It’s been a brutal week. Hellish even, with multiple punches to the gut and solar plexus that make me feel like I’m drowning. I’ll get my bearings enough to reach for something to grasp onto, only to be sucker punched while I’m looking the other way. This is the tough gristle and jaggedy bone of life. The stuff you never want to have to deal with but you do, riding all the waves of grief and ache, letting each pass through until the next one inevitably hits.
Life and death.
It’s not my intention to be alarmist or unnecessarily coy and I wish I could tell you more, but I can’t right now. Don’t worry about me because I’m okay–this is more about the people I love and my community at large.
Today, here are three things that matter.
At the end of our lives, all that will matter is who and how we loved.
This is not an original thought, nor terribly earth-shattering and certainly not very complex. But it’s not an empty, airy-fairy platitude either.
I taught my yoga classes last week on the theme of “keep it simple”. As humans, we are gifted these phenomenal brains that like to over-think, analyze and criticize. While critical thinking and an analytical mind can serve us in many realms, we often let our brains get in the way when it comes down to our relationships.
Love hard and long. Love as clearly as possible. Love without regret.
Keep it simple. Love each other. And allow others to love you, in all those bumbling, imperfect ways that we humans tend to do.
Pay attention to those you love and how you love. Pay attention to what’s going on within you.
If we’re lucky enough to live a few decades, it’s inevitable that we strap some pretty impressive baggage to our backs and lug it from one relationship to the next. No one gets out of here with a perfect record.
So take a few moments each week to pull your head out of the rat race, unplug from the busy effort of day-to-day living and get quiet. Notice your breath, notice what comes up. Sit with it. Squirm a bit. Watch yourself want to leave but stay anyway. Your breath serves as your anchor.
It’s so simple and not easy at all. Paying attention is one of the most valuable practices we can do for ourselves and with others.
Bring that quiet awareness to your loved ones. What do you notice? Listen. Listen to what they say and listen to what they don’t say or maybe can’t say. It’s not our job to be mind-readers of the people we love, but it’s important to recognize that we all have moments when we struggle to express ourselves clearly.
Look up from your phone, from your work, from your navel and look around. Pay attention.
And when you screw up–because we all do–give yourself grace. Then, take a handful of that grace and share it with someone else.
We all stumble and fall. I know it doesn’t always look that way from the outside. Scan your social media feed on any given day and look for evidence of an imperfect life and you might be searching for awhile. There’s always been the tendency to want to “keep up with the Joneses” or gaze longingly at your neighbor’s greener grass but social media has heightened our propensity for comparison to others. Those exotic vacations, all the happy family holidays, the sexy new jobs and fancy, expensive meals that it seems like everyone else is partaking of but you. Extend that grace to the folks who put the extra effort into portraying a perfect life and understand that it usually stems from our basic human desire to be loved.
Grace. It’s so simple.
When you get caught up in the minutiae of life and you miss the bigger picture, grace.
When you love others without first unpacking all that complicated baggage strapped to your back, grace.
When the people you love love you back in their messy, imperfect ways that we humans tend to do, grace.
At the end of the day, grace.