Thursday – I met Aaron who was dogsitting a basset hound named Otis. I couldn’t resist playing with its giant ears which nearly touched the pavement! On my walk home that night, a girl was lying on her belly, making clicking sounds towards a car. “Did you lose something?” I asked her. She was trying to get the stray black kitten to crawl out from under the car before the owners returned and started the engine.
Friday – Two boys passed walking with a woman, presumably their mom. The older boy told the younger boy: “That’s all you talk about–the toys, the bike, and the games you want to buy.” Mom said, “I wish that was all I’m worried about.”
Later, Sue came up over the hill. She’s a retired Western professor, single all her life, tanned and irrepressibly cheerful. She said, “The blackberries are ripening! Do you pick blackberries?” She told me how she had once made blackberry-raspberry shortcake for her nephew’s birthday. They’ve made black razzmatazz ever since.
Saturday – C. has started riding a bike on the road! I’m so proud of her for overcoming her fears…
E. stood waiting for me, and opened the fence today for me and the hose reel. “5 Star service today!” I told him. He asked me about the progress of the line, and suggested I tuck on a few minutes every day if I want to reach the water by the end of the year.
Our neighbor who had surgery Wednesday is back on her feet today. Amazing!
My thought for the past week of wrestling with discontentment and sadness: if I can’t be happy today, I will never be happy in the future. The idea that if I had X (job, partner, dollar amount), I’d be happy, is an illusion…My desires constantly shape shift so that as soon as one desire is fulfilled, a new one appears to take its place. I’m no different than that little boy so focused on what he wants in the future, he is completely missing the present.
Happiness comes from within–it is never based on one’s circumstances. I learned that hard truth when I went to the most peaceful place on earth– Redwoods Monastery–and brought my pain with me. One day, I would have the most peaceful time imaginable, and the next, I’d wake up in a foul mood for no good reason. The truth is that I am the cause of my pain, pain comes from within too, and not just happiness. That awareness has brought with it tremendous freedom, the freedom to stop running away from challenges and blaming other people, and start making the best of life as it is. As my friend said, “You can’t just pick out the cashews, you have to eat it all.”
It’s so liberating to settle into this imperfect and beautiful life I’ve been given, and so hard. As I write, for example, I’m in a situation that feels completely unbearable but it’s only unbearable when I think or talk about it. When I just take it passively as if I were a brick or other inanimate object, I’m fine. The intolerable moment passes, my frayed nerves untangle themselves. Suffering is only unbearable when I project it into the indefinite future…at least that’s what I tell myself. I am given the grace to get through it one minute at a time, like knitting a half mile rope to the ocean one stitch at a time. And it’s strengthening in other ways. I see my life thriving and blossoming as the manure of this difficult time is poured out on it. Ah, but I will be happy when it’s over!!!!!!!