i know not everyone in the world is happy and content. lots of misery out there. but i feel like – for ME – happiness is in your perspective. in what you see. i’m putting up some shots of my town that i find beautiful. this may not be the most exciting city, or offer the most things to do. but i’m fond of it, i’ve found some of its treasures, and i like to share my perception of things. so here’s the first shot of many to come:
I’m not really sure when it started.
I can’t really put a finger on the day I realized that I have a thing for benches. At some point in my life, I just started to notice that whenever I walked by a bench I tended to sit on it. I would be in the middle of a conversation with someone, walking along a street, and then suddenly they would turn around – mid-sentence – and find me sitting on the bench, swinging my legs.
“Sorry,” I’d say with a big Cheshire grin. “I have a thing for benches”.
It didn’t really matter if it was raining and the other person wanted to run to their car to keep their hair from getting messed up. I just told them I’d catch up.
It didn’t matter if we were going to be late or if we were in the middle of a very serious, vulnerable conversation. It just didn’t matter. I had to sit.
I don’t know what caused this particular neurosis, or if there is a name for it, but I have to sit on a bench when I’m around one. But once I’ve sat on one, I don’t have to go sit on all the rest in the area; that one will give me the fix I need.
Maybe I was a pigeon feeder in a past life, and the fond memory of the birds coming to my feet to eat seeds, bread, and popcorn draws me unknowingly to these interesting pieces of furniture. Maybe my philosophical side yearns to sit, just for a moment, and consider the deeper things in life while my physical side is making its way to the used book store.
I’ve never really known anyone else that has this problem, this “Leg Narcolepsy” that forces me to collapse happily onto a hard, uncomfortable structure. I wouldn’t normally select a long piece of hard wood to sit on, or a cold length of heavy metal. Not my idea of leisure resting. But when it’s a bench I manage to set aside my discomfort for the sheer pleasure of the sit.
So here is my thing with benches, and more to follow, I’m sure. Though very utilitarian and practical, I find them works of art on their own.
I’m happy to be me this morning. I could be making more money. I could be having more sex. I could have a bigger closet full of more fashionable clothing. I could have a more exciting social life, with parties, dancing, and weekend luncheons. But several times on my walk today, I stopped. Sure I was a little late getting out for my stroll, but when the trees started dumping their colorful bounty on me, I had to stop anyway, and take in the moment. And when I got to the “river” I had to stop for a while there as well, and marvel at the foamy, sparkly goodness of the water. And wonder to myself, “when did the word ‘diamond’ come into existence? and before then, how did we ever describe the breath taking beauty of the sun shimmering off the water?” (this is a dunder, which i’ve talked about in another blog) The water this morning looked like a glitter factory had exploded onto it, and I just had to giggle like a kid in a candy store. There was also a patchwork quilt of leaves at my feet, that made me feel like a fairy princess on her wedding day, picking her way through ribbons of color, eager to greet her groom at the end of the path. And while I didn’t have a groom on my path today (ok, at least so far…it’s only ten a.m., and you never really know what a day will bring in my life!) I did feel as giddy. I’m happy to be me. Happy that I have a life that allows me to stop for a moment and smell the flowers. (or wet earth, since it’s fall and most the flowers have faded ‘round here) Happy to have an eye for the magical and whimsical. Happy to be on a path in life that supports my heart’s desires. And while I wouldn’t mind having more money, or more sex (especially more sex) and more clothes, I wouldn’t want to switch places with anyone in the world. I’m happy with the place I’ve chosen, and happy with the me I am.
Guy: (after waiting an extra 45 minutes because the doctor was flirting with his nurses)
“I keep getting this pain in my eye, like, every day. It’s like clockwork.”
Doctor: “Tell me about it, guy”.
Guy: “Well, it’s really painful. It’s like this stabbing pain, this searing stabbing pain that hurts like hell, and I want it to stop hurting. Man it hurts.”
Doctor: “You say this happens every day?”
Guy: “Yeah like clockwork. Every morning I’m getting this horrible ache in my eye.”
Doctor: “Tell me your morning routine”.
Guy: “Well I get up and, you know, I have to “pee”, and then I putz around and look for the paper. And I make myself a cup of coffee; strong, not this pussy coffee you buy at these crappy chain places that have like mounds of cream or foam or some shit. But I do put SOME cream in my coffee, ok, sue me, I don’t have much hair on my chest. Christ. What was I saying? Oh, so I put in some sugar too, ‘cause like I said, I make it pretty strong, and then I stir it up and slurp it down, and then I get this horrible ass headache”.
Doctor: “Try taking the spoon out of your cup”.
Ok, so that’s my version of the story, but you’ve heard it. What’s my point?
I’ve been reading “The Secret”, and many other books that are similarly minded. Good stuff if you’re into that kind of thing. Stupid if you’re not, I suppose. One of the books I’ve been reading lately is dealing with relationships, and how to make them better and stronger. Much good advice in this book. But also some advice I have to leave in the book, and not carry around in my head. The book has a specific religious slant that I don’t agree with, and it amazes me how I feel after reading it. I find I’m really buying into this whole idea that you vibrate on a certain frequency. The whole “birds of a feather flock together” thing. So the way you are is great, you’re awesome, and you gravitate towards other things that vibrate on your level. These things may not all be similar to you, but you are on the same frequency level, so you are compatible, or compliment each other, or match somehow. And I’m finding this true in many aspects of my life; even books! Because despite the fact that this book has some much needed information for me, I certainly don’t match its frequency for the most part.
Take, for example, “Click”, which I recently wrote about. After reading this book, I felt energized, excited, motivated and hopeful. Immediately after reading the book – and actually half way through it – I began sharing the concepts of the book with others. Siblings, friends, strangers; it didn’t matter who you were, I wanted to tell you about the book. I started quoting and recommending and blogging about the book. It helped me learn more about myself. It made me feel like I had purpose. It made me send an email to the authors and write a gushing thank you for this wonderful, life changing piece of work. In comparison, the book I’m reading now – though chock full of good information I will remember and utilize in my relationships – makes me feel bad. Its focus is on complaining, and whether you are complaining too much about life, and lovers, and situations. Complain less, is the motto, which is wonderful. I want to do that. Look at my blogs, I complain all the time. So after reading this book I feel like I’ve been doing things wrong. I’ve been questioning my direction. I feel guilt about maybe being a bad person, even though just this morning I decided I’m going to make some cornbread for a perfect stranger just because the old man mentioned he loved it when we met on my morning walk today. Or maybe I feel guilt because I am complaining too much about life? Or maybe I’m guilty because I don’t feel love, and don’t seem to get it? I get anxious, and nervous, and start to cry. I feel confused and at odds and discouraged. Yes, yes, some of the information is good. I already said that. Otherwise I would have stopped reading a long time ago. But the book doesn’t make me FEEL GOOD.
And here comes The Secret. If it doesn’t make you feel good, stop doing it. If you aren’t happy in the center of it, get into the thing that DOES make you feel happy. So I appreciate and receive the good information from the book, but then I have to put it down. Because really, we all have our own ways and beliefs, and this way and belief has helped all kinds of people all over the world, according to the author and the review on the cover. But it doesn’t match MY frequency. I find it fascinating that organized religion seems to have this effect on me. Makes me squeamish, guilt ridden and worriful just being near it. While it makes others I know happy, full of love and grateful, it just makes me exhausted. I don’t want to focus on complaining, and counting how many times I complain, and noticing when and how and why I complain.
I want to focus on LOVE. I want to let love IN, and let love BE, and let love flourish all around me. I want to GIVE love and RECEIVE love, and LIVE IN LOVE. I want LOVE to be my focus. Not complaints.
And so, I must leave aside religion. I notice and take up what bits make sense to me, and continue my journey in love. Because that is what I want to fill my life with. Not condemnation. Not judgment. Not the attentive eyes of people who tell me I’m doing this wrong or failing to do that right. I want love in my life. I want acceptance, and peace and happiness. And religion can give that to some people. But not me. And so, like the good doctor would recommend, I must take the spoon out of my cup.
My sister, a dear friend of ours and I all went out to a little Italian restaurant for my birthday meal. I order my favorite Manicotti, which is freakishly delicious, and the fabulous tortellini soup. The food, as always, is scrumptious, but just as wonderful is the surprise entertainment we encounter. I guess I’ve never been to the restaurant on a Tuesday night at 8 PM, and we happened to sit in an area that was being serenaded by an older gentleman. Apparently, a gaggle of people come in every Tuesday, all old friends that have been frequenting the establishment for a number of years. After they have their meals, the one old guy starts singing show tunes for everyone, and I guess this is the weekly tradition. “Sing for your dinner” kind of thing. His beautiful baritone wafts through the house, and everyone on our side of the building claps their approval after every song is sung. He sings an old show tune, part of a romantic ballad, and then something in Italian. He crescendos and vibrattos and makes a delicious meal even more charming, with his enthusiastic performance to a familiar and well loved audience.
After the old crooners leave and we finish our meal, we start to walk across the street to the cyber café. I’m in the mood for a good round of foozball, and then some serious Facebooking. My Super Poke Pet is probably dirty and lonely. Walking part way across the street, I spy something shiny at my feet. I don’t know how I happen to see the glint of metal, as it is well past eight o’clock, and the sun has already put itself to bed. Yet somehow, with my less than eagle eyesight, I catch the little nod of a piece of something, winking up at me. Quickly, before the public bus can squash the Manicotti out of me, I snatch up my little find and scurry into the café, twirling this something in my hand. At first I think my new treasure might be a sobriety medal, which I find sad and funny at the same time, as the café is but two doors down from a bar. “Oh no,” I think, “the old guy just couldn’t pass up the weeknight special one day more”. It would be a sort of tragedy, and so much a part of life if it were true.
In the light of the café, however, I notice that this something in my hand is worn and bent, dented and scratched. Looking at it closer, I see it is a St. Christopher medal. Or maybe I’m forgetting, I did show it to the man at the counter, perhaps he was the one who declared it the medal. Either way, it seemed a good find, and almost everyone I’ve told this story to has shared the sentiment: this is a sign of fortune. Good luck. The medal was meant for me.
And though I am not a Catholic or a Christian, I am spiritual. I do seem to have a connection to the “other side”, and it doesn’t really surprise me that a token of blessing would find its way into my hands. Nor does it surprise me that it should find it’s way to me via a pothole in the middle of a busy street that is home to a yummy restaurant, a comic book shop, a tattoo parlour and a bar. I could have found a nice shiny St. Christopher medal, that was new and unworn. But I like the fact that mine is beat to hell. It’s like someone used up all the three wishes out of the Jeanie bottle, and dropped the bottle to run off on their next adventure, leaving the treasure behind for the next guy. It’s a little worse for the wear, but I imagine if this medal could talk it would have many stories and adventures to share. And as I tucked it into my coin purse, and headed out into the night air, I started to think about all the new adventures that lay before me, and the many more stories it was about to absorb.