Finding rest through the hard and harder

Some people say, “The hard times help you appreciate the good.”  I couldn’t disagree more.

There will always be hard times.  You can truly learn to be grateful every day for all you have, without hardship as an excuse.  The good and bad don’t exist as a contingency.

“There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity. But the contradiction lies a little deeper than the mere conflict between the desire for security and the fact of change. If I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life. Yet it is this very sense of separateness which makes me feel insecure. To be secure means to isolate and fortify the “I,” but it is just the feeling of being an isolated “I” which makes me feel lonely and afraid. In other words, the more security I can get, the more I shall want.

To put it still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.”

– Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity

Processing the hard and harder

When I think of this year, I honestly think, “Oh god.”  Every good thing (even very good things) came with 3-5 heavy things.  In 2016, there was: a broken leg (leaving me inactive for 3 months), a new job, an old job (more or less) put to rest, a new business, wedding planning, honeymoon planning, looking for a house for 7 months, being under contract 3 times, a family death, really hard family affairs and more.

While some of those events seem fun, please try and process the stress that comes with them.  It’s not a mind over matter thing when you order an airline ticket, they book the wrong day and you have to be on hold with them for 8-10 hours for 2 weeks, before you go into a dispute and finally talk with someone who can help you navigate your way around it.  While listening to the same terrible waiting music tune over and over again and being sidelined multiple times doesn’t have to define your day or weeks, it isn’t, in and of itself, a pleasant experience.

On Being…

Virginia Woolf calls being present, feeling all the nuances of a moment, “Being.”  Its counterpart would be “Non-being.”  Non- being would be getting through the day emotionally – not internalizing much or connecting thoughts to a whole big-picture.  While everyone experiences moments of Non-being (i.e. do you remember your lunch yesterday?), it’s important to recognize the areas where we are Being and to see the value in those moments.

Being through Books

This year one of the areas that has kept my sanity through thick and thin has been books.  I’m already at 52 for the year (I’ll list them in a year-end blog) and still have two months left to go.

On any given day, I may not be Being in my daily actions, but it doesn’t mean I am not putting big pieces together from what I’m reading and tying connections between what I’m reading and what I’m going through or experience as a whole.

An Example

When Nanny died, I fortuitously started reading books on grief.  They were next in my cue, and I really didn’t know what I was getting into.  I read a book by Joan Didion about her husband dying and a few years later, her daughter.  I read of her not being able to get rid of all his shoes in case he comes back, not having a memorial for months and how an attentive friend who brought her daily Congee was her lifeline – as she couldn’t have eaten anything else, nor could she remember to eat.

At any given time, I have these scenarios running in the background.  I churn through what I’m processing from the books I’m reading and learn how to apply the information.  This practice helps me see through a scenario, perpetuate my gratefulness and always have one foot outside of otherwise consuming emotions and stresses.  You have to go through things no matter what.  You have no control.  The important thing is realizing how to be the wind instead of the reed.  And sometimes, it takes a few tries.

2016 Positives

Of course, in this year we’ve had some of the best things happen; we’re getting married, found an amazing home, are staying afloat financially, traveling to Argentina for an epic adventure, having this huge event thrown by our families, and of course, we get to share these deeply meaningful moments with our closest family and friends.

Ebbs and Flows

As in friendship, marriage and life in general, there’s the ebbs and flows, ups and downs, with no identifiable rhythm.  I look at the richness of our day to day.  And in that, I commit myself everyday.  It’s a choice to be grateful for all that I have – the life I build and share.

Wedding Week

As the week we’ve been preparing for all year finally approaches, all the hysteria subsides.  I am so excited, to say the least, to thoroughly enjoy every minute of these days with all my family and friends.  While the year has its ups and downs, these days, for me, will be perfect.

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