Last spring I met a man on a ship who, when we were discussing parenting, said, “If I could give my children two things, it would be to teach them meditation and speedreading. That way they could never sleep and learn everything.”
I’ve thought about it a lot. I am a seeker of knowledge. At one time this winter I was listening to Coursera lectures on Modern Mysticism in Europe, Morality in Everyday Life , Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and the beginning of a class on Soul Beliefs. At the same time, I was trying to catch up on some old Psychology lectures from the fall.
I get what I have done to myself. I have changed my daily walks from a time of contemplation to minutes and hours filled with distraction…albeit good information. What I notice is that after years of walking without earbuds, I am a bit thrown off if I don’t have anything that entertains me. My already busy mind has taken on new dimensions.
I realize that it is my personality* to want to do it all. It is difficult for me to make priority decisions because everything is captivating. I hate missing out. F.O.M.S. (Fear of Missing Something) is my middle name.
At this time in my life my best learning is probably not from college professors. And I may not need that stack of books by my bed. What I need is to practice what I have already learned. I need to practice love, thoughtfulness, tolerance, compassion, empathy,
What I need is stillness. Perhaps if I learned that well, I could share it with my children.
*Couple a Gemini with an Enneagram 7 and you have a peripatetic ball of activity.
“Since death is certain, but the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?” Pema Chodron
I am always out of control. Yet I cling to the illusion of a life that I can delineate. I set intentions. I make plans. And then life happens.
My younger daughter was seriously ill in the hospital after a few critical days of pneumonia and septic shock. She’s better now, and I can breathe.
And I have a reminder that I do not maintain order in my life although I am the beneficiary of it at times. I can plan, I can organize, I can get involved in daily routines that feel vitally important. I can consider myself indispensable and worry about everything from keeping appointments to putting healthy meals on the table.
Poof…it all disappears as I sit for hours in a hospital chair, mindless of what was compelling a few hours ago.
I no longer care if the leftover chicken rots and the clothes heap up in the laundry room. I skip my morning routines to make sure my daughter has a healthy smoothie when she wakes in the morning. My hair begins to stand on end and I look down to discover a spot on my jacket that a week before would have embarrassed me. Now I idly examine it, wondering what and when without much interest. Mirrors are not a reality for the moment.
It is another reminder to seek what is important in my life. Another reason to drop form and look for substance. A recognition that uncertainty is a way to practice acceptance. And that acceptance is letting go of control.
“… happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself…” Viktor E. Frankl
This sounds like a core value and truth to me. The pursuit of happiness takes me down blind alleys of disappointment.
I have long known myself to be a purpose-driven person. I seek meaningful thought or action every day of my life. This brings me hours of what I would call contentment and mements of joy. That is happiness enough for me.
I can tell myself that my means escapism, numbing, resistance and avoidance are ways of taking me from my real life in an attempt to make myself happy. I know better, even as I am in such states.
And so I go back to my equation: meaning = happiness.