What I am is what I am until I am not

Most of my greatest ideas come to me either in the shower or while I’m drying my hair.

As do some of the most confounding philosophical dilemmas.

Today in the shower, I found my mind starting to spin towards that place called:

What is my purpose?

I started wondering, “Is this who I am supposed to be? Is this what I am supposed to be doing?”

I started to feel concern that I wasn’t acting fast enough or prudent enough or being selfish or selfless enough.

I started to panic a little. And then I got angry. Resentful.

And then…only a few minutes later, as I was towel drying my hair… I broke free.

It was a miracle.  Usually, once I get started, my mind will spin out of control in that direction for a lot longer than a ten minute shower.

How did I break free?

Well, a few years ago, I bought a book on CD by Byron Katie. I’ve since lent it out and didn’t get it back so I can’t tell you which one it was. But they tend to overlap a bit, and choosing to listen to one of her books or attend one of her lectures is definitely worth the time.

My biggest takeaway from this Byron Katie CD was a smart, no-nonsense philosophical concept about reality that I am able to return to again and again:

If you were meant to be something, you would be.

Right now. In this moment.

This isn’t a bunch of spiritual mumbo jumbo.

It’s fact.

It makes a lot of sense, which is why I so easily latch on to it.

Think about it.

If I was meant to be something, or someone, I would be.

Now.

Already.

Since I am not that someone or something, clearly I am not meant to be that.

At least, not for now.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that I will never be that something or someone.

And it doesn’t mean I can’t or shouldn’t work towards being that something or someone, if it feels right to me.

If think it’s, indeed, “my purpose.”

It just means I am not meant to be that something or someone right now.

And that, for some reason, is very liberating.

I reminded myself of this as I was drying my hair.

I shook my shoulders a little bit. I smiled at myself in the mirror.

I thought of who I am right now. (Who I am, clearly, meant to be.)

And how I never in a million years could have imagined this version of me only 10 or 15 years ago.

Who did I imagine myself then?

Am I her now?

Not even close.

And perhaps, someone, or something, even better than I ever could have imagined I was meant to be.

Stuck in Your Throat

Your silence is a cover-up.

It’s a conspiracy between you and the way you think people see you.

Your silence is a ruse.

It’s a simple means of getting from here to there.

Avoiding an accident.

Your silence is a hushed conversation between you and yourself.

It’s a promise.

It’s a plan in the making.

It’s a vendetta.

Your silence is silent until it’s loud.

And then BOOM.

Destruction.

Why are you silent in the face of men who care not if you smile or frown, stay or go, live or die?

Why is your silence, then, in front of them, so valuable? Such a commodity?

Why are you loud in the face of children whose only desires lie in pleasing you?

Why is your silence, then, in front of them, so rare? Out of stock?

Stuck deep down in your throat are all the things you want to say

But you are silent

Anger rages like a river, swirling whirlpools in your throat you swallow.

Until a tidal wave of release

Drowns the ones you love.

We’re all gonna die!

What do you think causes the majority of our existential angst?

A. Knowing we’re going to die (and not wanting to)

B. Not knowing exactly when we will die

C. Not knowing exactly how we will die

D. All of the above?

I struggle with all of the above.

But today I was having a conversation with myself that went like this:

Let’s say we are somehow able to accept we will die.

Not just understand it intellectually, but actually accept it.

And let’s say, by some magical twist, we are able to learn exactly when and how we will die…

Would we really live our life any differently than we do today?

And, what would World Order look like then?

(I don’t really talk to myself in the third person, by the way.)

There is a phrase:

live_each_day_

But the essential problem with that advice is that gleefully dancing as if nobody’s watching is not really an option if the machine is to keep running.

Quite the contrary, living each day as if it’s not our last is what allows us to pack the school lunches and separate the laundry and spend an hour with the accountant without feeling as if our life is completely pathetic.

We count on tomorrow being better.

= = = =

Most of us live –because we must — as if we have an endless supply of days.

And, yet, we’re terrified each and every day because we know that we don’t.

That is quite a quandary.

No one wants to be a machine.

Yet no one feels comfortable abandoning everything and everyone so they may live their last day every day.

This is the majority of our existential angst:

Finding the absolute perfect balance between living your last day and living as if you have an endless supply.

I’m happy and I know it … clap your hands

I giggle.

I work hard to make others giggle.

I dream…and enjoy analyzing my dreams.

I engage on social media.

I innovate (at work)

I create (at home)

I write.

I share my writing with others.

I bake cookies.

I surprise the people I love with small treats or notes.

I want to be around people.

I want to know them.

I want to learn more about them.

I want to discover what we have in common and how we can help each other.

I sing.

I kiss my husband.

I take beautiful pictures.

Or silly ones.

Mr. Sunglasses Face

This isn’t a list of the things that make me happy.

It’s a list of ways I know that I am happy.

That life is working for me.

These are ways I know I am doing what is required to care for myself so that my life is one I enjoy … or, at least, feel reasonably satisfied by.

Often times, we think  — if we think at all — about the things that make us happy.

Ice cream.

Sex.

Vacation.

Money.

Baseball.

Air conditioning.

We make mental or actual lists of all the things we need in our life in order to be happy. Or we delineate end goals or possessions we are convinced will make us happier if only we reach them or one day have them.

Better job.

Better wife.

A baby.

Older kids.

A degree.

More sleep.

More quiet.

Less stress.

And while some of us are good at being grateful for what we have– and even acknowledging the good in our life — I don’t often hear from my inner voice listing off the ways I know I am happy now.

Right now.

Or what happy looked like back when it colored my life.

What does happy look like?

Who are you when you’re happy?

If we don’t know what happy looks like, how will we ever get there?

I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that my happy evidence is somewhat missing from the scene.

This was a red alert for me to DO SOMETHING.

So I started thinking about my list.

The list of things that act as evidence that I am happy.

And I started doing those things.

Even though I wasn’t yet happy.

And today, I’m happier.

(I didn’t say HAPPY.)

But

I’m writing.

I’m baking.

I’m spending time with real live human beings.

And engaging a little with the imaginary real live human beings on my screen.

What does happy look like for you?

How will you …

How do you…

recognize it?