“It is very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple.” ~Rabindranath Tagore
I’ve been away from writing for a while. I’m starting to learn to appreciate the ebbs and flows of inspiration. It’s different for each person, but for some, periods of writing about life have to be separated by periods of living life.
When I look at my life, most of the spiritual growth I have experienced has come from intimate/romantic relationships and the alternating periods of solitude. I’m sort of existing between those two right now. Not in a relationship, but have a few relationships that are in various stages of whatever they are or are going to become, none of which I have any idea about. And I’m oddly okay with that.
Early this year I decided to change my expectations about dating. For the past 4 years I’ve been going on dates and for more than three of those years I have had unconscious prejudices and expectations about what constitutes a relationship, what relationships are supposed to look like, and how long they are supposed to last to even be called a relationship. But I’ve noticed if you challenge most beliefs, they rarely stand up to even the most basic scrutiny.
As a result of my decision, I have had encounters of varying lengths this year, some of which have turned into lovely friendships and some that were clearly meant to be no more than isolated incidents of people hanging out being nice to each other for a little while. And I’ve learned that when one is living with awareness in the present moment, there just isn’t any such thing as time or duration. Every moment is equally powerful as a means to affect change in the world and every encounter, however brief, has the potential to change the lives of the people involved. It’s all a matter of perspective.
When we have expectations of how things are supposed to go, we rob ourselves of the universe of possibilities that exist in every moment. It is by challenging everything, every dearly held belief, that one can unlock the potential that exists in the now. And the thing that is most amazing, to me anyway, is the lovely sense of peace and calm that comes out of the chaos of questioning oneself in this way. Because it’s only fair to tell the truth upfront, what I’m doing here with my life, this is not the easy spiritual path. This is the gut wrenching, second guessing, messy, mistake-filled path to enlightenment. When it’s all said and done, I’ll likely attain enlightenment the same way I’ve accomplished everything this lifetime – sliding into home base, bloodied and bruised and covered in dirt. It’s beautiful, it’s the path that chose me, and I am finally, finally, finally learning to embrace it.
I am so grateful for my life. And it’s not because it looks how society says it should look at my age. It’s so far from normal, a fact about which I used to be ambivalent – largely due to my desire to sort of blend into the background as much as possible.
Now I just don’t care…in a good way.
I know I’m weird by most people’s standards. But it leans way more in the direction of colorful or eccentric rather than certifiable or desperately in need of meds.
The ways in which I’m weird are ways I have no intention of changing. I do and say things other people don’t have the courage to do or say. Things that can come only from an open heart. I’ve learned to give thanks for everything. And by everything, I mean absolutely everything. Everything I once considered painful, heart wrenching, disappointing, or frightening is now simply compost for the garden of my life.
Not only does this awareness, which isn’t new to me, but has been refreshed in recent months, apply to dating and the ability to let people come and go fairly fluidly in my life, but also to finding joy in the most basic and fundamental things. Once a person can do this, find a way to be happy without needing all or most of the things the world tells us are necessary components of happiness, one is truly free. Really all it takes is a willingness to be grateful for things, just as they are, without going that step further and thinking about all the things that would be necessary to make it better somehow.
One of the most beautiful results of letting go of expectations, both my expectations of the world and the world’s of me, is that in doing so, everyone around me feels a sense of permission to do likewise. Nobody needs anyone else’s permission to be who they really are, but the world can be a harsh place and it’s rare to find those who will actually love and accept you exactly as you are without wanting you to change anything. The person who can be that for others gets to spend their life watching people blossom and bloom and come to life before their eyes.
I think it just underscores the truth that we are all really looking for the same things in life. Acceptance and love and a safe place to just be. I think most of us feel pretty alone on our paths at times, especially those of us who are non-conforming, so it’s a kind thing to walk with each other part of the way whenever possible. And the only way we can do that for each other is to learn empathy and release judgment.
It’s amazing what brings on these realizations.
I sit here alone in my little condo, not tons better off financially than I was a couple of years ago, but definitely stable and going the right direction. I look around at my fairly simple and minimal surroundings and I see nothing but beauty. This place is not a palace, but it’s my simple, lovely, easy, peaceful haven and oasis from the demands of the world. And I am happy.
This weekend belongs to me and that’s something I haven’t had a lot in the past couple years. I do not have to do anything for anyone else this weekend. I can do or not do whatever I want, whenever I want to. Spending part of it drinking coffee, writing, and listening to 70s vinyl is fairly close to perfection. I know it wouldn’t be for everyone, but it is for me.
To feel as if all is right in the world and nothing needs to change for everything to be okay right now - a sense of equanimity – this is one of the greatest feelings we humans get to experience.
Far as I can tell, the trick is to be able to experience that no matter what is going on out there.
Sometimes I think when all humans figure out how to do that – live and let live, basically – we will finally get to move on to whatever is next for us as a species.
May we all find it, the peace that transcends all reason and understanding.