Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wednesday, June 21: A full, rich and wonderful life

What would that be like?

At the very least it would have moments here and there, where we look around ourselves and realize: I am alive. This is great. What a wonderful view of the sky, or my friend’s face, or the flowers, or the rain, or the cars rolling by. What a nice meal. What a tasty mouthful. What a pleasant sound. What a sweet movement. What a brilliant thought.

Appreciation for life, enthusiasm for life, this would be, could be the underlying theme feeling mood tone of a rich, full and wonderful life, don’t you think? Happiness, that great old friend, is so much the better when we know we are happy while we are happy. There are those who say that if you are really happy, you wouldn’t be paying attention to that, and to them I say: nonsense. Being in the moment is part of what makes life so rich, to be in the moment to whatever we are feeling. And if we are happy, and in the moment, we’ll know it.

Now, of course, one guaranteed way to be unhappy, is to be minutely scrutinizing every instant and demanding that it be better and more happy than it happens to be. Or, another kindred route to unhappiness is to demand that “bad” feelings disappear instantly, before we’ve had a chance to listen to and discover if they have anything worthwhile to reveal to us. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they are nonsense.

For example, we may have spent a pleasant morning reading the newspaper and then get up from that and feel not so great. We could shrug that off, or we could blame the bad news, or we could examine: was I conscious of breathing and gravity while I was reading the paper? Was I reading the paper because I didn’t want to take responsibility for figuring out something more challenging and wonderful to do? Was I sucked into the mood tone of disaster and complaining which informs most of the so-called “news?”

If so, my feeling “bad,” is an indicator to spend less time reading the news, or to stay more awake when I do this, or to be aware of my habit of reading to escape real living.

On the other hand, I might hear someone giving me a comment in a disapproving tone and start feeling bad. This, under examination, proves to be nonsense, based on an assumption that other people always have to speak to me just so, or that other people can’t have grumpy moods, or just plain be grumpy people. Basically, this is a feeling bad we all indulge in more or less worthlessly: the feeling bad because others don’t treat us just so. This confusion of our inner sense of well-being and outside approval is a deadly road, and to realize when we feel bad at these times, is to realize we are being suckered into a world of slavery and misery.

So those feeling bad feelings are a chance to wake up from our false assumptions. The work of Byron Katie is a short cut to cutting through these assumptions, as is simply being deeply present to ourselves, sensing ourselves deeply, following our breathing and getting clear: this is me, that is so and so. Words and tones are coming from so and so. That is so and so’s business. My reaction to so and so’s words and tones is my business. This is freedom and a chance to be happy even if someone else doesn’t want us to be.

My, my this makes a full and rich life sound like a place of vigilance, and maybe that is so. Maybe we need to keep a sharp awareness of just where we are placing our attention and a deep commitment to our responsibility to put our attention in worthwhile places: the clouds, the hugging friend, the smiling and laughing children, the blue sky, the pleasant feeling of walk down a street or along a trail, the glorious feeling of the being at the ocean, or in a garden. The excitement and challenge of learning something new. The wonder of discovering how much more we can be than we thought possible.

Ah, now there’s a good start to a rich and wonderful life.


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