Lately, I have had several conversations with friends who are in despair. The reason for their despair varies: broken hearts due to unrequited love (one of the worst feelings in the entire world!), the death of family members, sick family members, empty nests, and hardships at work. Some of the more altruistic are in pain for what is going on politically and how it affects others. And I am not talking in general, these are conversations that I have had in the last 30 days with people I love and admire.
Through my own ups and downs (divorce, cancer, my awesome relationship with my now-recovered-alcoholic husband), I have found ways to understand my own feelings and emotions, and take a step away (sometimes many, many steps away) to find another point of view. My Qigong Master says we create our own reality. That was a hard one to bite. But I think I am actually getting it. We are what we think, and we can choose our own perceptions. We just need to be open to the possibilities.
By that I don’t want to be callus and suggest that people who suffer are doing so out of choice. Pain, fear, sadness, grief . . . they are all part of our human condition. What I want to offer is a respite, to suggest that even in the worst of moments, there is the potential for growth. With perseverance I have been determined to see the good. Easier said than done, you must be thinking. Yes, I agree. It’s a daily practice; it’s a moment-to-moment practice.
Opting to see the good is not like shopping in the supermarket, but it can happen while shopping in the supermarket. I need to pay attention to what is going on inside me, and around me, because seeing the good is about understanding what is my daily default setting and trying to be mindful about the way I think about any particular situation.
I have learned that if I approach every moment with playfulness I get more out of it. Even a broken heart can laugh a bit about itself. We are all too serious too often. Yes, the world seems to be upside down with so many shootings, earthquakes, hurricanes, political upheavals, and bullying across nations, within nations. So we can sit and worry like mad, or we can choose to look at it all from another point of view. There is always another point of view.
In this same world of so much devastation there is also love, compassion, friendship, laughter, hugs, and so many caring people working hard at making a better world one day at time. It is yin and yang. The bad and the good are always entangled in the same rope. What are you going to focus on today?
When three months ago Hurricane Maria was hitting the Caribbean, I was trying to find footage on the Internet about what was happening on the islands…I could not be with my part of the family there, but I was trying to stay connected with their reality so I could feel closer to them. I found a few YouTube videos showing the winds, so loud and scary, and some of the videos showed things flying around in parts of Puerto Rico, and other islands. But then I also found a NASA view of the Hurricane from a satellite. This video showed another point of view of the same reality: quiet, serene, even beautiful. You could see two sides of nature at its best, beautiful and peaceful but also scary and devastating, depending on which one you clicked.
There are always many sides to a story, many different ways to perceive our reality. In the middle of the storm, it is a good idea to breathe deep and to separate oneself from the raging winds, find some peace, and then (like Dori, the fish–see my previous post) keep swimming. I can say that I am a pretty content human being who takes good care of herself, but it was not always like that. I had to break with my automatic unconscious beliefs, and give myself choices by paying attention. It takes effort, a lot of discipline, and constant awareness. The more I have been able to do that, the better my story has become.