Sunday, November 4, 2012

Compassion and acts of kindness - Happiness task for Nov

So, doing things differently has been a great success.  It feels good to challenge myself not to succumb to a routine.  There have been some side effects, like... I'm sure you've noticed that my blogging schedule has been disrupted.  I'm trying to write here when I have something to say, not simply because I feel like I have to churn out updates or all of my readers will disappear.  I'm sure that my "stats" have suffered over the past month, but I mean... why am I doing this?  Because I want to collect a bunch of something?  I want to write here when it feels like the right thing to do.  Breaking my routine helped me to understand that.  So, hopefully, you're still here with me.

Hi, by the way.  I appreciate you.

So, choosing different ways to spend my time has helped me in a lot of ways.  It's been fun.  It's helped me to be more mindful.  It's inspired some deeper thinking.  I've started taking yoga classes and I got off of the elliptical.  I've liked it.  It also feels like it isn't even remotely the beginning to becoming a happier person.

This month, I was going to start meditating in the morning and at night.  That was going to be my happiness task, but, I keep coming back to a feeling that real happiness has more to do with other people than with searching for something inside myself.  I will definitely try meditating, but right now... thinking of piling on another me-centered task doesn't quite feel right, the way that compassion and acts of kindness do.

Since my happiness tasks are meant to be added on to, instead of abandoned at the end of each month in favor of a new one, it seems like a better idea to me to work on being kind to others, before I try to dive into trying to be kinder to myself.  I've been focusing on myself, my whole life.

So, that's my theme for this month.  Practicing compassion and performing acts of kindness.  I'll hope you'll join me and come up with billions of wonderful ways to make people feel good.  Share them with me.  I hope you will.

The thing, for me, is that I don't think I have happiness somewhere inside of me, waiting to be tapped into.  I don't think that looking inward is where I need to start.  (God knows I look inward probably the most out of anybody in the world.)  I am very invested in examining myself; my motivations, my behavior, my thoughts, my fears, my actions.  I think I need to begin, right now, with kind of letting go a little bit.  I can trust myself enough to let go.

This month is meant to be a practice in turning my gaze outward.  I am aware that I have talents and abilities and arms and legs that could all be serving someone else.  I could surprise you, if I tried.  I could make you smile.  I could be actively kind, instead of settling for simply doing no harm.

Something important is that I could be getting my kids involved in helping, also.  I could be teaching them that, as people, as women, they are capable of so much good.  They are amazing.  They could do amazing things in the lives of people who need amazing things pretty badly.

People need amazing things, desperately.  We're losing ourselves, getting buried and drowning.  We're afraid and sad and amputated.  We don't feel beautiful; we don't feel that the world is beautiful.  It is an act of bravery to believe in beauty.  Even the concept of love has become, for us, a thing of anxiety.  What if something terrible happens?  What if my child suffers?  What if I lose the things I love?  What if I am lost to those who love me?

Here is what I want, in a perfect dream born of all the light and hope inside of me:  I want to say, What if something amazing happens?  What if it happens because of me, because we all die and lose things, and I am not afraid of that?  We are also all born, and I wasn't afraid of that, either. 

I am more afraid of my life slipping through cracks made by worry and "what ifs."  I am more afraid that the people who love me are losing me already, because I am too afraid to live my life, to be what I really am, under all of the defenses and conventions that have piled onto me.  I am too afraid to be vulnerable, to love with my entire being, to love boundlessly, in ways that reach into the darkest and forgotten places in the world.  I do not need to hoard my love and ration it in clumsy handfuls under the shadow of fear that there won't be enough.  I do not need to stuff it into the arms of my children, telling them to run and hold on to it tight.

The thing is that I believe in love like I believe in surgery and biology.  I believe the gulls and their dances on the sand.  I believe we are built, as animals, to love.  I believe that love fixes things, it grows, when it is encouraged and allowed.  I do not have to save it for my only ones.  It does not become concentrated in my fists.  My love is bigger than concept.  It is bigger than my sweet girls with their pink cheeks and their bodies warm, next to me.  It is bigger than I am wed.  It is bigger than my sister and her child.  I have no way to imagine all the good my love could do, if I could somehow become brave enough to set it free.

So, that's what I want to do.  I want to swell and pound and grow.  I want to live with an unwieldy, growing creature of love inside of me, one so giant and bright that it pours out of my fingertips and shoots from the ends of my hair.  I want it to take me everywhere I am meant to go.  I want my love to create avenues, and lakes and cities, to heal wounds and lift the dampening of fear that has settled over my life, over the world.

This is my new task.  I am going to run with it.

Love isn't Love Until You Give it Away