What if there was enough?What if I wasn’t defective? What if I actually allowed myself to feel right, to feel content… to feel loved? What if I tried creating a life from love instead of fear? I am here to say: IT WAS TERRIFYING. Also, overwhelming? I understand so much better now why many of us (most of us?) strangely prefer holding ourselves back, stuck in our favorite miseries, clinging to our precious pains, rather than just being like “Ok here: this is enough and I shall enjoy it.” It’s deeply disorienting to practice contentment! There’s this weird guilt and shame, and shouldn’t I be doing something more? And oy: first world problems, ammirite? And sometimes contentment practice is sort of boring, and my busy brain wants to make problems to solve. …Not that there aren’t plenty of problems to be solved! Here, at the start of a new year, as the world might be on the brink of geo-political and/or climate collapse, as my son is a year closer to leaving me, as I’m a year closer to my own death, and the sun is a year closer to burning out, right here in this moment I’m here to say: I feel loved. I feel supported by something both inside and outside of me. Allowing myself to feel loved and has meant allowing myself to feel trust that everything is going according to natural order, from the littlest good things to the biggest bad ones all the way to random news headlines. Oh, young people are suffering miserably under the weight of social anxiety, and having way less sex probably because of porn addiction? Everyone’s dying of loneliness? Of course we are. The planet is overpopulated and the natural laws are working as they will to make us all feel isolated and miserable and in conflict so that we’ll breed less. I guess that makes perfect sense. But how could I possibly understand how the natural order of this planet and its universal systems work its way through all of us, on both tiny personal scales and huge social systemic scales? Here on my tiny personal scale, even in this culture of loneliness, I feel loved. Even when I force myself to think of losing everyone — my son, my parents, my friends, my lover, my own body… I make myself think of these losses constantly! — I still feel loved. Maybe especially because I force myself to consider these losses every day, I feel loved today. Yesterday, someone cut in front of me in traffic and I thought, “We’re in a hurry today, I totally get it.” Non-duality, man. It’s great for dealing traffic. We’re all one, in this flow of red lights and angry fists on the steering wheels. I feel loved in part because I get now that we’re all one big flow. How could I not feel loved when I’m in traffic, when I’m in that flow of life? So, I won last year’s resolution: I FEEL LOVED! Even in my discomforts with the sensation (surely this is too much? surely I’m unworthy? surely this will somehow make me lose all my creative drive? surely someone else deserves this more than me? surely this feeling will disappear and I’ll be lost again?), I still feel loved. So check that box for last year’s goal.
What’s this year’s two-word resolution?My two-word goal for this year: Choose focus. Sometimes you don’t have the option to choose to pay attention to one thing. My 9-year-old son and I were talking about resolutions, and I told him about mine with the explanation that sometimes you’re pooping and your kid runs in saying he’s cut his finger and you have to help him with a bandaid even while you’re still pooping because the bleeding needs tending to, but the pooping can’t stop. (This is not a thing that has actually happened to me, but any parent knows that it’s plausibly about to happen at any given moment.) Pooping and bleeding aside though, most of the time, you have the luxury to choose focus. When I wake up in the morning, and my mind instantly starts the laundry list of People Who’ve Wronged Me And Ways To Feel Bad About It, I have a choice to focus on getting on that mental bus to go for a ride, or the choice to choose to focus on getting up and make myself some tea instead.
When I’m drinking that tea and eating my breakfast, I have the luxury to choose to focus on the amazing nourishment in front of me, instead of distracting myself from its glory by scrolling on my phone at the same time. (UG, so much scrolling. All the time with the scrolling!) Choosing focus isn’t about being productive or hard-driving or winning… it can also mean that when I’m taking some time to myself, stretching or taking a bath or going for a walk or reading a book or getting baked and dancing, I have the luxury to choose to pay attention to that thing I’ve chosen, instead of dividing my attention. I mean, what a massive privilege to be able to take a bath without having your attention pulled away by, say, gunshots or starvation or a burning village or even just six children to feed… what a massive privilege! Of course I’m a compulsive multitasker, and I love my efficiencies and the impressive way I can make popcorn while also putting away groceries, or the way I can take out half the recycling while also repotting a plant, or the way I can fold laundry, listen to a podcast, and also text with a friend… But what if I took the time to notice when I had the option of making that choice? I mean first: what if I notice that I have a choice? That’s a rough first step. And then what if, when I have the luxury to, I chose focus? What would my life feel like? What would yours feel like if you worked toward either of these two-word goals?