Love Your Life. Every Minute of It.

Be in Love With Your Life. Every Minute of It. crop
A gift my daughters gave me.

I’ve been away these last several months, away from here, these words in space. My journey has gone on, my intention hasn’t changed, but a lot of the material that’s come up has been too personal to share here. Maybe I needed time to sort through it.

To see what was right in front of me.

So where have I been? Right here, sitting, working, reading, writing, and sitting again, quietly on my cushion in front of the back window, my outer gaze blurred, my inner one growing sharper with each passing day. Or, if not sharper, perhaps more forgiving.

I`ve been getting to know my inner landscape, mind and body. What a place! And I’ve been practising, practising sitting still in the midst of a torrent of emotions. Like the ones inspired by my beloved youngest daughter lately.

She’s had a tough time, feeling unwell physically and emotionally. She missed a lot of school and has gotten behind in calculus, of all things. In the year she is applying to university. I’ve lurched from worry to frustration to sadness, with moments of light in between. For the most part, I’ve managed to step aside, giving her time and space to work it out. Occasionally, I would fly back into hover mode, swinging into all kinds of `helpful` action, and firing endless volleys of words at her. Are you fine? How are you feeling? Are you going to go to school today? Please say yes. For the love of God, please just put me out of my misery here.

I ask you: Is there anything worse than seeing your child in distress?

Yesterday, I walked into the kitchen, coffee cup in hand, to greet my daughter good morning. She sat at the table in her school uniform, her back to me, hunched over her toast and an Archie comic.

“Hello, my love”, I said.

She grunted in reply. She didn`t look up, didn`t turn around. Despair and anger rose from her shoulders and hung like a cloud over the whole room.

Hung over me, too, settling into my chest like a block of cement. I felt powerless. Then fear rose up, and rage, one after another, threatening to kick me into a whirlwind of  reaction, ranting and demanding action. What are you going to do about this?! I stood still for a moment, then quietly put down my cup, turned around and walked out of the kitchen and into my office. I sat down at my desk, closed my eyes, and just sank into the sensations that gripped me, the despair, the helplessness, the searing anger, all those wicked claws digging into me. My gut ached, my chest was numb, my shoulders were tense and drifting upward toward my ears. I just sat. And sat. And sat. In that pain, so visceral, so immediate. Never mind what blathering was going on in my head. Here was something huge to focus on. I didn`t ask it to go away. I just sat, not expecting anything really.

Soon enough  – was it two minutes? five? ten? – the feelings shifted, loosened around the edges. became a little less stuck. It wasn’t much, but it was something. A start.

I opened my eyes, and there in front of me, taped to my desk were these words, printed on a slip of paper given to me by my daughters.

Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.

I smiled, barely, just a turning up of the corners of my mouth. Because there in the middle of all that pain, I saw that I was in love with my life. I was grateful. I was relieved. I was thankful that I’d had a line of teachers who’d taught me how to do this, to use the raw material of my life. I knew what to do when pain happened. I knew how to not make it worse by piling more pain on top, to avoid reacting. I took the edge off it. And from there, I could ask, from a place of relative calm, what is really going on here and how can I best help?  

And then I began to feel better. A lot better.  The pain didn’t exactly go away, but something new sat beside it. Confidence. Confidence that everything would be okay, that everything was okay, right then, in that moment. What a few moments before had felt immoveable, suddenly became workable, manageable. I can do this. I can sit still, and calm down, and not resist, and I can act from there, fully present, fully myself, full of kindness, empathy, and love.

And also full of pain.

That’s the catch to being human. Pain. Big and small. It is part of the deal. There’s no escaping it, and once you realize that, once you really get it, things go more smoothly. Not perfectly, but smoothly. You’ll stop fighting so much, and you’ll love your life. Every minute of it.

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