Someone sent me the photo on the blog today, yesterday. It immediately spoke to me, and inspired me to try to get there...once you see the photo you will understand...
I feel like life is grinding me pretty hard right now. And it is getting to me. That is why the photo was so perfect. In the photo, a person is parachuting and the parachute is on fire but the person is laughing and having a good time. It was a great reminder to me to not take all of this shit so seriously. I mean, I do have a lot going on, but I am letting life grind me to a pulp mostly as my emotions rage all over the place.
I am not enjoying the ride down at all. It reminds me of an old Buddhist story, this woman is being chased by tigers and comes to a cliff, she sees a branch and climbs down to hang off it to save herself from the oncoming tigers, then she sees that there are also tigers below her, then she sees that a mouse is chewing through the branch that is all that stands between her and a tiger filled death. Then she sees a perfect little strawberry growing out of the side of the cliff, so she pops the strawberry into her mouth, closes her eyes and thoroughly enjoys...
That takes a very spiritual person to be in persistent and life ending peril, who can stop all the attendant self preservation, and enjoy an unexpected pleasure because it just happens to be there, regardless of all the other shitty circumstances that surround.
I was thinking about myself and how far off I feel from that person but then as I examined my living of my life, I realized that I am doing that. I feel completely off and out of sorts, like I am slogging through oatmeal but at the same time I am really thoroughly enjoying spending time celebrating my friend’s birthday, having dinner with a friend I haven’t seen in six weeks, talking with my daughter, laying in the sun in my backyard, tickling my dog’s stomach, getting videos from my son, hugging my parents. There are strawberry moments all around me every single day and I am taking them and I am thoroughly enjoying them. So maybe I am not so far off from the person I want to be as I might think.
I think life is hard for all of us right now. Every day tasks feel unsurmountable. Life seems to kind of be hanging in the balance for so many of us. The life we knew, gone. I mean really long gone. The world shifted and changed and no one really knowing exactly what that means. I feel like people’s tempers are shorter and the ability to connect with others perhaps forever damaged. We have become worse still with the us vs. them type of thinking and it appears that many people, myself at times included, tend to get caught up in ourselves.
There are many things that are still the same as before but how we do it, when we do it is fundamentally changed. We do not operate as a society as we did before. I feel so uncertain wherever I go out because I am no longer sure of the rules for society at large and myself as a person. I do not know where I fit, fall or where I am supposed to align anymore. I feel adrift and unsettled.
I guess we are all the lady hanging from the branch with tigers above and tigers below. It is the way life is, there is always something to be upset about, afraid of, running from but it is our choice to allow that to consume us or to pop a perfect strawberry in our mouths and thoroughly enjoy it in the afternoon sun. We get to choose to enjoy or resist the beauty we find all around us. Each of us, every single day has this choice.
I am going to keep this story in my head and try to enjoy what feels like a flaming parachute ride right now. I have to believe that everything happens in this life for good reason and nothing is ever wasted. I know this. I believe it. And I can rely upon that when all else fails. Just because my life feels like it is getting ready to crash, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the ride down. I can endeavor to make moments of strawberry living a part of every day, regardless of whether the circumstance be a tiger or a delightful little strawberry. It really is all about my perception of myself, this life and what is being asked of me. I can choose to feel put upon, chased, punished or I can just accept that mice who chew through branches that are saving my life and tigers above and below are just part of living and try as I might, I cannot ever completely avoid them. So I might as well just accept that mice and tigers might do me in and enjoy the moment I am in with presence and joy. I mean really what else is there to do? No amount of anger, worry or ignoring is going to change reality...really. So I might as well enjoy the ride on the flaming parachute all the way down. I may be sure that it is a death sentence but isn’t that what is life’s ultimate promise? Death awaits us all, the biggest sin of life is living like you are already dead.
Feels like a big ask today but also feels like not doing it would be more detrimental. So today, I will find the flaming parachute ride fun, I will pop that delicious strawberry into my mouth, throw my head back into the afternoon sun and I will enjoy the fuck out of it. Because another ride and another strawberry are never promised so I might as well enjoy the hell out of them today...even as it all feels off and weird.