My soul, she is quiet. My soul and I, we stood at the edge of the water. We read NOVELS. We colored in our mandala coloring books. We watched the little girl do 18,000 cartwheels and 4,767 splits. We sat in total silence.
It was totally blissful.
For about…..five minutes.
And then, do you know what happened? EVEN AT THE BEACH?????
Well, my crazytown brain happened. My cacophonous, cranky, anxious mind reared its crotchety little head.
Hmm, something smells like dog. Why does it smell like dog? It is it the cushions? Is it ME?
Mmmm,,, ahhh,,, silence, bliss…….aw shit I have to make another meal in another few hours, and I just MADE a meal. It’s so unfair! Things are stacked against me! I can’t take it! MEALS!
No, honey, I don’t want to watch another trick– no stop, I’m trying to read so my soul can be peaceful– LEAVE ME ALONE FOR TWO SECONDS!!!
On and on and on. My mind is like a whiny toddler, but it is also like an angry resentful teenager. And it is also like the nursing home patient who doesn’t remember your name but wants her diaper changed RIGHT NOW and also wants to tell you that your hair is just awful.
Even at the beach, my mind doesn’t quiet down for very long.
I had a revelatory conversation with a friend recently, where we were talking about bliss and joy and happiness. I was mentioning some of the things that help me so much– cups of tea, and looking at flowers, and orgasms, and dancing to really loud music– and she said, “Well I do those things, and I do feel better for a few minutes, but then I go back to feeling the way I was.”
And I suddenly had a horrible, horrible realization.
She continued. ”I know it’s different for you. It makes you happy all the time.”
OHMYGOD. This whole time, she thought I meant that when those things make me happy, then I floated through the rest of the week, or at least the rest of the day, on a cloud of blissful peace, trailing rainbows and happy dust behind me.
And that could not be further from the truth.
Those things DO make me happy! They fill me with joy, bliss, even ecstasy. But it doesn’t last for days or even hours.
Even after a great massage, my mind will be tempted to settle back into a pit of sadness and despair. Even after a fabulous orgasm, my mind will remind me that I haven’t had sex with another human in years. Even after a comforting sip of tea, my mind frets that we have SO MUCH WORK to do.
But that’s okay! It doesn’t mean I’m broken. It doesn’t mean I’m doing things wrong. It just means that my mind, it needs a little help. It needs naps and structure and lots and lots of gentle reminders to tie its own shoes. I have to keep deliberately choosing joy, minute by minute by minute.
I don’t float through my days in a constant state of bliss. I’ve just learned the art of turning toward joy– again and again and again.
As in, literally, every few minutes. I want to be very clear about this. So okay if I’m honest, sometimes I have to do it several times a minute.
I always thought happiness would be like pulling back an arrow and letting it fly. Aim carefully, and then watch it hurtle unerringly toward its mark! Nope. It’s more like riding a bike: you don’t stop pedaling, or you’ll fall over.
And now I have some very important and accurate scientific information for you about space shuttles.
It turns out that space shuttles are off course 99% of the time!!!! I totally made up that number, but you get the idea! The astronauts are all like,
“Oh shit, we’re thirteen degrees too far to the left,”
and ground control goes,
“Okay, course correcting, Major Tom,”
and then they zoom along merrily for about twenty seconds until
“Awww crappers now we’re too far to the right!!!!”
and so they course correct again, and they do this inefficient-looking little zigzag the whole way there.
(That depiction is 100% accurate. I totally speak NASA.)
But in spite of the seeming inefficiency in this approach, the space shuttle still GETS THERE.
And that’s how it is for me and my clients and all the most enlightened, amazing people I know– no one sets their course to ‘bliss’ or ‘joy’ or ‘fulfillment’ and just sails along for several years, or even hours.
It’s more like walking a very narrow and winding path through a big smelly swamp. You fall in the shit a bunch of times, and you end up in the weeds every few minutes, and a mosquito lands on your nose every ten seconds.
But that doesn’t matter. That’s TOTALLY NORMAL.
The important part is that when you realize you’ve veered off course– you run into swamp grass, say, or Saturn suddenly looks alarming large– you just course correct.
You set your eyes again on where you wanted to go, and start walking that way.
And when you do that again and again and again, in tiny tiny ways, you’ll find you’re getting where you want to go.
In other news, I have something really fun coming your way in a few weeks. Keep your eyes peeled. I’ll warn you: it’s a mite SCANDALOUS. I can hardly wait.