Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Strange and the Familiar ~

Things just don’t always make sense. Sometimes they seem to make sense to someone else, but not us. “If it doesn’t make sense it might not make sense, you know?” Stephen says referring to something we’ve been discussing. “You can’t make something seem rational that’s not. On the other hand, you can’t make someone see something that’s really obvious to us, but not them. We all miss stuff.”

So then are some things just inherently more sensible? And some of us can see that while others can’t? And if so, there must also be things that exist that are less rational. For instance, it makes sense to take care of our health so we are capable of living to our fullest. It doesn’t make much sense to be so careless and destructive that we are living a subpar life or causing it to end too soon. But both of these things happen. And while we can judge one better than the other, we all have the freewill to decide how we want to go about experiencing our lives.

So for things to exist, they don’t really have to make sense, do they? And rationale is not the only way to go. We may rely on it to a large extent, but then, what I think is irrational is not always agreed upon by someone else. So their behavior will be a reflection of where they are mentally coming from. Unless, they aren’t even aware of what or how they’re feeling, and yet they’re acting out nonetheless. Awareness – or we should say lack of awareness - is often the missing link. People don’t always stop and do the work it takes to analyze the basic beliefs from which they’re operating. Which again, doesn’t make sense, but it happens all the time, right?

And then there are the limitations of all that “rational” stuff. Do you ever make a list of pros and cons, and despite the list being weighted heavily to one side, go the route of the other because you ‘just feel it’? And how often are these decisions wrong? In my experience, rational thought will only take us so far. We can rationalize something to death, but still be compelled to act against it, and not regret our decision later. This must mean we’re also guided by other forces or “senses”. What else is there at our disposal, aside from practicality? Intuition, instinct, passion, vision, emotions, thoughts, etc. that seem to come from anyplace but the mind. So is rationale just a part of a larger whole?

Along the lines of yin and yang, sense cannot exist without nonsense. So even when everything turns upside down and we see no sense in sight, it’s always there nonetheless. We might just have to wait it out, but it always shows itself again. When I’m at my wit’s end and it seems the whole cosmos is plotting against me or an aspect of my life, I vent to someone who cares. Or if I’m really feeling trapped, I mentally plot my escape route out of the situation. Even if I’m just humoring myself, I’m really trying to find whatever sanity I can in whatever order seems to be left, which is often hiding in something simple or mundane I normally procrastinate about (like doing dishes or cleaning the frig). And in immersing myself in something I can make sense and order from, I’m letting it all go until the big picture balances itself again.

In one aspect of our lives or another there’s always going to be something unresolved. But if we’re armed with a generally healthy perspective and attitude, we’re going to find joy in something else. One thing going wrong can make everything else feel wrong, but we have to recognize that it’s not. There’s always something good somewhere to hold on to.

“I’m always really interested in the balance of the strange and the familiar,” Stephen says, an acceptance we could all benefit from. But how many of us choose not to be so fascinated by the contradictions in life? We have a strong tendency to fight heartily against them, or give up altogether. But the co-existence of strange and familiar may just be one of the building blocks of our lives, which would make living not just a survival game, but a creative art-form; one that requires varying amounts of certain things… Like the ability to analyze and assess real resources at hand, balanced with a willingness to throw a little caution to the wind. Hey, if both the sensible and the absurd can come at us at once, mixing practicality with a dose of ‘come-what-may, bring-it-on’ adventurousness might sometimes be the most fruitful and freeing response.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Little Blisses ~

Why did Julie Andrews sing about her favorite things in ‘The Sound of Music’? Because she and the Colonel’s children were all distracted from sleep and frightened by a storm. It was probably a metaphor for the political storm building in a much more significant way around them. But we’ve all got “storms” of some sort brewing in our lives or proximity. We can deal with them if that’s an option, but often we have to ‘weather’ the storm: Be heartier and more long-lasting than it. When this is the case, we need pleasant distractions - Or better yet, a genuine desire to note what is uplifting. And when considering this, we shouldn’t judge the quality of the elevating entity by its size, because we’d just be selling ourselves short.

I like to call them ‘little blisses’, and I made a list of some of my favorite things today. Because noting all the sweet and bold things from which we glean pleasure on a daily basis, the significance of our actual burdens lessens somewhat and our trivial worries become that much easier to spot and swat away. Remembering the everyday things makes us stop and appreciate them, and appreciation evokes a state of grace, like a kind of everyday sacredness.

Sure, some days aren’t so productive and some don’t end so rosy, no matter how hard we try. I, for one, did not awake feeling like Julie Andrews bathed in bliss on a mountain top. But I did what needed to be done just to maintain the status quo of my life. It wasn’t until my day was nearly done that I began counting my blessings, inspired by curtains blowing in the wind.

When inspiration and meaning seem out of reach, do whatever it takes to remind yourself of the preciousness in the world and look to all the places where the sacred may reside. Light a candle (number five on my favorite list) and say a prayer or affirmation. Order take-out and give the cook a rest. Take your kids to a park and soak up the nature sounds. Or write down your woes, honor them, and then let them go for the night.

Because when we start looking at what makes us happy – instead of what doesn’t – we invoke little bits of joy. And before you know it, when you look around at what’s truly there, there are a thousand things to love in one instant. And this graceful, appreciative way of looking at our lives brings us back down to an earth that is nurturing, supportive and always providing something for which to thank our lucky stars.