The adage, 'The rules were meant to be broken" must have been uttered by a pragmatist, not an idealist. An idealist would believe a rule was necessary to provide boundaries, limitations, or order in the Universe. A pragmatist would know better. Rules are meant to be broken because, despite our intentions, we veer off course occasionally. This morning while reading an article on developing simple habits, I realized I do best when I establish rituals, guidelines and elements as part of my daily practices, trusting that they will come in handy when I veer off course.
This morning as a wide shaft of a rainbow pours out of the storm clouds into the northern shore of the river, I am mesmerized by the power and beauty that forms life. Today is the first day of my new year, having celebrated my birthday yesterday. As I connected with my family and friends, I was reminded of who I am and how fortunate my life is. At this time of year, I reflect and consider how far afield I may be from some of my dreams, goals, and desires. It is also time when I consider how mindful and present I have been of each moment, each experience, and each relationship I have been blessed with.
Birthdays are threshold times-times when to look back over the year to see how far we have come, to see what has fallen away, disappeared, been resolved, or healed. It's a time for gaining perspective, realizing what we can bear that we thought might take us down. It's a time to better understand how much we can change or have an effect on others, and how much we cannot or will not. It is a time to come to accept how little we can do for others despite our best efforts and intentions. It is a time we can learn who and what remains faithful and constant in our lives, and what is transitory and fleeting.
Today as the morning light reflected off the dappled storm clouds rising in the West, the sky filled with vibrant pinks, grays, whites, against the bright blue sky. It was a moment between storms reminding us that the Sun comes out after even the darkest, fiercest storms. As the waters of the tidal river ebb away from the reeds, camas, and berry bushes along the shore, the sunlight fills in the rippled places in the silty bed of the ancient river. Yes, time and tides come and go, ebb and flow, and so do our lives move on, deepening along the way.
One of the changing influences in my life this last year has been the addition of two lovely kittens. In just the twinkling of the eye, my life changed from one spent in quiet, serene, and deeply satisfying solitude, to one of rambunctious, cat-and-mouse-chasing chaos. From a schedule determined only by my own biological clock, needs, and the Sun, my morning rituals have dissolved into games I [lay to keep some kind of order in my waking and writing life. From morning journal writing and dream recording practices, my rituals now revolve around designing ways o stay in bed while cats tussle under my covers and threaten to pounce on me if I move to kick them out. As in my teaching days, "the look" coupled with a threat of the squirting water bottle (not needed or used in my teaching days), have become my tools for order. All I need to do is raise the bottle; one squirt was all that was needed to make only the threat necessary. Making the morning ablutions part of the ritual also helps. The rule, "It's a good idea to make your bed first thing in the morning" Has become a challenge. What once was a simple chore and part of my daily ritual has become a raucous, playful, morning meditation with the kittens.
So on this first day of my new year, I am finding peace where I am, in this moment, and in my life. Goals now include befriending myself, becoming more accepting and understanding of who I am as opposed to who I thought I should or would be. Getting more comfortable with my many layers of being--years behind me, memory piling upon memory, days turning to years, years to decades, and time beginning to fly faster that I would ever imagine it could With the patience, wisdom, and good sense of my Nurse Practitioner and my Chiropractor (and the other healers in my life), I am becoming more understanding of my body, mind, spirit, emotions, and ego (the little atman, self, limited mind).
At the end of the past year, one of my old friends died, and the promise of life changed as I recognized the meaning of being present in a very tangible way. One dear friend shared with me her feeling such sadness at the death. She said, "I'm so unenlightened about death." This from a very religious, spiritual, and deeply conscious woman...however her words touched me as the tangible, realness of losing someone, losing the physical presence of someone is so very difficult. We get trapped between how they die and the spiritual reality of what happens to their soul, their energy, their true being. What lies between those two extremes are all those connections, memories, significant moments and places where our energy is still connecting, storing, and holding a place of honor for the one who is no longer with us. When we lose someone we love, we are awoken or we are released. We are filled with dread or we are filled with awe. We are frightened or we are reminded how valuable each moment is. My first response to my friend's death was gratitude for all those in my life who I have loved. Such gratitude for family and friends who are and have been part of my bounty--the pot at the end of the rainbow, for in the end, what matters is that we have loved.
As I stand on the threshold, I look out across the river, the mountains, and the sea, and I open my arms, my heart, and my mind to receive whatever blessings await. On the journey of the new year, my desire is to be awake, ever present and mindful, grateful and aware of the gifts of presence.
As my Frederico, my tomcat, drops his mouse beside me for the umpteenth time, he reminds me to pay attention and be playful. Even if we get the occasional scratch or trip over a cat's tail, living life fully in connection and engaged is worth all the scratches, broken hearts, and messes we make or have to clean up. Life is meant for living, not just observing it or trying to play it safe. We get out of life partially what we put into it. However, the richness of life and living is in what the people and experiences that we let into our hearts and the risks we take in following our dreams, creating beauty, and keeping doors open. It is in keeping communication flowing with those we love.
Life is not just about making it what we want. Life is about treasuring what it is, valuing we we are, and recognizing how fortunate we are to love, to create, to discover beauty and to share life with those we are gifted to have in our lives. Next time you sit with a friend, talk to your child or grandchild, or look across the room at the one you love, slow down and be present a little longer. Listen. Savor. Feel the sense of the silent places between you and recognize how truly rich, fortunate, and blessed you are. The more of those special moments you have, the more you will get scratched, make messes, and need healing. But the more of life you will have to draw on, to sustain you, and the more you will have lived life deeply and significantly. And there will be times when those you have loved will remember those significant times together, and that will be the bond, the connection, the ongoing Creation that we have each added to the web of life and love.