Friday, October 24, 2008

Hakuna Matata

Some time ago, after reading Rhonda Byrne's "The Secret", I made a conscious decision not to write about things that reflect some of my knee-jerk negative thoughts. To write them is to propagate the negativity, I felt. But sometimes I also need to express them, so I don't harbor them within me. Emotion magnifies things if you let it. Writing helps purge that excess emotion and negativity, because it helps put order in chaos, and gives direction to energies. It's normal to have these sorts of feelings, but if I don't apply some concepts of Buddhist balance, things could go so easily out of whack.

What happened this morning, you ask. Nothing out of the usual, breakfast was great, actually. Sardines, chive omelette, pork and beans, even boiled ripe saba bananas. I really enjoyed it. It's the newspapers I don't enjoy looking at much. They're full of stories of economic downtrends, side by side with stories of contaminated food, vehicular accidents, desert wars, the kidnapping industry, unsavory showbiz gossip and the unrepentant arrogance and corruption of public officials. What else is new? I read them because it's part of my daily education, but today I don't have the stomach for it. I could say that every day, but I don't know why I feel it particularly today. I DO NOT HAVE THE STOMACH FOR IT TODAY. (How liberating to type it in all caps, in a blog.)

This is the point where I usually think: I'll have the stomach for it later. Tomorrow. Maybe.

This reminds me of my low-batt rant during an exasperating conversation with a much younger person a couple of months ago. I said to that person: Look, I'm tired. I had a long day at work. There are times the most political thing I want to discuss is Angelina Jolie's humanitarian projects. I just can't listen anymore to complaints where nobody is suggesting any solutions. It's not my battle to fight. You can think I'm old and I just don't have the energy anymore to deal with these things. But I DO have energy. I just want to apply that energy to other things that make me happy. And that doesn't mean that things that make me happy are any less stimulating or less intelligent. In the end I just want some balance in my day. I deserve it.

I was happy to get out of there.

I was a bit alarmed when I examined this thought again later. I don't think I'm old, or even particularly wise. I'm cheerful most of the time. Is this hormonal mid-life already? When I lived in Australia I used to tape handwritten affirmations on the bathroom mirror so I could read it while brushing my teeth or washing my hands. I try to visualize a good day every day. It requires a lot of effort to deliberately put yourself in the mindset that if you look at a given situation from a different/more positive point of view, you can turn things around. You can, but it takes a while, and only in your sphere of influence. And I only know that now, having gone through things the hard way.

It's the feeling of helplessness that creates a lot of anxiety. It's the feeling that the world is a pendulum swinging crazily on a rapidly fraying chain, in a universe of randomness. That's when you have to do as much as you can and then trust that things will work out. Invoke a Higher Power if that works for you. Trust that people are inherently good, act towards them that way, pay it forward. Appreciate good news when it's there, because it's precious. (No, it is NOT that time of the month.)

Several years ago I was invited by a friend to one of those zen meditation classes held above the Lopez Museum by a Catholic nun. I learned something important there: how to create a point of quietness for my mind and body. Our daily busy-ness swirls with vibes transmitted by the people we encounter and more often than not we allow ourselves to be affected. The quiet, peaceful stillness was so attractive to me. I might practice it again. I have used it successfully in the past, to reduce feelings of anxiety where I couldn't pinpoint a particular cause. There are days like that. When we meditate we consider a thought, and release it, consider a new one, release that, control our breathing, our physical responses, relax. Or consider a particular prayer and hold to it while letting thoughts come and go. When I think about time this way it makes sense that yes, tomorrow hasn't happened so there is only right now to do things in a way that brings you balance and peace.

The French have a saying: "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose." The more things change, the more things stay the same. There's one idea of balance, with two different ways of looking at the same sentence.

Every new second that comes is my right now. Right now I decide to make myself a good cup of coffee to enjoy. Right now I am considering two beautiful words from Disney's "The Lion King".

Hakuna Matata.

And the day is saved!