Monday, May 9, 2016

If At First You Don't Succeed ... Or, At Second, Or At Third ....

So here's the good news for today: all humans are born precious and perfect. The bad news is that, being human, we all make mistakes. Sometimes, we make a lot of them. We make a decision without thinking things through, or looking at the big picture, and then we realize, often too late, that the picture was a lot bigger than we thought. In fact, the big picture doesn't look anything like what we thought it would. So we try to change it by making another decision, and another, all of them intended to create the picture that we want to see, that we demand to see, only to witness our mistakes taking on a life of their own and running downhill, out of control, until they crash at the bottom. 

I have to admit that retirement isn't as easy as I thought it would be. I pictured this idyllic scene with me sitting outside under a tree, watching the birds sail by and listening to my neighbors, the cows, mooing happily to one another as they graze peacefully on the hillside while I sit, notebook and pen in hand, creating deep and profound literary masterpieces. While there have truly been some moments just like that, quite a few in fact, sitting under a tree writing wears thin after a while. Even my excitement over being able to have a real garden as opposed to growing things in pots proved to be another picture that didn't quite pan out, like a paint-by-number picture where the numbers and colors are all mixed up. The truth is that you can't sit outside under a tree and write in the dead of a northeast country winter, and a "real" garden (what does that even mean?) requires a certain physical prowess that I no longer possess. However, rather than let this whole thing snowball into one great big "elephant in the room" called Bad Mistake, I took pen in hand and journaled my way to a more realistic picture.

The Buddhists teach that one of the biggest causes of suffering is our addiction to desire, to wanting things the way we want them rather than the way they are. Impermanence is the name of the game, folks. Nothing stays the same in the physical world,  not even us. What does stay the same is who we are inside, our true, authentic self. So it was to that self that I journaled, asking it what I missed about my old life, what I could do to either rectify that or let go and move on, and what I was learning from all of this. What I discovered was that despite feeling disenchanted at times with my big move, the biggest take-away from all of it was that I had learned more about myself in less than 2 years than I had throughout my entire life, and that in coming closer to the true essence of who I am, I kinda liked who I found there. In fact, she's a pretty cool and awesome lady. I'd pick her for a friend in a heartbeat, and I have. 

So what is the outcome of all of this? I wish I could write that I found the right numbers and the right colors for my picture and it all turned out fine in the end, except that it's not the end yet and I have many more colors and numbers to explore. What I won't let myself get stuck in is regret. I've said it before - we are all doing the best we can, from where we are, with what we have, and as Maya Angelou was fond of saying, "And when you knew better, you did better." So pardon me while I dig out my paints and start playing around with the colors, only this time there will be no magic numbers to follow. This time, I'm letting Spirit mix the colors and move my hand across the page. 

And so it is. 


  1. This is such a beautiful post, Barb, so full of the wisdom of the journey, rather than chasing the destination. Congratulations to all of us, on life, on our mistakes, and on our big wins!

    1. Just as we wouldn't know light without first knowing darkness, we don't always recognize the "big wins" without first making a few mistakes. Thanks for the kind words.