8 March 2016
One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, or of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity. ~Albert Einstein
I watched my friend’s finger as it swirled around the inside of the tulip, gently pushing open the closed petals so we could peer in, her fingertip circling the stamens and brushing into the pollen clustered at the tips of the filaments. Familiar and fond as I am of flowers, as present as they are in my daily life, I wasn’t sure I had ever been so intimate with one.
Flowers are something I enjoy looking at and smelling. I bring them into my home regularly. I hike the spring hills with my friend searching for wildflowers. Yet, here was a new way to connect. Suddenly, I was eager to do the same.
I’ve been battling staleness. The repetitive, obligatory, burdensome feeling of every day life. Gratitude for good fortune didn’t shake off this trudge or the lurking question about this being all there is.
Day-to-day is repetitive. Often obligatory. Sometimes a burden. And, at times, inevitably difficult. But, the conditions of life are not the issue. The issue is how I bring myself to it. The issue is knowing each moment contains new territory. Even the familiar ones are shiny possibilities. Like the inside of a flower to be explored.
What makes something ordinary is a state of mind. With an altered point of view, the whole world changes.
The same routines, the same guy across the table at breakfast, the same basket of laundry can seem boring. But interestingly, these moments that are so easy to take for granted, or even resent, can be the ones that are missed most when they disappear. The comfort of those routines. The love and history shared with that guy. The ability to bend over and pick up a heavy basket of laundry.
The impermanence of every thing I hold dear is frightening, yet simultaneously, this is what brings me back to a freshness, an expansive appreciation. And awakens my eagerness to show up, curious and caring.
Once upon a time I acted as if I could change the way life is, just like I thought I would change the things I didn’t like in my husband. But, when I stop rejecting or judging, I’m loving my husband more, appreciating the whole package he is, learning to be with him in risky or challenging ways. Life is a similar relationship — an invitation to lean in and work with what’s there.
I believe intentions are powerful. As I clarify my understanding of life as a relationship that I help create, doors open. I see opportunities where before I saw burden or pain. I spot the opportunity to uncover something new about myself or a longtime friend. I cherish the opportunity to take someone’s hand and share uncertainty or fear.
When I’m exhausted, this is hard. When the world at large or the one very close around is painful, it doesn’t seem reasonable. But what if, like a plant in the falling rain or the flower spread open under the sun, I truly showed up to the gifts, the opportunities of the day? The joy of an unexpected phone call. The comfort of an old friend’s voice. Intimacy with the shirt in the laundry, with myself, with a flower.
What if I practiced romancing my life, lavishing it with the attention and care we give a beloved? What if I was devoted to the quotidian affair?
The petals of the tulip were cool and silky. The inner parts delicate and also resilient. It felt alive. I did, too.