Living this life well, in a way that feels good in your skin, is, indeed, an art form. You can grip the pen and sweat blood to try to get the story of “How Things Should Look” out of your head and into your reality, but you’ll only create pain that way; pain and sorrow, for yourself and those close to you. You aren’t writing this whole story. You get to manage your inner world, that’s where your masterpiece can happen. You can create a garden inside yourself, or an ocean, or canyons or waterfalls or an entire underwater world full of colors you’d never see above ground and even that is hard, by the way. Even managing yourself is enough work to keep you busy– deciding which thoughts deserve your attention, where to direct your energy. Bringing yourself into a deeper state of awareness, aligning yourself with what you know to be true for you, making your world a loving, peaceful, compassionate place to be.
The world around you is not yours to control, however. Other people are not yours to control, either. Not your family members or your own children or your friends. You own no one but yourself, and even that’s debatable; regardless, you are here for a blink of time in a body that won’t last forever.
The thing is, most of us think small. I have this body and it defines me, it’s who I am, and it needs to be controlled so it will look the way I want it to, or the way society wants it to, or the way I’ve been convinced it ought to look, which takes up a lot of my time and energy, and usually makes me feel badly about myself. I have this life, and this job, and I live in this house in this city, and I grew up here, and went to this school. Somewhere along the way, this thing happened to me, and then this other thing happened, and these things define who I am, and so this is how I look and where I live and what I do and where I’m from, and now that I’ve told you all of those things, why don’t I feel seen and understood? As if the details are the essence of you. As if you could be defined by a list of things. You are a human being on planet earth, which is a miraculous thing in itself. You are so much more than the sum of the details of your life, and upon which details do you place the importance? What are you feeding? What are you doing here? Have you figured it out yet?
Here’s what you can hold onto (and give away): your integrity, your truth, your good heart, your trust in your own journey, your ability to give love freely, your understanding that everything is in a state of flux, even you. Here are things we can all work on: our outlook, the way we’re thinking about the world and other people, our level of acceptance, and when we can’t get there, our level of tolerance, patience, compassion and understanding; discovering our particular gifts, and the best ways we can share them, figuring out how to be of service, and having faith that somehow or another we are going to keep growing and learning and becoming better and stronger. Things to let go of: attachment to what other people will think or want or need or do; attachment to the way the story will unfold, and the way we think things ought to be. Life is going to bring all kinds of circumstances. Some of them will be beautiful and some of them will take your breath away with their cruelty and devastation. We get it all in this life.
Do your thoughts create your reality? In this context, I pose the question because some people believe if they think a thing hard enough, they can bring it into existence and sometimes the thing they’re thinking has to do with what another person will do or say or want. So to that I say no, you can’t “manifest” another person’s journey and you’d be walking down a confused path if you tried. You can hope for everyone’s greatest good. You can wish people well, and hope they heal and offer you support and love, but you can’t control other people with your mind. Part of becoming spiritually and emotionally mature is learning how to face reality as it is, which is not always as we’d like it to be.
Living intentionally is powerful, and putting your action behind your intention is where it’s at. Your thoughts don’t create your reality, but they affect your reality quite a lot. If you believe the world is cold and unfair and people suck, that’s going to affect the way you move through the world and interact with other humans. If you’re coming from that dark place, the world will rise up and meet you there. People don’t respond with warmth and compassion to a person who walks around grunting and barely making eye contact, so if you walk out the door in that frame of mind, yes, it will affect your reality, because you will create the circumstances to confirm your hypothesis that the world is cold and people suck. Once in awhile, some kind-hearted person may mess with your experiment, but you’ll just peg them as nuts, or flowery, or one of those hippies, and get back to the business of despising your life.
On the other hand, if you believe the world is full of both intense pain and unbelievable joy, that people are good and kind and capable of limitless love and the potential for growth and change, that’s also going to affect the way you move through the world and interact with the people you encounter. Because you’re coming from a loving place, you’ll be spreading love, and you’ll find the world will rise up and meet you there, too. So if we take the time and make the effort to heal the worlds within ourselves, we can contribute to the world around us in a very positive way, but that does not mean that horrendous things won’t happen to good people and it isn’t because these good people called this stuff into their lives, or believed it’s what they deserved spiritually. We could talk about Karma and karmic debt, but those are ideas and beliefs and they won’t comfort everyone, and you know, that’s really what I want to do with my time here. Division is not going to get the job done. If we could pare it down to simply this: we are all human beings on planet earth, and we are all equally miraculous, and not a single one of us knows for sure what happens after this, then we’re getting somewhere. Then we can look each other in the eyes and say, “Isn’t this something? Isn’t this an insanely vulnerable state we’re in? And as such, couldn’t we love each other a bit more and let go of our need to condemn, justify, control or judge?”
We’ve lost the plot. I’m pretty sure the story is, “How Much Can You Love?”, and maybe we need to define the terms, too. Love is not controlling or manipulative or conditional — love is going to love. Whether the story unfolds like we wrote it in our heads, or pinned it on our vision boards, or were told it would from the time we could think. Love is going to love regardless. If the person you adore is walking out the door, and everything in you is breaking, love is going to love. You already know that because you’ve been through it. When you called that person names and told every single person in your life the story of how you’d been wronged, you did that because you were still loving. When you couldn’t eat or couldn’t sleep or couldn’t figure out how you were going to get out of bed and take that shower and make that breakfast and put one foot in front of the other until you were out the door and in the car and on your way into a day you could hardly face, you felt that way because you were still loving. Love makes you vulnerable. Life makes you vulnerable. You can hold onto that. Devote yourself to loving with your whole heart. If someone exits your story, let them go with love. Stay on point. If you are met with the kind of grief that makes it hard to breathe, love gives you a free pass. You do whatever you need to do to get through it. But eventually, come back to love, so you don’t die, too. Life without love is death in a walking body. That’s no way to live. Be a bold artist and paint with your love. That’s the part of the plot you get to control.
Sending you some love right now,