Dusk to dawn

There is something quite beautiful about melancholy that is somewhat difficult to explain.

It can be hard for people to understand that about me, since I am generally a very happy and positive person, but I too have my moments. When a bout of melancholy strikes I have learned to see the beauty in it, to stretch out in to the vast expanse of darkness that melancholy tends to bring and explore the edges of my own thoughts, my own emotions.

Melancholy is much like the dusk; she arrives at the end of a bright sunny day and she imbues the sky with rich, deep colors that precede the night. There is beauty in melancholy, for it is the tinge of sadness that makes the colors of happiness even more precious, more beautiful. Yes, the night that follows such dusk can be dangerous if delved in to quite deeply but we all know that dawn is imminent on the horizon, ready to bring back the sun with it. Dawn doesn’t chase away the darkness per se; she kisses it, gently at first, allowing the dark to begin its retreat before the sky gives way to the sun’s full glory.

Yes, melancholy is a beautiful thing. A song that pulls at the corners of our hearts and minds, reminding us of loves lost; times of the year that remind us of childhood years gone by. Melancholy reminds us to appreciate the beauty of what we have in the now, because life is change and things do not remain the same.

Actions speak louder than words. Actions…speak……louder……than….words….?

What this expression is often used to mean overlooks the fact that words in and of themselves are an action. The act of expression. The act of speaking one’s mind; of putting thoughts and feelings out there, giving them a life of their own.

Words are needed for us to communicate; they are needed for us to define who we are, and what we want, and how we perceive the world around us. Without words, we are lost. It is the greatest action of all, the act of expression. Why else would we have invented so many of them, in so many different languages and dialects, with such a wide array of characters to define them, print them out for the world? If gestures and grunts were enough, we never would have worked so hard to come up with all these ways to express ourselves.

Our words shape the world around us. So many times, the power of words come back up from the past to remind us of this: I have a dream; I love you; I don’t love you like that anymore; you’ve put on some weight; you need to do something about those eyebrows; I can’t; I thought; why. From the greatest moments to the most banal, words have power and they echo throughout our lives in unexpected ways.

So often this power is taken for granted, because words are so commonplace in our lives that we lose sight of the impact they have. It’s easy to forget that one word can change a day, a life. The saddest loss is when we have no more words for each other. When we stop communicating, because we feel there is no point…when we would rather keep our words to ourselves, thinking that it is better than not being understood…how profoundly sad these moments are…

We are as strong as our words, and we should choose them carefully for their power and might, just like our own, is greater than we can imagine.

Looking back, moving forward.

Yes, I have fallen off the face of the Earth in regards to my blog (and even journal writing) for the last few weeks. No point in feeling guilty or beating myself up for it though, just pick up where I left off and keep going.

Which brings me to a thought that I contemplate often, and that has been on my mind a lot as of late; nostalgia, looking back, being present, and moving forward vs anticipating what is coming.

Thanks to a wonderful college professor, Ana Luszczynska, the post-modern thought regarding nostalgia in society has been firmly planted in my brain for a decade now and I often come back to it, especially when I find myself frustrated at the nostalgia of others. Yes, I know that sounds harsh. It probably is; I can be somewhat harsh when it comes to looking at the world through rose colored glasses. Being positive in life about yourself, your path and humanity is different than looking back at times gone by and thinking how things were ‘better’ back then. Nostalgia is a trap. When we get caught up in those details that our hearts hold dear within our memory banks, we forget about all the other circumstances that surrounded the moment in time we are fondly looking back upon.

The truth is, in the past there were good times and there were bad, just as the same holds true in our present and will continue to be in the future. Life isn’t perfect, it never has been and never will be. How would we learn if everything was handed to us on a silver platter?

There is nothing wrong with looking back at our past, fond of the good times, and aware of the bad to therefore inform us in our present. Accept the good times for what they were, when they were; don’t attach so much to the feeling/memory/moment, that you lose sight of the good things which currently surround you.

I feel like anticipating the future is often fraught with the same kind of thing; we get tied up in dreading the worst, or imagining only the best, that we lose sight of the right now. We cannot control the future, and thinking about it too much is truly an act of futility. Making plans of what we would like to see come to fruition is a wonderful human trait that can give us hope, but if we pin all our hopes on what we imagine the future to be we are often setting ourselves up for disappointment and even failure. In life many of the best things that happen to us are unforeseeable, and we often aren’t even immediately aware of the impact they have upon our lives.

To me, moving forward means being present while still informed of the past, all the while being aware that our actions and thoughts are forming the path to our future.

I don’t dwell in the past, but I know that what happened before has made me who I am today. I enjoy each moment as it comes and am conscious of the fact that each joy and each pain is as fleeting as the past was, and I know that whatever is to come will be part of this great lesson called life. This makes me confident of my path, even as I am unaware of what will unfold as I continue upon it.

And at the end of all this, I have to say that I owe an ocean of gratitude to the woman who sparked all these thoughts 10 years ago; thank you Ana.

February 16
We are seeking wholeness, not perfection.

LIVING YOUR YOGA: Find a wood floor and spend a minute looking at what could be called its imperfections, such as knots, irregular grain, and discoloration. Remember that these imperfections are what give the floor its beauty and character; they make it real. Allow yourself to grow in wholeness, imperfections and all.

From A Year of Living Your Yoga, Daily Practices To Shape Your Life by Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., P.T.

It isn’t always easy to deal with our own imperfections. Often times we want to fit in to this idea we have of who we should be, or we try to fit situations and the other people in our lives in to the ‘ideal’ that we imagine. 

There is no such thing as ‘perfection’ though, just as the idea of ‘normal’ can’t exist either because it is all subjective to each person’s experiences. We all have our own distinct dreams, and our own ways of seeing ourselves and the world around us, and we cannot impose that upon others just as we do not wish to have their ideas imposed upon us. Individuals among the collective, that’s what we are.

And yet what we all do have in common, what unites us, what makes us human are our flaws, our imperfections. We all experience things in life that teach us about grief, and also about love, that teach us about our limitations, and about our resilience. There is so much capacity within us all, that runs the gamut of emotions and actions, beyond even our own imagination. 

Each day, our imperfections teach us. Each day, we have another opportunity to learn. Each day, we are complete and whole; we only need to recognize that within ourselves and others. 

Inspirational words from others

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. -Abraham Lincoln

The power of Love came into me
And I became fierce like a lion,
then tender like the evening star.
-Rumi

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. – Viktor Frankl

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet. -James Oppenheim

The only way of full knowledge lies in the act of love; this act transcends thought, it transcends words. It is the daring plunge into the experience of union. To love somebody is not just a strong feeling-it is a decision, it is a judgement, it is a promise. -Erich Fromm

Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you? -Fanny Brice

I am willing to move to a deeper level of service. I am willing to dissolve the false ego that creates the illusion that we are separate so I can do the soul’s work. -Qahira

The objective of two lovers is almost always the same; to find meaning in their individual lives and in their life together. -Paul Pearsall

The only true joy on earth is to escape from the prison of our own false self, and enter by love into union with the Life Who dwells within the essence of every creature and in the core of our own souls. -Thomas Merton

Writing, and loving.

To me, writing is a testimony. It is a testimony of how I am feeling, what I am thinking, in that moment in time. Most writers really don’t write for others, they write for themselves. It sounds like such a selfish act, but in reality it is a form of sharing because when we write, those thoughts and feelings that we have are bound to have been felt or thought by others as well because it is all a part of the human condition. As different as we are, we are also all the same. Words can bring us together when we share them.

I’ve realized that love is another form of testimony in itself. When we love, we are testifying to the impact that another person has in our life, and also testifying to ourselves that we are human and capable of amazing things, such as love. It is such a simple thing, and yet made so complicated. The act of loving others is a natural part of who we are; it is when we deny that, or when we place restrictions or limitations on love, or expectations of love, that it becomes difficult and complicated. We complicate love. It doesn’t complicate us. It enriches us, it brings us together just like words can, in an even more powerful way because love is self-perpetuating and the more love we give, the more love we feel.

Writing, and loving. They go hand in hand. Words and love. They are life.

Starting over, again.

We all have to start over at many points in our lives; we move, we start over; we change jobs, we start over; a new relationship begins, we start over. Often times we tend to think of ‘starting over’ as failure, but really it’s just getting back to the basics and learning to adapt and apply what you already know to a new situation. I am starting to see ‘starting over’ as something truly beautiful, and magical. In that moment, where we begin again, we get to take the lessons from our previous experiences and gain perspective that gives us a new way to see the situation we are being placed in. This is how we grow in life. And this is what I realized today during my yoga practice.

It’s been over a month since my last yoga practice, and it has been several months since I have been able to practice multiple times in a week like I had grown accustomed to. Life changes have been a big part of that, but that’s OK because I knew that yoga was still a part of me since it isn’t only what you practice on the mat but within day to day life itself; the mat would still be waiting for me. And so today, although my body was a tad stiffer than the last time my mat and I met, I got to ‘start over, again’ with yoga. It was interesting to come back and find that moment where muscle memory meets things that you hadn’t realized about certain poses. Yes, the instructor’s breakdown of where my hip/chest/shoulder should be was hugely instrumental in this and that’s why the instructor can make or break a class, especially for beginners; but really it was the fact that I returned to a beginner’s class, humbled and ready to listen again to just how I should approach each pose.

In yoga, and in life, we learn something and become good at it from doing it over and over again, oftentimes thinking that we have now mastered it and no longer need to be reminded of the basics. Starting over helps get us back to those basics, to say ‘look, sure you’re doing this well but you can always do better.’ We can always do better. So starting over, again, is just another part in that process of learning how to do better.

Attachment

It’s a funny thing, attachment. We are so often unaware of how attached we are to a thing, person, place, idea, until we are confronted with being parted from what we are attached to.

As humans, we like to be comfortable and attachment goes hand in hand with that. When we find something that feels good, that works, we like to keep doing that because it’s comfortable and that makes us happy. Change is a challenge to that contentment. However, without change we cannot grow, we cannot test ourselves to go beyond our limits.

Living in Miami was an attachment for me, one that I didn’t realize until I was forced to leave. Now, on the occasions that I revisit my old ‘stomping grounds’ there is such a pleasurable wave of familiarity that washes over me; the grooves and patterns in my brain that were engraved over the many years of living there become rekindled and the high of the ‘addiction’, the attachment, is what causes that temporary sense of joy. It’s interesting to now take a backseat during the moment, and realize where that comes from.

The change, in this case my move to Ft. Lauderdale but any change really, is not easy at first although the excitement of something new and different also mixes in with the feelings of anxiety, but eventually what was new becomes the new attachment, the new comfort zone; unless we are so attached to the past that is, that we can’t let go and embrace the new.

And so as I pondered all this while driving in to Miami recently, I realized suddenly how so many relationships end because two people ‘grew apart’. I always thought that the key is to grow together. In a way, it is. There are certain things however that are individual changes, growth that only happens to one or the other, not both parties in the relationship. (This could refer to a romantic relationship, familial or even friendship; any relationship.) The key to being able to make it through the changes, together, is support. If one person is experiencing a change, growing in some way, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are growing ‘away’ or ‘apart’ from you. By supporting each other in all these phases of life that bring about change, growth, evolution, that is how we grow ‘together.’

Attachment. Change. Growing. Supporting. Togetherness. We are all the same, even though we are all different.

Deep impact

We never know what impact a moment or a person will make in our lives, or what impact we may make in another’s life. It isn’t until later that the true depth and meaning of these things comes to light, hopefully not too late for us to appreciate the value and meaning of it.

Indeed, we have all been on both ends of the ‘not knowing what you’ve got until it’s gone’ scenario; that in of itself teaches its own lessons. So now, when I wake up with those worrisome thoughts that life brings, I immediately replace them with thoughts of gratitude. I remind myself how grateful I am for the people in my life, the special blessings that make me appreciate the beauty of life, and even the challenges that force me to hit a wall in order to take a step back and reevaluate my approach.

It’s so crazy to think of how many people and situations we will go through in our lives, how much impact will be made by them and how many people we will impact. Even when we walk away from certain people or times in our lives, we can’t negate the changes that have occurred because of them being a part of our lives, no matter how brief, or how long ago.

To all of those that have come in to my life, no matter how big or small of a role, whether you are still a part of it or not, I am eternally grateful. You are a part of who I am, and always will be.

We have the capacity to carry so much in our hearts, our minds, our souls. Let’s make everything that we carry the best of it all, even of the moments that seemed difficult, for they taught us valuable lessons, including that the sun always returns to shine after dark nights and stormy days.

One week in.

2014 has been with us for exactly one week, and while some of the residual effects remain from 2013, I can already see that the changes from the seeds were planted during 2013 are starting to come to fruition.

In no way was 2013 easy, although I do feel that it was a great year in many ways and most definitely an important part of this experience/experiment called life that needed to take place. I see 2013 as the year of foundation, many things had to happen for lots of great opportunities to be possible in 2014 and the years to come.

Any one who follows my blog can see that the lack of posts over the last couple of months is a significant demonstration of just how hectic it all became towards the end there. I don’t feel the need to go in to details, because what has passed is behind us and I am taking those lessons forward to make the most out of 2014.

New Years ‘resolutions’ have never been my thing, because they seem so temporary and forced. I am simply going to work on small changes that I think will improve my life quality, and hopefully from little changes I can grow the positive and move in the right direction on my path. Part of that is my commitment, to myself, of writing on this blog once a week at least. I also need to get back to my journal, but like I said, small changes that will grow.

2014, I have a great feeling about you. Lets do this!