Cradled by a posy of blessings

Train tracks in rural area.

If you take a deep breath, calm down and listen, all things can be dealt with in some way. Just breathe.
                                                                    Katrina Vella

Do you ever feel like you are derailing? That life is so hectic you don’t know whether you are coming or going? I’ve had a few weeks like that. I’ve been working on a wide range of projects at work (all terribly exciting and totally divergent) all with short timelines. I’ve traveled so much for work recently that one morning I woke up and didn’t know where I was. Feeling the pressure of deadlines and being in constant transit took a physical and mental toll. I felt like I was trapped in a fast-moving train heading for a cliff.  Several dear friends and family members have suffer personal tragedies, and while it’s not me experiencing that terrible grief,  it’s heartbreaking not to be able to ease their pain.

Of course I realised something had to give before I crashed or plunged into the depths of some great abyss. As I took action in that direction, the universe conspired to deliver a posy of blessings.

I took a day to find some calm. I always have a sense of unease taking a day off work, even when it is sanctioned, and this day was no different. However,  as the day unfolded I realised that I’d made the right decision and settled.

On the eve of this magical day I went to the cinema, something I don’t do often. I’d won tickets to the pre-release of a film. It wasn’t a great film but I appreciated the night out, it was fun, especially because it was out of routine. Arriving home I didn’t set my alarm for my usual 4.30 am rise and I snuggled down under a warm comforter, as the temperature had dropped significantly.

Arousing from my slumber I was surprised to note I’d slept an hour later than usual.  Feeling slightly dazed but energised I hit the pavement for my walk. It was brisk out.  I went out in my usual gear of shorts and t-shirt but others were rugged up in long pants and jumpers.  Walking later, after the sun had risen, I met a lot of people I don’t normally encounter and so had many warm interactions, smiles and good mornings from people I haven’t met before. Of course my attire was the focus of many comments. While it was brisk I was warm from the movement. These random interactions were buoying.

What was especially warming about my walk was being transported back to my childhood, and into my grandparents’ kitchens, when the distinct aroma from the Weet-Bix factory enveloped the air around me. Weet-Bix are a wheat based biscuit breakfast cereal here in Australia. I don’t eat them now and I never really enjoyed them in the warmer weather but in winter time, my grandmothers would pour warm water over them to soften them, then heat milk on the stove to drown them in, after swirling lashings of honey over the top. It wasn’t exactly food for the gods but the smell of warm Weet-Bix is divine. Being  reminded of the many winter mornings I had spent being loved and cared for by my Grandmothers was a beautiful omen for the day.

Arriving home I sent my friend a message and received a thoughtful blessing from her. She wished me an enjoyable day and “some peaceful space” with a little emoji flower attached🌸. Simple words but their beauty and the heartfelt care and concern behind them struck me.

Flicking briefly onto a social media site the first post I came across was from another friend, whose flower photo seemed to fill the room with its vibrant colour.  It was a simple flower, nothing flashy about it, but it had a stunning effect, and lifted my mood.

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I baked cookies and soon had my house smelling like a warm and buttery. I love the smell of cookies baking at the best of times but on a cold day, there’s something extra special about it.

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I felt as though someone had picked a posy of wild flowers and delivered them to me this morning. I was caught in a net, suspended and cradled from a fall. I was reminded that amid all the sadness, the hustle and bustle and the struggles of life, there is joy and beauty and a multitude of blessings. The key is to take the time to see them and appreciate them. I was reminded too by the words of a wise woman who counsels that; if you take a deep breath, calm down and listen, all things can be dealt with in some way. Just breathe.

Wishing you a posy of blessings today too.

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Two pressing questions I need answered.

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Whatever is in me is stronger than what is out there to defeat me.  Caroline Myss

What is the point of perspective? You know those times when things are pretty shitty and life seems difficult then something happens to you, someone you know or in the world and BAM everything is suddenly put into perspective.  What’s the point of that perspective gaining moment?

Numerous times I have had cause to pause and consider this, either as a result of my own experiences or those of others I have witnessed.  Numerous times I have experienced the clarity that comes from such a wake up call and the conviction that I will live differently, be different as a result. Then, as often happens, the perspective fades, the conviction dwindles and the clarity smudges and becomes murky again.  Why does the perspective fade?

In search of some answers this is what I have discovered, so far.

The definition of perspective , which originates from the Latin word perspicere meaning transparent, clear, to see through, is a term used today, especially in art, to refer to a process of representing, on a flat surface, an image as seen by the eye. From this Wikipedia definition I get the sense that perspective, related to my questions, is about seeing something in relation to where we stand and seeing something from another person’s view-point.  This led me then to the Dalai Lama (Yes, it’s a leap but go with me on this).

The Dalai Lama believes the purpose of life is to be happy. He discusses how humans naturally prefer happiness to suffering.  I do not wish to misquote the Dalai Lama but in the interests of expediency I hope to paraphrase what I learnt.  Happiness and suffering fall into two categories: physical and mental. From what I understand, our mind can influence the degree of our happiness and suffering. It’s there, in our mind, that our suffering inflates, drags us down, consumes us.  It’s there too that we can learn to heal from the tragedies, upsets, upheavals we face.

Suffering helps us develop compassion and love for others, this aids us in supporting our own sense of wellbeing too. Compassion and love help us to maintain hope. If we are discouraged and lose hope, says the Dalai Lama, we risk diminishing our ability to face difficulties. The reality of other people’s suffering helps us improve our determination and capacity to address not only theirs but our own suffering as well.  So, if I understand this correctly, when our ability to develop compassion for others grows, our own inner strength and peace increases. Therefore, regardless of the severity of what we ourselves are facing, be it minor first world problems or nightmarish injustices, these issues become easier (perhaps marginally) for us to deal with, their weight becomes less burdensome, the edges softened and, through this, our mental stability increases which in turns allows our physical wellbeing to be addressed. I guess, in this way, there is a small shift in the balance of the universe also.

Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom. Rumi

I know for myself, whenever faced with a ‘perspective’ defining moment, I realise how very small I am in the grand scheme of things, how tiny I am in the cosmos, and then come the resolutions to live differently, to think and to act differently.   This mental state lasts for  a few weeks, or months, depending on the severity and impact of both the initial situation and the ‘wake up call’. I determine to focus on what really counts in life and then, slowly but surely small issues creep up that become over inflated problems and the cycle begins again.  Am I, through this process, increasing my resilience? Am I, through this process, increasing my compassion? Am I, through this process, making any progress or contributing in some  minute way to the greater good?

Caroline Myss talks about healing being a type of pain that allows us to become aware of our own strengths and weaknesses and of our ability and capacity to love and do damage to ourselves and others. She talks of how the most challenging person to control in life is within each of us. Myss says that if we define ourselves by our wounds (our suffering) we lose our physical and spiritual energy and therefore risk illness. So, these wake up calls, are they designed to pull us back from the brink of whatever small or large tragedy we are facing to repair us a little so we can continue to function purposefully in the world? Are they designed to allow us, through our empathy and compassion, to lighten the way for another, so they too can step back from the brink of suffering, if even just a few inches, to catch their breath?

If what Myss and the Dalai Lama say is true, that what affects the mind affects the body, is there some grand universal plan to keep us on a somewhat even keel so that what drains our spirit is not allowed to completely drain our body?  So that when one is addressed the other is also addressed?  Is this too grand a leap to make?

Is this why our perspective fades? Is it because, once we have righted ourselves a little the urgency dissipates? Is it because once liberated from the crushing weight of our problems, once our head is again just above water and we drink in more resuscitating air, our quest to change is abandoned in the luxury of the respite?  Is it because these tiny moments of grace are enough to transform us and the world by infinitesimal increments? Is it part of a beautiful and elegant design that we each must improve ourselves and make continual small contributions to  ensure the cultivation and preservation of compassion and love in the world?

I fear my thoughts have steered me off course. Perhaps my initial conclusions are outlandish and naive.  So, where am I as a result of my initial pondering?  I’m not greatly more enlightened and I now have more questions than answers.  What I do I know for sure is: that suffering is part of life; that we will have things put into perspective for us is inevitable; that this helps us regain a semblance of equilibrium in our search for happiness; that perspective will fade is also inevitable. I know too that to make change as a result of our experience is hard and not always actioned (how to address this and ensure our resolve counts is too large a question to tackle here).  Something else I know for sure is that the beauty of the human spirit lies in its strength to overcome, to feel compassion for others in our darkest times and to continue to love despite the travesties and trials of life.

What in your experience is the purpose of perspective and why do you think seems to fade?

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