Today I write down my truths. I’m not telling you how to live your life. I’m telling me how to live mine.
Here they are:
- Be present. Be in the moment. Live now, not in the past and not in the future.
- Choose love. Thoughts and actions are governed by fear and love. There is always choice. That choice is not always easy. Still, choose love.
These two maxims are what’s left in the bottom of my pan after a whole lot of roiling and boiling over the past couple of years.
I first heard ‘be present’ in the context of improv theatre, where any improviser will tell you that if you are truly present on-stage and with the other performers and with your audience, that is when the magic will happen.
Then I started seeing and hearing ‘be present’ and ‘be in the moment’ all around me. I started to notice that the things I found beautiful and moving – songs, stories, art – were made with great presence and with love.
This song by Amanda Palmer is an example of what I mean:
Another way of saying ‘be present’ is to say ‘accept where you are right now’. Stop churning. Just be.
I’m not suggesting the world is all smiling raindrops and happy teddybears. A lot of stuff is really hard and dark and tough. It’s ok to feel sad and angry and bitter. Don’t let those feelings consume you. Allow yourself to experience the heavy stones of heartache and loss and then choose not to let them sink you. Let the fear and the pain go and choose love.
When I say ‘love’ I mean empathy and compassion. Love is not just what you give to those you have chosen in your life, like your partner and your friends, although that is a good place to start. Love is also what you give those you have not chosen in your life. Those people might be your family. Or those people might be people you clash with in someway, who hate you because of what you represent or what you do. You might feel angry and frustrated and envious of them.
Giving love to that second group of people is much harder. I’m not very good at this part. I get judgey and I get angry and I hold the judgement and anger between my teeth and in my throat and I go over it again and again, reinforcing why I am right and they are wrong. I use words like ‘if only’ and ‘they should’. I close my throat and my chest.
This is what I want to do instead:
High Country Weather
Alone we are born
And die alone;
Yet see the red-gold cirrus
Over snow mountain shine.
Along the upland road
Ride easy, stranger:
Surrender to the sky
Your heart of anger.
– J. K. Baxter
Anyway, this is a little note to myself. I will refer to this in those tricky times. And also I will refer to this horde of puppies: