We all long, at times, for that simpler time in our lives, when things were not so complicated. When our lives had not been bought and sold so many times over and over again. When the decisions we made were made in pure love, either for ourselves, or for others. The decisions we made were made with the grace that youth and childhood could afford.
That grace is seldom found in our adult lives. We weigh the consequences, the costs, the effects, of everything we do, most often in relation to what we will gain from the doing of a thing. There lives in us an unease. There lives in us a sense that even the joys we experience today, might very likely lead to the burdens of tomorrow. We see happiness as a debt we will owe to despair, and joy as only a respite from sorrow.
The last pure action I performed was as a child, in a park, after a walk with my aunt Violette. We strolled down a sidewalk from my grandmother’s house on a spring day and stopped to swing on a nearby playground. Remembering what she had told me over the phone about dandelions, I plucked one of the blooming weeds and held it under her chin. The story goes, if the color yellow found on your neck when such a thing is done, you must really like butter. She did.
As I look back over my life, there are the good and bad times, but more so, there are the times when I was reliant only on the help of the Divine, and those times when I thought I was reliant only on the Divine. As some of you might suspect, my feeling is that I was always dependent on the Creator, I just did not realize that fact, and to a large degree, still do not.
It is not that we are tossed about on top of the waves of God’s musings. It is not that we are only acted upon in the world without helping to create our circumstance, but it is, in a very real way, that we exchange gratitude for trinkets, joy for the good opinions of others, and naturally occurring happiness for what we believe will bring us that same happiness. Sometimes, it could be said, we “force it”.
I have always been intrigued with the saying, “cut your nose of to spite your face”. It could be called self-sabotage, or it could be self-defeating, but either way, it means doing something out of a selfish anger, often, to prove a point to which only you were concerned. We all do this. We all think we are more important than we are. This is what makes us human and the same.
There is in us, at the same time, the constant pulse of wanting more, and the eternal desire for what we consider to be happiness. Whenever we reach a point where we have happiness, that constant pulse of wanting more begins to urge us to seek something besides what we already possess. These are simple observations found by observing myself and those around me. Life 101 if you will.
When are we able to get off that ridiculous Ferris wheel of never ending desire? Certainly at death. But hopefully before. Ferris wheels are nice and provide a great view, but they are completely predictable. They are controlled by something other than ourselves. There is little opportunity to learn about much other than the same thing, with the same person, over and over again.
Some people might call the “getting off the Ferris wheel” enlightenment. Some may call it dropping out or tuning in. There are countless books on how to detach from desire or pursue life in some non-materialistic way. What I am recommending here is much simpler (and free) and you can take it from, or leave it where, I drop it off.
Give thanks. No matter what. Give thanks. Not for crappy things that happen, but for the possibility of better things happening. Not in the face of the oppression of others, but in the knowing that oppression shows weakness. Not for the fact that you have it better than some poorer soul, but for the commonality found in all souls. Always with a hand stretched to the Divine and always with a hand holding those you love.
This leaves zero hands to drag the past around. This leaves no way to consider what was done in previous incarnations of what we once were. We are here now. We have only now. It was this way yesterday and it will be this way tomorrow. We remember the past but we are not responsible for the past. We will be in the future but we are only able to act in the “now”.
Was my last pure action really the holding of a weed to my aunt’s chin? In some ways, yes. There have been other moments that were close. My conversations with my wife. The touch of her hand on my forearm and the look she gives me when we forget about our worries. Interactions with children of all ages. Smiling for no reason at all and the laughter that comes from the sheer enjoyment of a moment.
These moments are pure(ish). They all have a place in my heart, but there is something in my head that catalogs those times as “good”. That categorizing of events takes some of the purity out of the experience, but they are as pure as they can be.
I am whole, but I am not done. In a year I may write something that contradicts everything I have said in this article. In three months I may find that there was an event that changed my life forever. Today I might realize that all that I have done until now was in vain and needs to be eliminated from my experience. Those possibilities excite me. They also allow me not to be bogged down by what I consider so very important right now.
My struggle is for consistency in a world where nothing is consistent. My struggle is staying in the game, the rules for which I never quite understood. If I were honest with myself, and I hope to be, I wonder if everyone that is good at soccer is destined to be a professional soccer player. I wonder if those that are great painters might find more happiness doing janitorial work.
Back to being grateful. I am thankful I have the luxury of pondering such things. There is a question asked in some sacred text I read, and honestly I cannot tell you where to find it. It is something similar to this. What does it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his soul? This seems to be an important question. I might say it like this. How much of ourselves are we willing to sell for comfort, ease, and peace of mind?
You decide that for yourself each day. I do the same. We think, at times, that we know what blessings are. We think, at times, we know what tragedy is. The enemy of creativity is our thinking that we know. The enemy of happiness is the longing for happiness. If only there was a dandelion, or buttercup, nearby, that could determine what we enjoyed, we might know for certain that this live is meant for living, and not for the acquiring of “things”.