For most of my life, I have thought the purpose of said life was to find joy. Life is about happiness, and seeking happiness and finding happiness and, in my case, hunting down happiness and wrangling it like the bear it is, trying to force march it back to camp with me.
Yoga has calmed this to some extent, teaching me how to breathe through pain, that whatever level I’m on is the level I’m on no judgment. Yoga isn’t about joy or happiness, yoga is about breathing through whatever comes, about accepting yourself and accepting the moment.
Meditation takes this to the next level.
I once described my mind during meditation like this:
In 10 minutes of meditation my mind can escape me thousands of times. The task of recognizing it has lost its way, lassoing it and bringing it back to the present—that’s hard work.
It is hard work.
But what I’m realizing now, almost a year later, is that, once again, that was just the beginning approach. The better approach is leaving the lasso at home, leaving the extreme verbs and the aggression that I love so much, and gently bringing my focus back.
The better approach is seeing my thoughts go by and observing them without judgment. Pain isn’t bad. Joy isn’t good. I don’t need to go chasing after love or serenity, or jumping in front of hurt or sadness. I need observe them all, and when I get distracted by one, gently bring my mind back.
Even that is without judgment. I don’t beat myself up for getting distracted–I just come back.
I love the video above that so perfectly illustrates this.
My mind, for the majority of my life, has been me chasing after cars and trying to halt cars and generally standing in the middle of a huge car wreck traffic jam wondering why all my efforts aren’t working.
I FREAKING CHASED DOWN JOY LIKE AN OLYMPIC RUNNER, OK? WHY DON’T I HAVE IT?
I TRIED TO STOP THAT PAIN USING SHEER FORCE OF WILL, ALL RIGHT? WHY AM I STILL A MESS?
This is what I’ve realized now, or what I think today.
That’s the, excuse me, joy, of blogging, isn’t it? To find the words for a specific day in my life and then to look back and say, oh wait, those aren’t true for me anymore.
This is what’s true now.
What is true for me today is that I’m learning to let my thoughts go by without judgment. Joy isn’t the be-all-end-all. Pain isn’t the worst thing in the world. I don’t need to avoid or seek either with all my energies, because life will give me both. I need to sit back as they come to me and accept that they are coming.
The purpose of life, I think, is love. Not romantic love go chase it down in on the freeway of life, love, but simply loving what you have. Loving through joy or pain or serenity. Loving yourself when you forget and jump into traffic yet again. Gently loving yourself back.
Grace, I suppose.
That’s my word for the year.
I’ve never understood it, really, and I guess I don’t fully now, but this is what I do know.
Grace is that moment when all is dark and you go outside for a walk.
Grace is allowing yourself to be imperfect, loving yourself anyway. Writing even though you know it will be terrible. Forgiving yourself for that. Forgiving over and over–even, and especially when you don’t deserve it.
As Anne Lamott says, grace bats last.
It’s a big word, a complicated word, a word I’m still unpacking.
But the other day, while I was talking to someone and getting angry that they weren’t responding how I wanted I had the thought, “Give them grace.”
It’s seeped into my internal dialogue and it’s seeped into my life.
More grace, please.
Perhaps that’s the purpose of it all.