As I was thinking about this post, I was watching "Shirley Valentine", a movie about a 40-something woman who impetuously decided to live her life, as opposed to the life that had moved in and taken over her months and years. There was a line in the movie that perfectly captured what I had been thinking about in regards to my own life. "I fell in love with the idea of living."
As I deliberately considered what in my life needed to be chucked out with the garbage, I also began to muse on what needed to be embraced and welcomed in. The answer that came back to me was the word PLEASURE. Pleasure in all of its forms, large or small, lasting or transitory. And I recognize that, for me at least, this has to be a conscious choice that is made over and over each day until it becomes the norm rather than the exception in my life.
Some of this can be achieved simply by noticing and appreciating the things that are around me. The flickers and robins that nest near my home. The squirrels that cavort through the trees. The sound of rain as it drips outside my window. The smell of baking, the feel of silk and wool, the gurgle of someone else's baby. All of the free and delightful things that cross my path and don't cost a dime.
Then there are those things that I will make small efforts to welcome in. Getting up early to head into the woods just to see what interesting birds are to be found in that time and place. Eschewing cheap chocolate for the occasional perfect truffle. A glass of wine with a dear friend. A lingering glance and a gentle touch just when it is most needed.
There are also those larger things that I will go full out to hunt down and capture. A satisfying career, the ability to spin fine yarn, a fulfilling relationship and expanded awareness.
I am determined to wake up each morning asking myself the question, "How can I most fully live today?" And equally determined to follow the answer through whatever adventures may present themselves. Some days will give small delights, others will give full blown, mind blowing pleasures. All of them, when approached with awareness, will give something that enhances life as a whole. Some will give pains, it is true, but even those will bring experiences and knowledge that could enhance life further down the road.
I knew a Franciscan friar once who gave a retreat talk that he called his "fantasy of death." In this fantasy, when one dies and goes to heaven, one is nearly tackled and bear-hugged by God. God is so excited to see them and can't stop asking how the experience was and what they liked best, what was their favorite part. And I realize now that I've not focused on my favorite parts at all. It's past time that I got a list of those things going.
So many of us view life as work, a slog, and even suffering, to be gotten through. I know that was the case for me throughout most of my life. But, wouldn't it be better if we viewed it in a different way? Shouldn't we want to be the child we once were, wanting to lick the cake beaters, have one more story, suck down the last drop of juice? We were wiser as children than we are as adults.
Granted the less wonderful things will raise their heads and we will have to deal with them. But they simply must be less draining to those who are living out loud and to the fullest with the intention of living well. I'm determined to find out first hand. If you're trying to find me, it will be easy. I'll be the one standing over there with a huge smile, licking the chocolate of life off my lips. Care to join me?
Teacher Voices: Stewart Matthews - Here's another post in my continuing series on teacher voices. I'm interviewing some of my former students who have gone on to become teachers. In this po...
5 days ago