I was supposed to be traveling around the world having adventures by now, but the city’s decision to do major construction on my street this summer put a halt to my plans. Actually, my plans weren’t eliminated, just delayed until next summer. But I wanted to be traveling now, and I was feeling a little sorry for myself. I want to be gone from this place and I am more than ready to start the next chapter in my life.
I had made the decision to sell my house and start traveling the world last January after asking myself what I would do if I wasn’t so afraid. A few weeks ago, after wallowing in self-pity, I asked myself a different question: How would I live my life if I didn’t have to worry about anything? (“Anything” includes finances, family obligations, too much “stuff” in my life that I’m responsible for, etc.) And the answer surprised me.
I was surprised because I realized I had put my life on autopilot and wasn’t even noticing what I was doing or feeling. It was the same sort of thing that happens when you’re eating a bag of chips in front of the television and all of a sudden you find out the bag is empty. Who ate those chips? And what was that television show about anyhow? It’s embarrassing when this happens with TV and chips, but there is something truly wrong when this happens with your life.
Among my activities that particular day were: an early morning Tai Chi class, drinking a pot of coffee while looking through my favorite websites on the internet, researching an article I’m writing, spending an hour driving through the countryside to buy raw milk from a farm, making butter, enjoying a beer with my elderly neighbors while I hooked up their new computer, and more Tai Chi practice before choosing a book to read in bed.
And I ask myself again, “How would I live my life if I didn’t have to worry about anything?”
Aside from traveling the world and living in a different place (and talking to all the people I meet through doing this), there isn’t too much that I would be doing differently. In my perfect world I would find someone who teaches Scottish Gaelic and be able to take classes. I would also find better recorder music and develop more consistent practice habits (okay, this one is on me – I don’t have to wait to do this). And locating someone nearby who could teach me traditional water dowsing would be ideal. That said, my life is pretty damn near perfect. I just didn’t notice it because I was focusing on the things that I was missing.
Realizing that reminded me of something I read in a book once. Robert Holden, a British psychologist and author of Be Happy, wrote about something that happened in one of his “How To Be Happy” workshops. In one exercise, he asked workshop participants to list three blessings that they had experienced the previous week. One participant – “Joan” – was having difficulty naming any blessings at all:
“So, Joan, name one blessing from last week.”
“I can’t think of any,” said Joan.
“Just one blessing, Joan.”
“My mind is blank.”
“Remember to keep breathing, Joan.”
“Okay,” nodded Joan, as she let out a smile.
“Was it a bad week?” I asked.
“No, just a normal week” said Joan.
“So, what did you do last week?”
“I can’t remember.”
Joan felt bad that she couldn’t play along, and I was tempted to give in, but something made me keep going.
“Give me one small, baby blessing, Joan.”
“Oh yes!” said Joan, as her face lit up. “It was my granddaughter’s first birthday last Tuesday. We had a wonderful time. She is such a joy.”
“Well done, Joan,” I said. “Now can you give me another blessing?”
“Yes,” said Joan, who had clearly perked up. “My husband has been off work for 18 months with a serious injury, and last week he was finally given the doctor’s clearance to return to work.”
“My goodness, congratulations,” I said.
Joan’s past week was improving by the minute now, so I thought I would go for a third blessing.
“I can’t think of anything else,” said Joan, shaking her head.
I was about to call it quits, when Joan said, “Last Monday, I won a National Award for being Volunteer of the Year. Does that count?”
“Well, are you happy about it?” I asked.
“Well, I’m looking forward to meeting the Queen,” said Joan.
Like Joan in the example above, when I think about it – when I actually wake up, take notice and am present for it – my life is pretty good. But I have the habit of putting the parts of my life that are actually working well on autopilot, and then focusing on those things I need to fix. I pay attention to the negatives rather than appreciate the positives. And I don’t think I’m alone in doing so.
This also gets into the issue of refocusing one’s life – something that was touched on in an earlier channeled session. The information that came through suggested that if people pay attention to the things they want in their lives, it can change their reality. That if one cultivates the joy and happiness that we experience, that they will expand. Instead of focusing my attention on my need to stay one more year in a location that has become …stifling, I should do what I can to live my best life here and now.
If I ignore the here and now, I’m ignoring my life.