So I’m standing at the start of a new decade today and feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude, peace, and contentment. I know how blessed I am, and I can honestly say that today — maybe for the first time in my many years — I am completely at home in my own skin, happy with where I am in my life, and very much aware that it could all change in an instant and so I should take every moment as a gift and simply Be. Here. Now. (As Ram Dass taught.)
Earlier this year, I did a heart-centered program by Danielle LaPorte that required me to dig deep into my core desires, after an arduous process of looking at the stories I’ve been telling myself for far too long, stories that come not only from my history and my experiences but, often, from other people’s histories and experiences and views of who I should be. Little by little I could feel the masks dropping away, and I could feel deep love and compassion for the parts of me I’ve always held at a distance or hid or hated. Fascinating and fulfilling.
In the end, my core desires weren’t about money or success or anything you can achieve or buy in a worldly way. They were contentment, connection, creativity, and love. Tall order, and yet most mornings when I wake up and assess where I am I, I smile to myself as I realize I am there at the moment, and I am grateful. And sometimes, when I’m especially aware, I say a little prayer that when things are not so rosy and a particularly rough challenge surfaces, I can somehow find the courage to stay in the moment and find the lessons and the gifts and the divinity — or Spirit, if you prefer — that is always swirling in and around me, and you and everything and everyone else.
When I peer into the coming decade, there are some fears, to be sure, because it’s undeniable that I’m on the downward slide of life, not in a bad way, just in the circle-of-life way. And that’s okay, even if it’s tinged with a little trepidation. Because if I can learn to be present — really present — and grateful, even when things are not going exactly as I want them to go, I can hold onto contentment and inner joy no matter what. I have no illusions that this will be easy, nothing good in life is, but I do believe that I am finally willing to do the work required. Daily work. Hour-by-hour work.
I grabbed a Mary Oliver book, Devotions, off my bookshelf before I taught yoga class yesterday, and it fell open to her poem “Snow Geese.” I knew as soon as I read it that it was the heart of the dharma talk I would give that day and completely fitting for this time of year and time of life.
“Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.” — Mary Oliver
I hope you’ll join me on this journey through the next decade. Who knows where it will take us? Let’s keep each other company because, after all, to quote Ram Dass yet again: “We are all just walking each other home.”
P.S. If you’d like to read my final Life in My 50s post, you can find that HERE.