Monday, October 29, 2012

What if this is all there is?

What if you never meet your soulmate, find your life’s calling, lose the extra weight, and pay off the bills? What if this is all there is?

Don’t get me wrong; I believe in dreams. Emerson got it right when he wrote, “Hitch your wagon to a star.” But if our “someday” dreams overshadow our “this day” life, the result is always sad: we miss out on the moments that matter, and they all matter. 

Of course it makes sense that we would consider happiness as some future event. From the time we’re young we’re encouraged to put it off—to get through school first, find a good job, meet somebody who will love us, have children, work hard, retire, and then, maybe, we’ll realize that we’ve somehow earned our way to happiness. 
Dad, it all sounds too difficult!
It’s a funny thing—this putting off happiness. It’s like putting off exercise; suddenly we have a paunch and want to take a lot of naps. Without becoming intimately familiar with happiness now—learning how it feels in our body and in our mind and in our heart—can we really expect that, poof, it will just show up for us someday (I could tell you stories of hospice patients who have shared with me about how they “missed it”“it” being their actual life—in their imperfect relationships, in their imperfect bodies, in this imperfect world). 

And this futuristic mindset that we have regarding happiness not only diminishes our ability to feel happiness; it also shrink-wraps the belief that we’re somehow not okay right now (the future us that we imagine probably wouldn’t even want to hang out with the likes of who we walk around as today). 

Something interesting happens when we get this—I mean REALLY get it, not just get it theoretically. We start living. Right here. Right now. Happily ever after can finally begin—maybe while we’re washing dishes or paying bills or taking a walk. Happiness might start out as just a sense of contentment for a moment here and there, or even as moments where we realize that at least we’re not unhappy. We might reconnect with a sense of curiosity or a sense of playfulness. The world touches us, and we let ourselves be touched.
Sweet Penny Dog: Play with me! 
We might even find that contentment in these ordinary moments can be a great fuel for our wonderful, amazing dreams. It was 6 years ago that I began dreaming about creating a business out of 2 of my loves: hypnosis & meditation. This idea woke me at night in a good way. I could close my eyes and see it happening. And then I’d take walks—go around the neighborhood, feed the ducks, ride my bike. I wasn’t necessarily thinking about starting a business while I did these ordinary things; I was just living the moments of my life while they were actually occurring.

I'd like to tell you that I have lived my entire life in this way; I haven't. It took me almost 40 years to realize that I could actually embody my own life and allow myself to be okay with things as they are (knowing that things are usually plain, old ordinary). In fact it was during an ordinary walk that I looked up to see a For Rent sign in a business park (you know where this is headed). I remember that walk. It was chilly and I was heading toward a bridge. The next week I was knocking down walls, putting in flooring, getting a business license, and hanging a sign out front.
The making of a dream: Hampton Roads Hypnosis & Meditation
Since then the dreams that I have for my business and for my life have changed, which is what dreams do when, while we cherish them, we don't depend on them for our happiness. And when I grasp at dreams instead of letting them be the backdrop for the everyday moments of my life, I stumble. I get scared. I convince myself that I can't just stop, breathe, and wash the dishes in the sink—even when I know that this is exactly the way back to clear seeing. But eventually I come back—we all do. 

Through the ordinary I tap back into the vast heart space of my life that has been there all along—the same heart space that you and everyone else possesses. While I no longer have the physical space that I created, I will always have my heart space. 

Tonight I will eat soup, listen to the rain, maybe read a little. This really is all there is. And all there is is always enough.

Enough, by David Whyte

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused 
again and again
until now. 

Until now.