One Perfect Life

There is no ‘one perfect life’ out there waiting to be lived.  What there is are a series of moments, each one complete and perfect in and of itself no matter if it contains joy and wonder or sadness and sorrow; each one lived fully and completely and in total awareness.  That is the definition of a perfect life, and that is the life that I am living.”  ~SSHenry

I don’t know about you, but there are definitely days when I feel as if I am spinning my wheels.  I’m not just talking about not being able to get anything done (though that may be a symptom of the larger issue).  What I’m talking about is the feeling that there is something I should be doing in order to bring the life that I was meant to live into my reality besides just visualizing the life that I want to have.

Oh come on, don’t tell me that you haven’t considered how your life could be better!  Most everyone has a picture in their heads; a picture of the ‘perfect life,’ the one they would be living if only things were just a little different.

When I close my eyes and focus I can actually see that life.  I can see the house that would perfectly suit me.  I can walk around and touch the things I’d have in it.  I can see the people that I would be sharing my life with.  I can laugh at the conversations and the experiences and the humor that fill our days.  I see myself in a position of being able to make the world a better place through my words and my example and the feeling of knowing that I am living my life to the fullest.  I can feel the peace that is in my heart and the love that weaves itself through every moment of this life like a bright and glittering gold thread unobstructed and unimpeded and stretching off into an infinity of tomorrows.

I’ll be honest.  The picture of that perfect life is seductive.   It calls to me at the oddest times; tangling me in a lover’s embrace; whispering words of undying devotion in my ear.  It is what I want most; my heart’s desire; and there are days when my heart cries at the thought of having to do without it for even one more minute and when I look around at the life I have and see just how far from perfect it is.

I told this to a friend of mine once, and they said “okay, so now you know what you want, so go out and GET it! Make it happen!”  And I tried to explain it to them – at the time I failed miserably.  Maybe I’ll do better with the explanation today.

You see, while my heart has set its goals; while it knows where it belongs and what sort of a life it would best be suited to, there are still aspects of my reality that I have to deal with right here and now due to decisions that I made yesterday (or years ago) that were not in alignment with that vision for my perfect life.   Those decisions have created situations and have brought people and circumstances into my life that may not be part of that picture of perfection, but they cannot simply be tossed aside either.

Yes, there are some people, who would drop everything to pursue their heart’s desire; who would drop all of their responsibilities and obligations to pursue that perfect but elusive life.  But that is not something I can do.  Not yet.  You see if I did that; if I dropped everything and went out looking for it; once I found my ‘perfect life’, it wouldn’t be perfect any more due to all of the pain and drama I had to go through and that I put other people through in order to get there.

What I can do is to stop being something that I am not.  I choose to be exactly who and what I am at every moment of every day.

This is perhaps one of the hardest things to do; ever.

Go ahead, try it.  Close your eyes and picture that perfect life.  Feel the love and the joy that course through you when you imagine yourself immersed in that life; the places, the people, the experiences that fill you up.  Imagine how you respond to the people and things around you.  Now open your eyes and take a good hard look at the life you are living.  My guess is that most of it doesn’t match up at all.

Now, instead of moping about what you don’t have in your life; about what you are missing, instead of sighing and saying “I’ll just have to wait for heaven,” there is, as I said, just one thing that you can do to change it right here and now; one thing that you can do to bring that life that you were meant to live into existence and that is to change the one thing that you do have control over; yourself.

How?  That’s easy. Stop trying to be something that you are not.

You’ve seen who you really are; that person that occupies that perfect life.  You’ve felt how passionate and enthusiastic they are about life.  You’ve experienced (if only in your heart and mind) the fullness and richness of the life that they lead.  Now stop pretending that you are not capable of living that kind of a life right here and now and start making the kinds of decisions and taking the kinds of actions that they would take in the same situation; actions and decisions that would support and encourage that perfect life and not a continuation of the life that you are currently living with all of its drama and angst.

It’s really not as difficult as you may think.  Actually, it only requires one thing; Attention.

Start paying attention to yourself; to your thoughts; to the beliefs that you incorporate into your life as a result of those thoughts, of the decisions that you make because of the beliefs that you hold and the actions that you take as a result of those decisions.  Are these the thoughts and beliefs and decisions and actions of the person in your perfect life?  Is this how your higher self would act in this situation?  Is this a belief that would support that life that your heart yearns for?  Is that a decision or an action that the person living that perfect life would make?

If yes, then go ahead; entertain the thought, accept the belief; make the decision and take the action.  If no, then slam on the breaks.  Do a 360 if need be and choose something entirely different.

Yes, you may get some astonished looks and some frustrated people who expected you to behave in the same way that you always have.  But remember, this isn’t about them.  This isn’t about fitting into their expectations or about maintaining the guise of you as the person they always thought you were.  This is about being exactly who and what you are in order to manifest your perfect life.

It will not be an overnight transformation.  Most of us (myself included) have far too much baggage stored up to be able to simply change things overnight.  It is going to take time; time and infinite patience and the ability to see that baggage drop to the side of the road and not do the instinctive thing and pick it back up again but to let it go.

As you become more and more yourself you are going to lose things.  You will lose the respect of individuals that you thought were your friends (but who obviously aren’t).  You will lose influence with people who liked the fake you; that persona that you cultivated and who find your authentic self to be absurd or irresponsible.  You may even find that relationships with people close to you crumbling because you are no longer living up to their expectations.

But remember, it is all a part of the process.  And in truth, when it comes right down to it, it’s all about the process – all of it.  Because even though your heart feels the pull of that perfect life, even once you find it, it is not something you simply have.  It is something that you do; something that you are; something that you continue to be, voluntarily, on a day to day basis.

Yes, there are days when I become impatient; when I think that the life I was meant to live will never become a reality.  Then I have to laugh, because I am LIVING the life I was meant to live.  Each moment – including the impatient ones – is part of the process.

Each desire for something more; each longing, each yearning that spurs me on to thoughts and beliefs and decisions and actions that lead to change to bring those things into my life, each new person and experience that brings me another moment (or series of moments) to savor- it’s all a part of the life I was meant to live; the life I AM living.  There is no ‘one perfect life’ out there waiting to be lived.  What there is are a series of moments, each one complete and perfect in and of itself no matter if it contains joy and wonder or sadness and sorrow; each one lived fully and completely and in total awareness.  THAT is the definition of a perfect life, and THAT is the life that I am living.

How to Be Happy

“Happiness is not something that someone hands you, like a sweater or a scarf.  It’s not something that you find hanging on some random hook and which can be ripped off of you by ill-intentioned people or ripped when it catches on a thorn of meanness or misunderstanding.  Happiness is something that you ARE not something that is done to you.  It’s like drinking a glass of water.  Once that water is inside of you it can’t be taken away.  It becomes a part of your body finding its way into every cell and molecule.  Of course you do have to choose to drink the water in order to reap its benefits.”  ~ SSHenry

Are you happy?

No, seriously.  Are you happy?  Do you wake up in the morning with a smile on your face and hope in your heart?  Does your unfettered enthusiasm for life fallow you through the day and spill over onto those around you without you even trying?  Do you see the good in everything and hope for the best in every situation no matter how grim the circumstances may seem?

Yes, I know, I’ve just defined an optimist (or, as some people tend to call them, a Pollyanna).  You know the story of Pollyanna don’t you?  It is the story of a little girl who had every reason in the world to be unhappy.  She was an orphan.  She was sent to live with a cold and unfeeling aunt.  She didn’t fit in with anyone around her.  And yet, she always saw the good in everything to the point that she nearly drove everyone around her crazy with her relentless upbeat attitude.  People actually got upset with her because she was always so positive about everything.  This is probably because they have no idea what happiness actually is.

“Happiness isn’t optimism” a friend told me once when the topic came up in conversation.   But he was wrong.  Well.  Not totally wrong.  Unlike optimism which tends, at least in most people, to be a conscious choice (choosing to see the good in every situation), happiness is something that you are.  You don’t choose to see the best in every situation; you just see the best in every situation.  You don’t choose to be enthusiastic, you are enthusiastic.  You don’t choose to follow your joy, you are your joy.  This happiness radiates from every pore in your body because it is part and parcel of who and what you are.   Of course, before you can BE happy, you have to CHOOSE to be happy.

Confused yet?  It’s really not as difficult as it may seem.

You see, happiness is not something that someone hands you, like a sweater or a scarf.  It’s not something that you find hanging on some random hook and which can be ripped off of you by ill-intentioned people or ripped when it catches on a thorn of meanness or misunderstanding.  Happiness is something that you ARE not something that is done to you.  It’s like drinking a glass of water.  Once that water is inside of you it can’t be taken away.  It becomes a part of your body finding its way into every cell and molecule.  Of course you do have to choose to drink the water in order to reap its benefits  and there are always those who would rather let themselves become dehydrated rather than deal with the “sloshy” feeling that comes from a surfeit of joy and contentment, and this is where the concept of happiness being a choice comes in.

Like choosing to drink the water, if you choose happiness it becomes a part of you; diffusing through every system and cell in your body making everything run smoother and more efficiently.   It’s true!  The happier you are; the more enthusiastic and positive you are about what is happening in your life and the more content and productive you will be.

No, this does not mean that you ignore the bad things that happen around you or the mean and hurtful things that are said or done to you or even how much pressure is being put on you to accomplish certain things within a certain timeframe.  It simply means that once you have drunk from this fountain of happiness; once you have chosen to make it a part of you, you understand that there is nothing outside of yourself that can take it away from you.

No matter what is happening.  No matter what is being said.  No matter what is being done; you are happy.  This happiness may not always express itself in unbridled enthusiasm or excitement; it may at times simply be a core of peace and contentment that burns steady and bright inside of your heart keeping you warm even in the coldest of times.  But it is there, and it can make all the difference.

The White Knight Complex

“Don’t get dependent on that Knight in Shining Armor.  All being rescued does is remove you from your immediate circumstances.  It does nothing to address the question of how the devil you ended up in that situation to begin with.”  ~SSHenry

Why is it that in every fairy tale that features a princess there is always a knight in shining armor (or sometimes tarnished armor, black leather or blue jeans and a cowboy hat) waiting right around the corner to rescue her?

God I find the princesses annoying; all perfect hair and fluffy dresses (usually long to inhibit freedom of movement) and more often than not under some sort of a spell that keeps them from escaping on their own or even realizing that they are just a pawn in some dark and evil chess game.

Yes, yes, I know, the princess is symbolic of innocence and purity and the knight is supposed to symbolize the noble instinct to protect and preserve those qualities.  But honestly, as a culture we’ve taken this to heart so deeply that we’ve ingrained the idea of the noble knight; the belief in there being someone or something out there that will “save” the princess (or the innocent child, or the weak and willful sinner) into our collective unconscious.

More disturbing to me than the idea of a savior, however, is the thought that so many people who are capable of saving themselves believe that they need someone to do it for them.  Why is that?  Why can’t they see that they have the power within themselves to not only to take care of the problem at hand but to take responsibility for themselves; for today’s thoughts and beliefs; these choices and actions that will become tomorrow’s reality?

That is how it works you know.  It is the thoughts we entertained yesterday; the beliefs we held to be true; the choices we made and the actions that we took that determine where we find ourselves today.

Every thought that enters your head (and more importantly, those thoughts that you tend to dwell on) impacts the beliefs that you hold to be true.  These beliefs in turn affect the choices that we make on a day-to-day basis.  And, just as one domino is responsible for knocking down the next in the line; the choices that we make directly impact our actions; actions which determine the look, feel and flavor of the reality that we will find ourselves in tomorrow.

Ah yes, I know there will be some of you that say that this is far too simplistic of a view; that it can’t possibly be this easy.  It can’t possibly be that all a person has to do is to pay attention to the thoughts that are passing through their minds and to select those that they want to bring into their reality (this is called mindfulness by the way).  I can hear the questions now; “What about the bad things that happen to us; those things that we have no choice in?” or maybe “What about the influence of god or the devil; of good or evil?”

It is true that we do not get to choose all of yesterday’s circumstances (well, true that is unless you believe in reincarnation and soul destiny, but without going into all of that we can still address the issue).  There are things that happen to us that we have no direct control over.  But even so, this does not mean that choices we made in the distant (or not so distant) past may not have some impact on whether or not we put ourselves in a position to have those particular experiences.

And yes, there are some things that are done to you; things over which you have absolutely no control.  But what we do have control over (at least outside of those extreme situations where the trauma is so extreme that the mind disconnects from reality altogether and makes it impossible for the person to change their thought patterns) is how we choose to react and respond to those experiences that we did not consciously choose to participate in.

We can choose to react from fear; allowing those circumstances to control our lives and seeing them as obstacles on our path to happiness, or we can change our perspective and choose to see those circumstances as opportunities to prove that we are in control of our own destinies.

Of course if we do not acknowledge the fact that it is our thoughts as well as the beliefs that are spawned by our thoughts, the decisions we make due to these beliefs and the actions that we take that even in regard to those circumstances that are beyond our control, then it is perfectly understandable that we would look around desperately for someone or something that will rescue us from the tangle our lives have become; a white knight in shining armor who will cut through the crap and free us from the mess that we have gotten ourselves into through our thoughts and words and actions.

Of course relying on these knights opens up its own can of worms; like dealing with the fact that until we learn how to take responsibility for our own lives we will continue to revert back to those thoughts and beliefs and actions that got us into trouble in the first place (and we’ll have to call on the white knight once again to work his magic).

How much simpler to simply acknowledge the fact that it is ourselves and ourselves alone that have the power to change our lives for the better; that by accepting responsibility for everything our lives are right now at this moment in time that we can take positive action to ensure that today’s thoughts, beliefs and actions will work together to create a tomorrow that is everything we could have hoped for.

When Only the Moon Howls

“There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.”

~ George Carlin

We’ve all had those nights; nights when logic and reason abandon us to those thoughts that we usually keep locked up deep in the untouchable places of our minds. You know the thoughts I’m talking about.  The kind that we keep locked up so tight that we somehow manage to convince ourselves that we never entertained them.

It’s on nights like these that we wander around the house searching for something; unsure of what it is that we are looking for but finding nothing but frustration and abandoned hopes scattered like overlooked dust bunnies beneath the larger pieces of our mental furniture.

If you are anything like me you wander from room to room; switching on lights, computers, making a cup of hot tea, running a futile Google search (and usually for random phrases that keep running through your mind), perhaps skulking around the yard in hopes of encountering something unusual to keep us occupied, maybe listening to some music or attempting to read a few chapters in your current book until finally you crawl back into bed and close your eyes in hopes that sleep will finally find you.

It is then of course that they come.

But it isn’t sleep that creeps into the silent spaces in your mind.

It isn’t sleep that seeps into the corners of your heart and congeals in oil-slick pools that make your stomach turn over just looking at them.

It is those dark contemplations; those self-doubts and depreciations and fears that we keep locked away in the daylight; buried deep in air tight caskets like so many vampires relegated to the dungeons beneath our waking thoughts.

For some reason they thrive in the moonlight and bask in the play of shadows that fall across the living room floor.  You can see them slithering along the baseboards and skulking in the darkness under the stairs and worming their way across the landscape of your mind.

The impression of teeth; of claws extending from misshapen hands; hands that are reaching out to tear our self worth into shreds with one swipe and stand growling over the carcass of our sanity like a hell hound bent on tearing our soul right out of its shell. It’s enough to paralyze you; to leave you shivering on the couch with a blanket pulled around your shoulders, hunched against the chill of uncertainty and self-loathing, the tea congealing on the coffee table and every creak and groan in the floors and pipes only underscoring the sinister ambiance.

When these nights come – and they will come – you can either cower in fear and hiding your heart from the despair that they generate, or you can embrace them; pull them into the core of your heart and welcome them with open arms as long lost aspects of yourself.

You see, these unlovely thoughts; these fears and doubts and feelings of impotency and despair are just as much a part of you as the practical and upbeat aspects of your daytime self; the one who always knows just the right words to say and who others look to when they are in need of wisdom and emotional support.  Denying the truth will only give them more power each time that they manage to creep beyond the confines of those deep places to which you have relegated them.

If you embrace them however, if you welcome them as a part of yourself that has heretofore gone unacknowledged and greet them with love you will find a strange thing happening.  Like the early morning mist that dissipates as the sun creeps over the horizon, these dark and loathsome thoughts will melt away in the all-forgiving light of you love.  You will see them as they truly are, and they will lose what power they had over your heart and soul and mind.

 

The Tsunami of Emotion

“This tsunami of emotion never gives you adequate warning.  Of course it doesn’t.  It waits until your back is turned…until you are sure that you have everything that you could possibly want or need and then, oh yes then it crashes over you with an unstoppable force; ripping your feet out from under you and washing you away on a tide of passion; out to an uncharted sea of possibilities.”  ~ SSHenry

Have you ever stood in the ocean; pants rolled up above your knees; feeling the pull of the tide around your legs; the way it tugs the sand out from under your feet throwing you more and more off balance every time the wave carves deeper beneath you?

But you aren’t afraid.  Not yet.  Not so long as you are only up to your calves in water; not so long as you can manage to stay upright.  And you’re balancing!  Yes, it’s not as hard as you at first thought.  Yes, having the ground pulled out a bit from beneath your feet can be a bit disconcerting, but it’s really not bad once you get used to it; once you learn how to regain your balance.

It’s sort of like life, isn’t it?  There is always something coming at you; a wave of emotion; of drama of issues and griefs and sometimes joys.  Each of them tugs at you; pulls at you; begs you to come “just a little bit deeper” or to adjust your footing to compensate.

It’s that siren song; the sea pulling you into its depths and soothing your fears and calling you home; calling you to surrender to the inevitable. But you’ve got this.  There is a rhythm here; if you can feel it you can remain upright and in control.

And then comes the rogue wave; the tsunami of emotion; that unexpected and (most times) unwanted tidal wave of passion that surges over you and through you and turns your entire world upside down.

This tsunami of emotion never gives you adequate warning.  Of course it doesn’t.  It waits until your back is turned; until you are sure that you are stable and steady; that you have everything that you could possibly want or need and then, oh yes then it crashes over you with an unstoppable force; ripping your feet out from under you and washing you away on a tide of passion; out to an uncharted sea of possibilities.

You can’t fight it.

Well, let me rephrase that.  You can fight it, but nothing you can do will stop it and the most you can hope for is to keep your head above water and to ride it out until the surge passes and you find yourself out in unexplored waters where even the powerful beams from the light houses of logic and reason simply cannot reach.

When you open your eyes at last and find yourself adrift on waters strewn with the wreckage of what you once thought was a stable life (that once upon a time world where the lifeguards of logic patrol the shores and keep a person from getting too far over their head), and find yourself beyond any visible shore, you have two choices:

You can either let yourself drown in despair over what you have lost, or you can lie back and let the current take you where it will and trust that the shore it brings you too will far exceed even your absolute wildest dreams.