I'm laying in my bed, awake, staring at the ceiling. The sun is up and peeking in my blinds. I want my book to focus my mind on something, but it's on the desk. I don't want to disturb the dogs by getting up and getting it.
To want. The implication of lacking or needing something outside the moment, that the moment is not perfect and to accidentally instill a cycle of dependency.
"I want to feel better."
"I want to be healed."
"I want that book."
"I want my mind to be still."
It is perfect, however, this moment. Everything is how and where it should be right now, right here, right in this moment.
I decide to meditate instead of want the book. I lay on my back and tuck the pillow under my knees slightly and place my hands at my sides and close my eyes.
Starting with the top of my head, I think: my mind is still, I am healed, I am healthy, I am open to all possibility, My mind is perfect in this moment. Then I notice my mind starts to wander. It wanders to the way my shaved hair feels under my hair. It notices its own wandering and mirrors that up against the word 'healthy'. It begins to dream imaginary things like my elderly neighbor in the back with the long white braid down her back shoveling dirt over my chain link fence in the notorious corner of my back yard. It is notorious because the ground has seemed to have eaten the fence line here and only two feet of the four foot fence peeks from the dirt, the only illuminated corner of the yard. My mind wanders to the imaginary need to clean the hall bathroom - which in reality was just completed during the past few days - but my eyes look down into the rings in the sink and bathtub. My awareness begins to come back to my body. I notice my forehead, face and nose are relaxed and my skin is cool.
My awareness drifts to my throat, neck, chin and mouth. I feel a lump in my throat. A lump that is becoming more and more familiar to me. I worry, then I think: I am healed, I am healthy, I am open to all possibility, My throat is perfect in this moment... I am healed, I am healthy, I am surrounded by love. My mind walks though its thoughts like a child at the edge of a forest with many paths. It sees the little bowl at the base of my throat where my clavicle meets each other. It feels my esophagus and communicates with the cells that they are loved and happy. It travels up my esophagus to my tongue and my mouth and my mouth remembers so many wonderful kisses. Kisses so luscious like taking big bites from over ripe peaches or nectarines, but so much better. Kisses like connection that embraces your whole self both in this world and in outer space - where your cells expand and contract and you become one with everything. Soft, lovely kisses.
My mind drifts down to my shoulders and collarbone, which I had broken just 19 months ago. My thoughts carry an apology to my collarbone which holds no screws and went under no surgery, but instead found its own way to reunite itself and still awkwardly yet discreetly protrudes upward slightly. My mind focuses it's thoughts: I am healed, I am healthy, I feel good and strong. I am healed. I am healthy. I am thankful.
My abdomen begins to call for attention and my mind drifts to the area around my stomach: I am healed, I am healthy. I feel the same knot in my stomach as I did in my throat. I am healed. My stomach is perfect in this moment. My stomach is healed, it is healthy. My mind wanders off to the conversation I had with my friend last night. I had said I needed to lose twenty pounds after returning from the ladies room at the bar. While I was in there, I squeezed all the fat on my waist. About two inches, I gleaned. Ten pounds per inch, I thought. I gained weight. All the beer probably. Man, I love good beer. I've been eating pretty well, however: lots of vegetables and smoked salmon and tofu. My lifestyle has changed. My body is transforming. My friend says, You do not need to lose twenty pounds! I need to lose ten pounds, so you do not need to lose twenty!
My mind becomes aware of my hips. I feel my mind say: I am healed, I am healthy, my hips are perfect in this moment, this moment is every moment, every moment is now, I am healed, I am healthy, I am present. My mind sees my body riding the bicycle and walking the dogs and jogging and streeeettttcccchhhhinnngggg these hips in yoga class. My mind searches the veins for rapid circulation and speeds it along. Then to soften the muscles in my legs and rear to allow opening, relaxation and good health. I remember the dance floor. I hear the blues grinding on the axe. I am shuffling around, twisting my hips. The lights are blue and purple. The music is good.
I go into darkness for a little while. I dream. I float. When I emerge, my awareness goes to my knees. I say: My knees are healthy, my knees are healed. I travel inside my skin under my patella and fluff the cartilage like a pillow. I press the circulation to bring oxygen and vitalization to my knees.
I feel my calves from my mind with a gentle scan. My legs are healed. My legs are healthy. I am thankful of my legs.
I scan my feet. I feel my arches and my joints and the pads of my feet. My feet are healed. My feet are healthy. My mind produces my lacrosse ball to roll around in my arches. Thumbs press my pads. Hands wrap around and squeeze these feet that carry me everywhere. There is no want. There is only this moment. This moment all the time. What am I doing in this moment? I reflect is what I need to ask to check in with myself. All the moments are connected, as I am connected to the moments.
It is many moments later.
Now that is in the past.
Now, I have my books here at the table with me and I am ready to read. The dogs are up. I have my coffee. My body which contains me feels good. Want is a choice and there is no want - only connected moments to pay close attention to.
I am sitting at the table outside listening to the birds as I type and the dogs are keeping a mighty eye out for squirrels in the single large oak tree that sits in the middle of the yard that is so large it shades me, shades the house and shades the whole yard - minus the one notorious illuminated corner.
When I think about what I am full time every day all day, I am a mom. I may not be the best mom in the world, but it is the one constant in my life and it’s one big part of who I am. When I think about my health, my vision, my life and where I’m going to put my energy, it is always with the kids in mind - whether those rug rats know it or not. And, believe me, they will doubt you. If you're a parent, you know what I mean.
How can I stay balanced? How can I encourage them? How can I give them space? How can I be strong for them? All of these questions float about in the background while my body does my day to day life activities.
Everyone wants to be happy. Sort of. It’s complicated, right? I mean, we all think we want to be happy ... until we sabotage the happiness, that is. Probably because we’re either A. shortsighted or B. undecided about how to define happiness for ourselves.
Taking a cue from a Harvard Grant study, which followed 268 male undergraduates for 75 years, collecting data along the away. The study found that the two pillars of happiness are love and “finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away,” according to director George Vaillant.
Vaillant is an interesting study himself as well. Ambitious. Married 4 times at last count. Complicated. Thinker. Respectful. Disrespectful. A contradiction. A manipulator. A hurt boy. A student and expert in psychiatry and psychology.
I could go on. For a while there I felt like I may have been describing myself. Isn’t that what happens to us when we get older and live through more experiences though? I mean... if we’re lucky. I’m not manipulative, however. Not smart enough. And I’m obviously not a hurt boy. But we all do have that kid inside us - some of those kids more traumatized than others. His was pretty traumatized. And I would never want to trivialize the subject.
The interesting thing about the study result is that second part: “finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.” A friend of mine said “coping” made it sound like work, like it wasn’t really a very happy thing.
Granted the economy of words is typical of the field of research reporting. Taking that with a grain of salt and expanding on it by unpacking what that really means is where the heart of it is, however.
If we were to take a barebones definition of the word ‘cope’, we would sense the emotionless word to convey to us that it is to manage, to survive. Add that to a sentence regarding the concept of ‘love’ and it seems, well, lacking. Reposition the definition slightly to have it mean, ‘to have the capacity to deal successfully with’, and the whole feeling of the word to ‘cope’ changes. Words become ideas: to have the capacity; successfully. These are concepts we can get closer to emotionally. They create desire. Sounds way better than mere survival and management. Who wants to merely manage love?
If I were to unpack the idea of coping a tad further, making it really a personal interpretation, I would say it is exactly the right word to use in the report. After all, this is indeed what we do. Every day. We find ways to cope. Imagine a sliding dynamic multidimensional scale. On some ends, life is easy. On some ends life is difficult. The difficult end is going to be the more interesting end. An array of challenges get thrown at us - even if we were to gear this diagram only to focus on the subject of love. For some, challenge number one could just accepting that they are lovable. For others, it could be balancing personal ambitions with holding onto and protecting the love they found. For others, it could be that they haven’t really even unpacked the word love for themselves yet in the first place. And yet for most, maybe, it is how to get over power struggles in an interpersonal relationship.