Right here, right now
In the flow of what is.
This is all that you have.
Hold on, but let go.
Connect, but be separate.
There is pain in growth,
But there is also wisdom.
To know is to know not.
Every movement, every transition is a risk,
It is an opportunity to transform.
It does not matter what it all means,
It is a play that exists in eternity.
From “The Play” by Conny Jasper

The man written here about is mostly me as I used to be. While far from perfect and constantly bouncing from ‘Now” into the past and the future, I do spend a lot of time in the present than ever before. And it is those moments when I am happiest, enjoy life most and feel gratefulness the deepest.

The past gives you an identity
and the future holds the promise of salvation,
of fulfillment in whatever form.
Both are illusions.
Eckhart Tolle

A Thank You Left Unexpressed

Today my leave-behind here is short and simple; a short story of unexpressed gratitude from yesterday about 5:25pm.

Late afternoon rolled around with an appointment for my every five-week haircut. Driving in the peak of late day drive-time traffic, my departure from work was later than it should have been.

As I drove my mind was a flurry of activity that included discussing an issue on a long phone call with a co-worker, concern about getting to my appointment late, reminding myself to stop at the pharmacy on my way home and then getting caught in traffic where two lanes are narrowed into one. It is there the subject of this story lies.

1) It is a personal pet-peeve about people who can clearly see the signs that a lane is closed, but chose to go down the closed lane as far as possible before merging (called a “zipper merge” I read somewhere). Of course, doing that slows down the lane that is open where everyone else has orderly lined up soon after seeing the signage.

  • Admission: In my haste yesterday I was one of those people. In my efforts to get to my destination I disregarded what I should have done to serve my own selfish need. Of course, it’s a little thing, but one I wish to apologize for to those who “followed the unwritten merge rule” . It’s fascinating to me what a human being can justify when they feel cornered; even me.

2) Even though I ‘cheated’ by going down the closed lane as far as I could, there was someone kind enough to let me in. That is one of the wonderful things about living where I do; people are genuinely good and thoughtful. What I regret is pulling into the space the person gave me, but never acknowledging them. Another peeve is letting someone in and not getting some sort of customary signal of thanks. Being late and caught up in my own “stuff” I disregarded expressing gratitude for a small kindness. So lost was I at that moment I could not tell you if the driver was a man or woman, much less what type of car they were driving.

  • My small retribution for a thank you left unexpressed: To that nameless, faceless person who let me merge in traffic yesterday, this morning I say “thank you” and apologize I did not express my gratitude at the very moment of your kindness.

Today I will be a little more aware of each kindness shown me and a bit more expressive of my gratitude for each one. For the small lesson of yesterday I am grateful and even more so for my awareness to notice it.

Happiness cannot be traveled to,
owned, earned, worn or consumed.
Happiness is the spiritual experience
of living every minute
with love, grace, and gratitude.
Denis Waitley

A Gift Above All Others

The trouble is, you think you have time.
Buddha

I ran across that Buddhism quote and it stopped me completely still in though for a few moments. Silently, the thought rang inside “I always thought I had plenty of time… lots and lots of it”. That’s not intended to be a morbid comment in any way. My doctor says I am healthy and as far as I can now there are many years of life yet ahead of me. Nor do I think I have wasted my time in a regretful way, although that thought has to be shooed away once in a while.

Coming to the realization of how many years are behind me and the smaller number in front causes today, this moment, to be very valuable. Time alive is a gift above all others on this Earth. I am grateful every minute of every day I have had and will live.

When younger I did not listen to those older with life experiences I could have learned from. I don’t suspect someone a lot youngerto see that as anything except a tired comment bantered around all the time.  Today or one day, it becomes truth to all of us.

Here’s the skinny: I wish I had listened to more of the advice of my elders when I was younger. Then I would not have had their words ring so loudly true later when life taught they spoke the truth.

So I step up on my soapbox state to three simple things:

1. Time is precious.
2. Those you love are your true riches: nothing else matters much.
3. Show as much kindness and understanding as you possibly can to those you love.
4. We are never gentle and tender enough to those we care about.
5. Forgive even when others won’t.

From experience I know those things can change your world. They did mine. I am very grateful.

Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases
and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.
Wayne Dyer

Photo: Anamaya Yoga Resort, Montezuma, Costa Rica http://www.anamayaresort.com/

Through the Eyes of a Child

For children every thing is new. If you watch a toddler move through a room, their eyes are huge as they take it all in. They have no expectation – just a wonderment and joy that comes from exploring their universe.

As we get older, most of us lose that joy and wonderment. We move into autopilot, and become focused on the future and the past – the present is something to move through. It’s a gateway toward reaching goals.

When we lose our wonderment for the present, we begin to say things like, “I will be happy when…” or “I will be satisfied when…” Instead of “I am happy.” “I am satisfied.”

Happiness comes from seeing the world as it exists now; finding happiness in the moment, in the present. It’s a conscious act of de-programming our autopilot and becoming truly aware of where we are in space and time, to truly connect with our inner joy and gratitude.

Once way to do this is spend an hour in nature walking. With every step feel the muscles in your legs move to propel you forward. Embrace the ground underneath supporting you. Feel the sun warming you, the wind caressing your body. Become the bird that flutters past or the ant that scurries along the trail. As you open yourself up and become aware of your surroundings, taking in all the small details, you will find your body slows down. Calmness will emerge, as will a sense of joy and wonderment. Even if only for a few moments, you will once again see with the eyes of a child. Paige Oxlaj 

Being in a different place wakes me up to my surroundings.  Out of my home routine while visiting my son in Colorado I am much more aware of the mountains, the trees, even the wind.  I am grateful for this heightened awareness and know arriving home I will be a little more appreciative of my day to day environment.  Life is good.

Through the eyes of a child
the world is full of wonder.
Through the eyes of a child
it’s sunshine, rain or thunder.
Through the eyes of a child
life’s just an endless game.
Through the eyes of a child
there’s only adults to blame.
Through the eyes of a child
it’s schooldays and fun days.
Through the eyes of a child
it’s fascinating always.
Through the eyes of a child
it’s beach, buckets and sand.
Through the eyes of a child
life’s so easy to understand.
Now what about us – you and me?
Where’s our eyes of a child?
From a post by “genegem”

Cultivating Awe

A jaw-dropping moment really can make time appear to stand still – or at least slow down, new research suggests. Regular “awesome” experiences may also improve our mental health and make us nicer people, claim psychologists. 

Awe is the emotion felt when encountering something so vast and overwhelming it alters one’s mental perspective. Examples might include experiencing a breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon, taking in the ethereal beauty of the Northern Lights, or becoming lost in a dazzling display of stars on a clear, dark night.

The new research found that by fixing the mind to the present moment, awe seems to slow down perceived time. Studies on groups of volunteers showed that experiencing awe made people feel they had more time to spare. This in turn led them to be more patient, less materialistic, and more willing to give up time to help others.

Writing in the journal Psychological Science, the scientists led by Melanie Rudd, from Stanford University in California, concluded: “People increasingly report feeling time-starved, which exacts a toll on health and well-being.”

Drawing on research showing that being in the present moment elongates time perception, we predicted and found that experiencing awe, relative to other states, caused people to perceive they have more time available and lessened impatience.”

“Furthermore, by altering time perception, feeling awe led participants to more strongly desire to spend time helping others and partake in experiential goods over material ones. “A small dose of awe even gave participants a momentary boost in life satisfaction. Thus, these results also have implications for how people spend their time, and underscore the importance and promise of cultivating awe in everyday life.”

Previous studies have linked “lack of time” feelings with an increased risk of high blood pressure as well as headaches, stomach pains and poor sleep quality. Time pressure is also linked to eating unhealthy fast-food diet, failing to engage in leisure experiences, and depression.

The researches added: “Our studies… demonstrated that awe can be elicited by a walk down memory lane, brief story, or even a 60-second commercial. “Therefore, awe-eliciting experiences might offer one effective solution to the feelings of time-starvation that plague so many people in modern life.”  From The Telegraph Birmingham, England

Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion.
What you perceive as precious is not time
but the one point that is out of time: the Now.
That is precious indeed.
The more you are focused on time
—past and future—
the more you miss the Now,
the most precious thing there is.
Eckhart Tolle

Down to the Core of My Being

Once in a great while I meet someone, see a movie, witness a performance or read a book or poem that moves me down to the core of my being. In such rare moments I am cognizant of being washed over with intense awareness and feeling, while not fully perceiving what it is I am sensing. And that’s OK. In such moments my joy is in just experiencing the gift without questioning or wondering. It is enough just knowing what I am experiencing is real. 

Being grateful for what is happening further amplifies the moment and what follows it. These are the times when I am living open to the moment and completely aware within it. Today that feeling is best described in the six words of wisdom from a wise man from the past whose wisdom I revere.

What you seek is seeking you.
Rumi

Stettling A Person’s Nerves

Up early to go over a presentation for work and while sitting here wishing sleep could have lasted longer I was stuck by a moment of gratitude for my job.  So easily how one makes a living can be taken for granted, especially when it’s enjoyable (well most days, for the most part).  I work for a good, family owned company and with a local staff I enjoy.  We’re an eccentric and electic group of talented people who accomplish what many could not. Lots of folks are not so lucky.  Either they don’t like what they do, the company the work for, the people they work with or worse yet, don’t have a job. 

I am blessed and expressing thankfulness is important, especially just a few hours before I stand before the board of directors to present the results  for the year so far.  Being grateful goes a long way in settling a person’s nerves!

There are no menial jobs, only menial attitudes. 
William J. Bennett

Upright and Out in the World

It feels as if the new week has come at least a day too early for me this week. However, Monday has arrived whether I am ready for it or not. The clock is ticking away the time so it’s best if I embrace and enjoy it! Here are two thoughts I have picked to head into my day with.

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 Kubler-Ross

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. 
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. 
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day. 
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. 
People, more than things, have to be restored,
renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand,
you will find one at the end of each of your arms. 
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands,
one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.
Sam Levenson 

My preference is to still be in bed, but that’s a tad of  laziness within talking to me. Life is boring and predictable while sleeping with existence only present in my imagination. Nothing really happens then. Living goes on when I am upright and out in the world. So here I go. I’m grateful for the optimism and inspiration I find in the two thoughts above that motivate me to pick myself up and move on into my day even if at first I don’t want to. It is far from rare to find some of the best of life in something I hesitated to embrace or at first did not want to do.

Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.
Spanish Proverb