At the beginning of this year, I’d decided that there were three things that I really wanted to do with my year to help myself grow, to see life in a different way, and to live more gratefully.
This post isn’t going to be as long or detailed as it could (should?) be, but nonetheless I really felt like today was the day to revisit these goals.
The first, to BE STILL. I don’t know why I capitalize that, except that it seems boldness and firmness is what is often necessary for any of us to be still. We have to be told with certainty, it is time to be still. NOW. That has really been true for me. I wanted to learn to be still more. I wanted to meditate, to find more time for silence. For listening. And, well, I got it. I got it sort of by force. Because, apparently, that is how I work toward growth. Force.
Because of the limitations this year has put on me, many I put on myself, I have been forced to listen. To sit still and really think about my priorities. Much of my life this year has prevented me from looking forward, from being able to plan. And I mourned that, for a really long time. I resisted it, too. I resented it. I hated that I couldn’t look six or eight weeks down the road, even, because of my circumstances.
It also made me realize that this is always true, whether we are living like that or not. We do not know what six or eight weeks from now looks like, we simply try and quite often it works out. Just often enough to fool us into not living in this moment, and attempting to orchestrate the future. For me, it’s only been in being forced to not look into and worry about the future that I have allowed myself to be still now. To listen to exactly what this moment now is offering me.
I read the other day that prayer (planning?) is when we talk, meditation (silence, being still?) is when we listen. I have learned to listen.
Which, by no accident at all, has helped me with my second gal for 2012: Live as if right now is as good as it’s going to get.
While I haven’t mastered this, the When, as many call it, I have grown in leaps and bounds from where I was. You know the talk, “When I lose the weight” or “When I get a better job” or “When x, y, or z arrives then ______ will all be better.” The waiting for life to get better in order to be who you were meant to be has got to be the biggest trap there is.
The idea that we need a job or money or an outift or a house to change our attitude is a trap. Those things are temporary icing on what will always, always become an eventually stale cake. It’s your attitude, the ideas you wake up and decide to pursue, the way you decide to show your heart to the world every day that is really the reflection of who you are. Sure, it would be SO MUCH easier if you could just write a million dollar check to show the world how you feel, but even a million dollars can be spent far faster and fade far more rapidly than the choice I make each day to appreciate everything that is.
It has been hard, I have to assume it will continue to be. But in seeing that I do always have everything I need in a moment, often without really trying that hard, has made it easier and easier for me to separate my mood from my circumstances. And in some moments, even though I’ve found myself looking like I’ve fallen behind in life in areas I thought were important before, I have looked around and thought, yes, this is as good as it gets. If life never gets better or works out prettier than this moment, I am content.
It has made me more creative in ways that I give to people, in activities I do, in the time I spend. It has made me see that nothing consumable is ever the thing I remember about a moment. It is never the thing that changes me. It’s the people that are there, even if I don’t enjoy a particular person, that challenge me to become who and what I want to be. It has made me realize that it is far better to be where I am at now, in the middle of the pain, and know exactly who I am and what I stand for than to have anything else. I has given me a greater appreciation for kindness, integrity, and the pain in others.
And that was my third goal, to love others. Even the really tough ones.
If for no other reason than this, I have been given this year. There is so much truth to walking a mile in the shoes of another. Going through pain and struggle, not knowing what the future looks like, and being reminded of that every day is the force that brings me to eye to eye with humanity. Now, many times I have chosen not to pay attention to that force. I have chosen to work from afar, to contribute in other ways. And that is okay. We need all of those choices to make up the whole. But. But, allowing my own pain, my own worst year, to shed light on those around me has been the gateway, for me, to move forward.
To not allow the cross words or the short attitude of another, friend or stranger, to create my complete opinion of them is a revelation. This is not to say that you love everyone no matter what they do, this is to say that you give chances. You realize the humanity in yourself by seeing it in others. You realize that everyone has a past, a present, stories they’ve told themselves about their choices and their worth, that create what you see in them today.
When I try to see myself in others, when I try to see us more as a quilt than a blanket, more complicated and intricate and made up of many pieces, I realize that is how I want to see the world. That is how I want to make my choices, and that is how I want people to see me. Do I know that they will? No, of course not. But having lived this year, I can say that now more than ever I will not give up. I will not stop letting love and grace and second chances and, Lord, smiling first, guide my actions.
I have been forced, really, to see others in a new way because I have been forced to see myself in a new way. I have been forced to be more patient and loving because I life has demanded that within my self.
I don’t know if being or feeling forced into your goals is right or wrong. I tend to believe that it simply IS. I know, for certain, that there are no accidents or coincidences in my life. I know that if I hadn’t listened to these forces, allowed them to push me, that they would only have pushed harder. I know that there have been enough times in the past that I probably didn’t listen, and that is why this year has felt so loud.
Loud. Yes. That is what I will call this year. Because it has been hard and painful and joyful and happy and all of that has been pretty intense. All of it together, and separately. It has been loud.
In turn, without knowing what tomorrow may bring, I will make my gratitude really loud. I will revel in my stillness better. I will appreciate all the goodness in this moment because it is full in ways I couldn’t have dreamed. And I will love others loudly. It takes nothing in my life, no WHEN, to do that.
Thank you, to all of you that have become such friends to me on this blog, for supporting me through this year. I know it could not have been fun to read some of these posts, but you never questioned me, always encouraged me, and told me I was on the right track even when I doubted myself. In many ways, your love and encouragement has made my year. I am so grateful. Thank you. THANK YOU.