Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Today is Enough

I confess. I've been dragging through this holiday season, collecting a few shop window reflections to cheer me up (spiky tree, spiky hair, I love it) but still feeling depressed.

I know the why. It's the root cause of any and all depressions I have. (I don't think my depression is clinical by the way. And not just because I'm a medical nihilist. So I probably should call it sadness or being down or blah.) When I slip into a mode of worrying about accomplishments and things and when I last dusted those things I find that I fall out of true appreciation of life and being centered in it. The more I revel in the taste of my food, the minutiae around me, the conversations I hear then the better I feel. The more I notice my steps and wonder that they are still strong for someone who is over 65 then the more the black cloak yields. The more I notice the bright crisp beautiful day then it seems less heinous that people are rushing about for piles of mindless presents. If I stop to read a paragraph in my books while I dust them and don't rush through other household things but stop and revel in my wonderful possessions in my little apartment and my ability to still climb the ladder and reach the high shelves, then chores seem to fall into their place not as awful duties but as wonderful privileges. Not everyone can climb that ladder.

To this point I read an article in The New York Times: "Abundance Without Attachment." I love two quotes in this article and I'll share them here in case you hate following links.
CHRISTMAS is at our throats again. - Noël Coward
Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. - Calvin Coolidge
The article asserts that we should be happy about abundance if we have it and share it but should also avoid attachment. It is the attachment to money and things that is our downfall. In case you still hate following links I'll outline the three-pronged approach to achieving this.
  • First, collect experiences, not things.
  • Second, steer clear of excessive usefulness.
  • And finally, get to the center of the wheel.

First point is pretty obvious, I think. 

The second means doing things for their own sake rather than as a means to a reward. So we clean for the pleasure of the task. We drive to enjoy the road even though, yes, we are headed somewhere. We read and converse not to get information and use it for success but because reading and conversing are pleasure.

The third means moving from the ups and downs of life to the core thing that you think life is about. Many think this is religious faith. According to this article some churches have a 'wheel of life' decoration in a window with a king at the top, a pauper at the bottom and Jesus in the center. Have to look for that. My center is inhabiting the world in full acknowledgment the chaos and hate but with thankfulness that my basic needs are taken care of and that I have means beyond those needs to help others.  Living with the understanding that everything that swirls around me and irritates me (diseases, politics, bad drivers, heedless bikers, active shooters, terrorists, prejudice, psychosis) is just noise until the day comes that it is my day. If I merely try not to be the instrument of pain for someone else, I will be centered.  If I simply enjoy being in this moment, able to type if not 'write' something, then I have all the peace I want or expect.

That active shooter thing? One block away the morning after Thanksgiving was the closest I've come. There have been close calls while walking and driving. In my 20's a medical condition that could have killed me instead infected my appendix and led to surgery that short stopped it. I have stumbled where a fall would have been horrendous if not fatal. This is where we all exist. On a precipice between life and death, relative health and serious decline. The only way we can live happily is to find the center. 

My center is acknowledgment. Of the tightrope we are on and the fact that one day we all fall and we cannot build the kind of net that will protect us. Which means being cautious but resigned. And enjoying every little moment for itself.

Today is enough. And is, in fact, tremendous. 

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