“Blessed are the poor in spirit.
Blessed are the pure of heart.
For they will be thankful.”
–SexyJesus, Bible Remix
I wake up in the mornings feeling like the most blessed person alive.
That is not ego talking. That is not me saying I’m better than anyone else. I don’t know that I actually am the most blessed person alive. I just feel that way.
Others may not look at me and think I deserve such a label. I have financial concerns. I live in an apartment instead of a house. I cobble jobs together to make a living. I only recently got health insurance. I am a single mother who has her kids only half the time, who would prefer hardwood floors to this shaggy old carpet, who has three piles of laundry waiting to be done.
The people in my life? The quality and character of the people I come into contact with, the people I call in a jam, the people I know? This is a wealth beyond measure, greater than any amount of money, greater than any palace or land I yearn to travel to.
I didn’t always feel this way, of course. Years ago, when I was a stay-at-home mother and wife in a large house with a yard in a nice neighborhood, I spent many days feeling terribly alone, terribly confused and scared. I worried about my lack of career accomplishment, about what I was missing out on by mothering my kids all day and only working part-time. I wanted to write, but I was so tired I often slept instead. I read novel after novel in an effort to escape my life rather than live in it. I thought happiness came at 6 pm, when my husband returned from work and made me a martini and we set out cheese and crackers and ate Marcona almonds. (And that was fun, mind you.)
My life was not bad. It was, in fact, quite beautiful. I just didn’t know how to live it, if that makes sense. I was living it while asleep, caught in the meandering web of my mind, never feeling settled, never knowing what I was looking for, never even knowing how to look.
It is the crises in life that show us who we are, what we’re made of, that bring us back to fullness and reality so we can live better. A crisis, a rocky change, is an opportunity to get mad and figure out what you did that caused suffering so you can make an adjustment for the long haul, so you can go forth and multiply and everything.
And I had a series of crises, so many that, for a while, I steeped myself in self-pity and drowned my cares in alcohol and chili lime cashews (those are tasty), and watched too many episodes of Girls on HBO. (Damn, that show is good.)
But eventually, I had to find my way out of the rocks. Because this is my life. This is it. I have it to live, and I’m going to live it in the best way. I wanted to figure out how. I’m not going to go through it blind and dumb and numb. I’m going to learn, I’m going to keep at it, I’m going to make my way to something better. And that “better” has nothing to do with attaining a bunch of stuff or property. That “better” is recognizing the wealth already within, the wealth around in the form of love, greeting me everywhere, at every step on my path.
That is not just a pretty attitude I write about here, something I say because I heard it said. It is the way I live, a practice I now know in my bones. That knowledge is a consequence of a decade of constant seeking, unfolding, feeling, breaking down and yearning until I found truth.
And I did find truth.
And it will set you free.
I’m not kidding, darling.
It just takes a lot of soul work.
It means that you stop shutting down and trying to escape your life. It means that you set aside time each day—and yes, you do have it—to practice meditation. You sit and breathe. It means that you pay attention to the people who come into your life, what they can teach you. You move into opportunities that may challenge and liberate you instead of fleeing from them. It means you form a relationship with God, with Goddess, with the Great HeShe Creator whose essence is in every thing and every person, who is always sending you a loving message, even in the darkest of times.
In the end, we’re all made the way we’re individually made. We are not meant to be the same. We are just meant to be ourselves. But not some weak, numb, robotic version of ourselves, which is what the culture would push you toward. The self that sits on the couch and scrolls through social media feeds for two hours every night because she’s just “so tired.” The self that sits on the couch and watches program after program on Netflix so she never has to think or process or make amends for what she has or has not done. That self thinks that money and accolade are keys to happiness, that a man or woman is going to sweep in and fix all your problems. I’m talking instead about the fullest, most brilliant, beautiful version of yourself, that doesn’t necessarily look or act like anybody else, but who shares the basic spirit that moves through us all. The self that, through hardship, often gets locked in a cave in your soul, and who yearns to become free, but who is so, so scared that she stays curled up in a ball and lets life happen around her and refuses to see its beauty because she’s been hurt. I’m talking about the brave self who learns, and grows, and discerns, and relies on other people in difficult times and asks for help because the whole point of life is human relationship, is the knowledge that we are interdependent on one another.
If I had never gone through crisis after crisis after crisis, I never would have known how bad it could get, and I would have been more likely to stay numb. If I had never had a crisis, I wouldn’t have discovered the grit inside me that feeds my soul and ushers me on. I wouldn’t have known how strong is my will to live, how strong that will is in us all. And I wouldn’t have known how amazing are the people around me, the people of such kindness and love that in the early morning, as I sit down to write this, move me to tears, I am so grateful.
So don’t give up on your life. Do give in. And by giving in, I mean that you develop a softness, a malleability, a flexibility to move and dance with the challenges of your days, and recognize that’s all life is, really. A dance, with a lot of tempos. It does not have to be an uphill, Sisyphean battle. It may feel that way, sometimes. But in the grand forest of heaven, which is what we live in, there are mountains, and there are valleys, and there are caverns, and there are tall, tall trees who speak to you and usher you home. There are places for shelter and rest, and there are rivers to swim and bathe in.
And you can build campfires. And you can laugh and dance around them with other people. And you can eat and drink fresh water, you can warm your hands with a mug of tea, and take in the glory of earth, and see God, who is God/Goddess/Truth/Beauty/Light.
And you can feel like the most blessed person alive, too.
That is what it’s all about.