A Life that is Good
You wake up feeling well rested. You see the sun shining around the cracks of your curtain in the bedroom and know in your bones it will be a warm day. Rising out of bed, your body feeling capable and strong, you move with ease to the kitchen. Preparing a morning tea or coffee you notice you’re enjoying each step of the process. Boiling the water, watching the cream pool into your favourite mug, spending focused time on this one easy task. Your house may be quiet or it may be busy, but no matter the chatter or lack thereof, you are peaceful in this moment. With your warm cup in your hands you move to the large window that you like looking out best. Or perhaps you walk out onto your porch or your lawn. You connect in with nature, either in it or of it, either seeing the gentle breeze ruffling the branches or blades of grass or feeling it in your own hair. This very moment is one of deep peace, of ease, of knowing that all is well in your world. It’s just one moment but it’s the foundation of your day, and your day is the foundation of your life. With this intentionality, you choose to curate each moment of your day, with the same focus on the goodness that’s inherent when you pay attention.
It feels like right now we’re being gifted this time. As the world is on pause we are being asked to choose if we go forward in peace or in misery. I’ve grappled with it myself — I have to consciously choose to see only what’s good in life right now, if I look too much outside my narrow scope everything feels too challenging, drenched in fear, entirely uncertain.
It’s interesting when speaking to different people about how they’re experiencing things right now. Many of my friends and family are feeling secure in their lives, which is a gift in itself, and so this feels but a blip. It feels like they’re being offered a break, the ability to slow down. For many others, they feel like this has been a punishment, too challenging to bear as the margins they’ve had in place for so long were already tenuous.
Regardless of which camp you fall into, and I know from my own experience that it can be both all at once, it is up to us to decide how we go forth.
We’ve lived in a world that’s been ever ramping up the pace, and the cost has been immense. With so many people sharing how right now has felt like a much deserved break I wonder, can they find use for this going forward? Can they find the strength and perseverance it will take to consciously choose this pace going forward? If we can recognize that this is a choice, then we can start finding the courage it takes to outwardly make it.
What is the truth for us?
For years I’ve been an active proponent of a slow and intentional life. It works for me. It’s funny how for many years I felt like maybe there was something wrong with my desire to change jobs frequently, to travel on a whim, to work part-time, to forego furthering my education when it didn’t resonate. I was told I had so much potential, I was capable of more, if I would apply myself earnestly and do the hard things, make the sacrifices, show up more, I would achieve something greater. I tried that for awhile too. It’s easy to get swept up into someone else’s version of you. I hustled, I was in the grind, and all the other catch phrases we’re sold. But I had to keep coming back to myself. To my values.
Teaching them young (the title was the best part of the book IMO)
I did achieve more, I could say, if I were to measure myself by finances or accolades, I was succeeding. And that did feel good and yet…nothing else was changing. My lifestyle felt maybe busier than before, but not richer. Not really. I got to see some incredible things, meet awesome people, but was that because I stretched or because that was the course of my life? I can’t say for sure.
I am a firm believer in our ability to do more than we might think is possible and so this feels nearly contradictory, but it’s not. We can both be who we are most happy being while we are still allowing ourselves the ability to grow into the person we’re becoming. Said another way, we can find peace and happiness in all we have and are in this moment and yet we can still know that more and better is to come. And so whether it’s a career, academia, partnership or a house we can be relentless in our pursuit of the happiness we’ll achieve by being happy as the journey unfolds. We can actively move towards everything we most want, our ideal life, by finding the little pockets of goodness that exist in our current lives. I know this:
When [pre-covid] I would do my groceries on a weekday morning after dropping the girls at school, I felt calm away from the bustle of the after-work shoppers. I felt ease going for long walks and stopping at cafes to have a bite to eat. I enjoyed working the small hours I set aside each day and checking off my to-do list. I savoured cooking a dinner for my family, where we all sat down together, as we always do.
And on one hand I wanted to do this quietly because it felt like there was privilege in my way of living that wasn’t afforded to everyone. There is the inherent privilege of the time and place in which I was born, but besides that, the truth is, there was choice.
So what is the truth for me? I was always too fearful of speaking it aloud in case it felt painful for someone else to hear. But I’m intentional, and I always have been. I have opted out more than in, I’ve changed lanes many many times. I’ve allowed myself the space to evolve and am conscious of the journey I’m on. And I understand that if what I will long for most is the slowness of watching the day unfold, of connecting with my kids, my husband and my friends on a quiet and still level, then I best decide now that that is what life will hold for me. If it’s not my choice, whose is it?
We outsource so much of our own personal responsibility at every turn, but we are faced with a series of choices continuously and it’s on us alone to make them. And to make them again if it doesn’t work out, lord knows I’ve done that time after time. I’ll continue to do that because I don’t have it all figured out. But I’m willing to keep trying every avenue to make certain that I’m living my life on my terms.
Right now as we seek our way through this challenge, we also can embrace the parts that feel good. We can stop treating this as a break and start to recognize what part of us is awakening now that it’s had the space, the rest and the time to do it. What part we will continue on, a real ‘new normal’, one that emphasizes a life that is good as determined by us alone.
This crew; they make life absolutely bonkers and totally worth living.
I invite you to consider the best parts you’re experiencing right now — whether you’re reading this as our globe faces a fear-based pandemic or at another time — get intentional about seeing more of this goodness expanding. Find out which of the things you are currently doing that you want more of and think about how you will choose to make that the priority. It doesn’t feel easy and I know that. It may take more sacrifice than you’re willing to make. But if you’ve felt a sense of ease, of quiet, of repose that you haven’t felt before I hope you’ll be brave enough going forward to create more of it.