In the fall of last year, stuff started sucking significantly (I’m so good with alliteration!) around here in a whole new way. In fact, I pretty much stopped posting here biweekly, which was fun while it lasted, particularly those Adam Lambert “It Could Happen” posts. I stopped working on the book I’ve been writing. And then I stopped writing anything. At all. This is not like me. I Just Could Not put my fingers on the keyboard without feeling like they didn’t belong there. This is really not like me. At all. My fingers on the keyboard are usually a place of peace, centeredness, flow, and joy. Typically, every time I write, my fingertips on the keys feel almost as good as when I touched my babies’ faces for the first time.
Something shifted in me recently-ish. Really, it’s been shifting for a long time, and I’ve known it and even worked hard for many years at creating space for it. I just so happened to become particularly mindful of the significance of the shift when I recently had my head in a toilet. (More about that in a bit.) Although I find the ebb and flow of shifting is a force to observe and experience in and of itself, with the advent of the mindful-toilet-bowl shift, I began to feel my fingertips’ desire to touch my keyboard.
As Randy Pausch said, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” I would add that even when it looks to us that we are dealt shitty cards, we are looking at them in a snapshot in time. We can’t see the bigger picture, and often forget there is one. We’re human. We have only our perceptions of the past, although when we rely on them in a healthy way, those perceptions may inform good choices. We do not control the future, although choices we make and actions we take today will affect it. The present moment is all that we have. So what will we do with it?
A couple of weeks ago my oldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson came to visit me. We looked forward to this visit for months and made lots of plans. Along came The Unexpected and some of our plans went awry. There was some struggle and sadness too. It was amidst The Unexpected, struggle, and sadness that we kept finding acceptance, peace, joy, connection and love. Some of our struggles were with mighty issues, but none have ever beaten us before. Following is an example of a tiny one because this one isn’t so personal, but even when the struggles aren’t so small, we still seek to handle them just this way: We spent A Really Long Time at a local restaurant because the kitchen messed up our order. We enjoyed spending extra time together as a family. We enjoyed our server’s kindness and heavy Irish accent (in an Italian restaurant). Conversation and laughter flowed even as the food from the kitchen did not. As we waited and then ate, I simply marveled at the acceptance, peace, joy, connection, and love around the table.
The next week my youngest daughter and I went to visit my middle daughter in Florida. Temperatures were in the high 90s all week and the humidity made my hair look like this:
We had some challenges and struggles, and along came The Unexpected while we were there. One such challenge was a little gross (so the squeamish should click away now) and expensive. I spent $600 on three park hopper tickets to Universal Studios in Orlando, in particular so my youngest daughter could visit the Harry Potter theme parks. I didn’t even read all of the books or see the movies, so much was lost on me, but I was just happy to be along for the ride – until I rode the first ride. It was hot, humid, and also HOT and HUMID. Did I mention that it was hot and humid? And you know what? All the while that it was hot and humid and my hair looked like a dandelion seed head, I marveled at the acceptance, peace, joy, connection, and love that I was feeling. Without fully inquiring as to what we were about to ride, we boarded something that I imagined would be a tour through Hogwarts (like the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland). But no. It was not that. At all. It was a motion simulator from hell. It was all I could do to not barf on the nice lady next to me.
As soon as the ride ended, my daughters and I all ran for the restroom. It’s bad enough to have to vomit in a public restroom in a theme park in Orlando, but this one had automatic flushing toilets. Every time I moved my head, it would flush in my face. Puke. Flush. Puke. Flush. It’s fine. Go ahead and laugh because you know what? I did. Something else happened too.
As my head was in the toilet that was repeatedly flushing in my face, I was completely overcome with joyful feelings. I am not even making this up. My daughters were in other stalls doing the same thing, and although I did not wish for them to be puking, I was so profoundly happy to be with them in that incredible moment and place in time. I found that it was possible to experience unrelenting puking and joy simultaneously. It was awesome and I will never forget it.
We will wound and become wounded in this lifetime. There is no avoiding that as sentient beings. However, amidst the wounds and the wounding, we can find acceptance, peace, joy, connection, and love. We just have to look for it, although I don’t think it is necessary to puke in a public toilet in Orlando to find it. Dorothy Gale from Kansas probably had it almost right. She said, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard.” I think that we will find whatever it is that we are looking for within our own hearts.
What are you looking for?