What a great effort it is, to live life cheerfully and with verve and energy. It takes a lot. The more I think about it, the more it’s like art. We have these impulses to create art, but they’re random. If we just follow our impulses, our art output would be really minimal. We have to sit down and decide to do the work. Most of the time it’s not “finding motivation” but “creating motivation”.
And the same, then, for being cheerful. For being energetic. It’s just like art. Sometimes we’re in the mood, other times it’s a herculean effort. I’m not saying one could be cheerful indefinitely (I wouldn’t know how to go that far), but to make the effort to be cheerful the vast majority of the time – wouldn’t that make the world a better place? Wouldn’t that be one of the best contributions you could bring to life?
Because if you’re energetic, vervy, zesty – that has to rub off on others, right? Energy and enthusiasm is contagious. I want people to feel refreshed after being around me. Restored. I want my energy signature to be a force of good.
But then I have to do the work.
Don’t we as humans tend to take the lazy route? We just give in to our moods and feelings, accepting them as reality, accepting them as unchangeable. “I’m feeling lazy”, “I’m feeling bored”, “I’m feeling sad”, “I’m feeling happy”. It’s like the winds of moods blow us wherever they please, and we’re scraps of human paper. But who wants to be so flimsy and two-dimensional?
Sit down, do the work. Be an energy artist. Live my life like every day counts, which of course it always does.
I wrote this on October 12, 2011, the day after my 25th birthday.
The month prior was spent in beautiful Northern California, where I breathed the ocean and lived all by myself and was lonely and revitalized. There was a creative streak that followed, but it faded (as is wont to happen without kindling).
It’s harder to write about positive shifts (ahh the angsty artist), but maybe it’s more important.
Love and Kindness
You pulled me up and I let you down. A mountainside, steep and promiseless I’d forgotten how To hold on. And forgiveness rushes by like movie slides, And we’re blind to it, and We’re bound to it.
I waited for a perfect moment But the story didn’t wait for me. And I tell you everything, and I give you everything. Scene by scene, again and again. It’s all perfect in the end. I close my eyes and watch it unwind.
I’m not a stranger, and No one’s estranged. This damp earth runs deep and ageless Temporal and changeless and I’m learning how To move on. And forgiveness rushes by like movie slides, Scene by scene, over and over. Love and kindness. Love and kindness. Love and kindness.
That’s the million dollar question: Am I happy as a mother?
And therefore am I happy as a human on this planet Earth? As Allysia? But specifically in my role as Allysia-the-mother?
Well I started this blog, an answer in and of itself. There was the need to write and share, a weight of things to remove from my shoulders and toss in your direction.
Doesn’t that imply a lack of happiness? A happy person doesn’t need to write in a diary to find relief. When I flip through my diary entries throughout the years, happy times are notably absent (weddings, travel, all the good stuff I wish I penned for memory’s sake).
Here’s the problem.
Up until now, for the last 32 years of my life, I’ve expected the world to make me happy. Happiness is something that happened to me. Not something I found or worked for. Something that just came about – poof! – in waves forever. Now you’re happy, now you’re not.
A sunny day – happiness. A cuddle, a hot cup of coffee, a warm blanket, a private moment away with words. A piece of chocolate, a waffle, a bowl of mac n’ cheese, a Belgian beer.
Rainy skies – dreariness. Cancelled plans, a stubbed toe, finding out I’m all out of oatmeal right at breakfast. These are the antagonists of my life, the things that place the collar around my neck and drag me around my day.
When happiness is out there, I don’t control it. I’m a victim of it. Sometimes the Universe smiles upon me; sometimes the Universe could care less about me. I’m blown around like a paper doll. Dust in the wind.
But the happy times feel so good. Sunny-cuddle-coffee-blanket, it’s a high. What’s wrong with creature comforts, with happiness that exists out there?
Who am I to say anything is wrong with it? Life is life, life is made up of these glorious moments. But it’s also stubbed toes and cancelled plans. You can’t get one without the other.
I don’t want to splash around while the waves happen to me. I want to learn to surf.
If someone has this surfer’s manual, please deliver it to me.
I was thinking about this while Jane and I were having lunch. My phone was only a foot away but I refused to look at it. This is a moment for just us, I thought. Me, my mind, and my daughter. This is a moment to think my own thoughts. I kept the phone out of reach.
Am I happy as a mother?
My answer is that for the last ten months, probably not really. Not overly. I was happier last year, in the sense that I had time, freedom, and control. The things that happened to me were nicer things. In my 10 months of being a mom, the things that have happened to me are hard. Early wake-ups, constant dependency, a complete lifestyle change. So from an outward point of view, I am not very happy as a mother. Not right now. Not if I’m being honest.
I’m not depressed, though. That’s a different animal. It’s just that life is harder, and my mood is all tangled up in Jane’s. Her bad days become my bad days. Her storms are my storms. And – truly – her happiness is entangled in my own too. It’s not all such a grim story.
But that’s the problem. I’ve never learned how to properly draw happiness from within. I’ve always just sucked it out of the world around me.
So how you create happiness? How do you surf?
I don’t have an answer but I suspect it’s nestled in spirituality somewhere. Or – secularly – in gratitude. In little rituals, little rememberings about the precious nature of each moment. In being really present. Present for the rain, present for the shine. Present for this sweet little girl of mine, now just 10 months.
When I take a bird’s eye view, I can see the beauty. Because I find perspective beautiful. But I don’t think that’s enough. Life is more than the long view. Life is more than the retrospective. Life is ordinary moments, waiting to be noticed. It’s attention that ignites the magic.
I know I know I know.
The way I feel when I look at these pictures is how I want to feel when I’m inside the picture the moment it’s all unfolding.