One of the most significant lessons etched on my soul is the growth, awareness, and appreciation I experience when things don't turn out as I'd hoped or planned. It is almost always a time of significant learning, even if I don't know it at the time. A few years ago, I began to put those moments in my gratitude jar, and I often do so before I know the outcome. It reinforces the idea that what may seem negative in my current view of it probably has something meaningful to offer. Of course, I put the things that already feel like gratitude-inducing events in there, too. I open my gratitude jar every New Year's Eve, and read the past year's moments, when I took a pause and jotted down an event, a feeling, a fleeting thought that surfaced as something I might want to reflect on again. I don't write lengthy notes - they're more like brief memory-joggers.
John and I broke up. Mother's Day Angel's game. My company was acquired. Prototype 3-D printed, patent pending! Started Dorothy's life story project. Trip to Prescott with Patricia. My biopsy was basal cell skin cancer. Awesome Buck Gully run, feeling healthy.
I am usually able to see the gift in the circumstance that showed up, versus the circumstance that I wished for: the unanticipated outcome that was better than what I'd had my heart set on in the first place. Occasionally I am aware of this in the present moment, though sometimes it takes stillness to notice.
As life moves on, what I see is a shift from my outward search for happiness (money, men, stuff) to my awareness that I am already surrounded by a familiar essence that is enough: it's more than enough. It feels like joy. I never knew that I knew joy. In my younger years, I was often seeking, yet I am aware that what I sought was already accessible to me. (Feels like Dorothy just clicked her ruby slippers, doesn't it?) It's like coming home. Being known. Being understood. Being loved. That's my mantra: I say it to myself (I am home, I am known, I am understood, I am loved). And I hear it said to me from the Source of all life: You are home. You are known. You are understood. You are loved. And the rest of what I was worried about, anxious for, regretful over...falls away from significance. This leaves room for: meaningful interactions, relationships of value, activities with purpose, blatant fun, passionate discourse, meaningful exploration of myself and my world, healthy habit-building, attempts at unwavering kindness, and openness to the unanticipated.
This acceptance and letting go is not giving up. To paraphrase Ekhart Tolle, it merely makes me aware of using my mind when I need it, and not letting my mind use me to preoccupy my life with things I cannot control: the past and the future.
The last nugget that sustains me in times of disappointment is the awareness that "it" is temporary. While the circumstance may be unchangeable, my response to it does not have to remain my initial reaction to it: and the goal is to shorten the gap from reaction to response. I'm told that the gap is called "the pause."
I'll close with a loving kindness meditation that I say often for you and for me: May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you live with ease.