I call my life practice keeping it even, meeting each day’s energy one dose at a time. It’s an ongoing balancing act between letting go and looking more closely. No experience stays any longer than necessary.
But is it a cheerful practice?
I never considered the question until Pema Chödrön offered yet another challenge. “Apply constant cheerfulness,” she says, “if for no other reason than because you are on the spiritual path.” **
Inexplicably, the idea of cheerfulness appeals to me, not in the sense of positive thinking or utter optimism. No. Some days, the obstacle looms so large I lose track of my path. It is all I can do to wobble.
I’m fine with that. Yes. It’s like this.
I see all of life as an experience, a never-ending story, and I am but a single character in a plot that transcends all others, never knowing what comes next.
I have come to relish that uncertainty, and it only took six decades, give or take a year.
Not all plot twists are easy to live but I’m still here. Rather than running from nuance, fine distinctions occupy me. I ask more questions every day. That I do not have a clue where they might take me is energy in itself.
Maybe that means having a “sense of gratitude to everything,” not glossing over the hard moments but scrutinizing every facet of each obstacle. Where else dwells the sliver of light other than in deep darkness. It’s the only place I ever find it.
And that does not sound particularly cheerful, but it is, ultimately. It’s like this.
When I am pricked, I bleed, open to the never-ending story and my part in it. Curiosity gets me through one action after another.
Cheerfully? Well, with gratitude, ultimately, ever trying to keep it even.
“I think this is how we are to be in the world—present and in awe.” (Anne Lamotte).
*(Thanks to my Dad, Leonard Huber, for today’s featured image, the ever gorgeous tulip fields in the Skagit Valley near La Conner, WA where he and his wife, Sharon, celebrated her 76th birthday. I hear it was a perfect day! ❤ )
**Always Maintain a Joyful Mind: And Other Lojong Teachings on Awakening Compassion and Fearlessness by Pema Chödrön, page 42–43, Shambhala Publications.