One of the many gifts of writing this blog is that it asks me to be aware – of how I feel, what I think, and what’s going on around me. The truth is, when all is going well – when I get what I expected or wanted or better – I breeze right through, with nary a thought.
For example, a Friday morning early in March was moving along quite routinely. Dog and cat fed, coffee made, I snuggled into my studio to write. About mid-morning, the doorbell rang unexpectedly, prompting Dakota and me to jump – me out of my chair and him up on his feet from a deep sleep.
I could say we raced down the stairs, but that would not be true. There was no race, he always gets there first and there is only one question: “Who rang the doorbell?” With my thoughts still in the studio, and my hand opening the door, Dakota rushed outside.
I have no idea how long I stood motionless, blinking my eyes wondering “Is this a dream?” There stood my daughter, smiling like a Cheshire cat. “Surprise!! Happy Birthday Mom!” Totally unexpected. Fully wanted. Easy. Breezy. Perfect.
Like days flowing into nights, life has a natural cadence of new beginnings and endings. So, too, it was for the weekend – Friday quickly flowed through Saturday and directly into Sunday – when it was time for my daughter to return home. Expected, yes. Wanted? Not so much.
Standing at the entrance of airport security, the joy of being together sang through our voices; and the sadness of her leaving seeped through our quiet tears. We got in lots of hugs and all the words that could be spoken - “Loved every minute of it…”See you soon…Love you.”
The part of life I’ve deemed to be “unwanted”, even when it’s expected, takes my breath away. And I wonder, what do I do with all of it? Sadness, anxiety, worry, frustration… the emotions I’ve banished to the shadows…hoping to avoid their hold.
Masaru Emoto, in his book The Hidden Messages in Water, shares an experiment in which families put rice in 3 different jars. Every day they say “I love you” to the 1st jar. To the 2nd, they say “You fool.” To the 3rd? They ignore it, saying nothing. Then, they watch the rice to see what happens.
My initial thought was that the rice given the energy of “I love you” would thrive. The one given the negative energy would rot. And the ignored rice would just hang out. But that is not what happened. Time and time again, the ignored rice rotted first.
Emoto’s conclusion? “To give your positive or negative attention to something is a way of giving energy. The most damaging form of behavior is withholding your attention.” This is true for rice and for ourselves and our feelings.
It takes great courage to create an inner circle, that embraces the full range of our emotions. It takes practice to honor our wanted and unwanted experiences. And it takes time to acknowledge all of our feelings, not as rivals, but as unique part of our wholeness.
Laughing is as natural as crying. Wondering how a project will turn out or when we’ll see a loved one again create a tension between worry and knowing that all is well. And the intensity between frustration and curiosity when we want something to work moves us forward to new possibilities.
What’s my conclusion? It’s a gift to say “Yes” to the full range of my emotional being. In doing so, I become intimate with life, like a drop of water in the river – passing over every rock, rushing through the rapids, taking an extra moment in a quiet pool – each, only once – in a fleeting moment – on my journey.
On the way home from the airport on Sunday evening, I breathed deeply. My emotions reminded me that I know deep within my being what it is like to be a mom. I know how it feels to love and let go. And I know life’s deep beckoning, calling me and my daughter forward to life’s wholeness.
The expected and unexpected. The wanted and unwanted. The range of thought and emotions. These are the gifts of life.
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize that is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” Lao-Tsu.
Thank you for reading,