Sunday, November 24, 2013

Making Sense of the Senseless

I've been having a tough time since this car accident trying to make sense of why it happened. As much as I don't want to, I keep replaying the incident and I keep crying asking myself "why?" It's one of the few times something has happened to me that I can't explain, that I can't justify as being the result of some previous known action. When I was 15 I was stung 23 times by yellow jackets, but that's because I ran over a nest. Three years ago, I sprained my ankle while walking down the stairs because I wasn't looking as I turned up the volume on my cellphone.

This though? This I cannot explain -- I had a walk signal, the car had stopped, he saw me, and yet as I crossed he hit me anyway. The accident keeps replaying in my head like a bad song. Most people tell me some things cannot be explained, or sh*t happens and that's the end of it. I can't accept that. I can't swallow that bad things happen and that's the end of it. Even disasters like floods and hurricanes I understand because they are consequences of natural forces.

What I'm falling back on is my faith, my spiritual philosophy. The night of the accident I felt some weirdness in the air. A minute before I was hit, I contemplated what I would do if I was hit by a car. I'm starting to believe the incident was inescapable, that for whatever reason it had to happen to me. In my spiritual path, we believe in the law of karma, or action, but it's not limited to my current lifetime. Karma can carry over for many lifetimes and follows the principle of physics -- for every action there is a reaction. Maybe this car accident was a reaction from something lifetimes ago that finally got expressed.

I bring this up, the idea of something being inescapable, because it's the only way I know to continue to feel safe in the world. I've done some trauma work with my therapist and she reminds me the world is usually safe, that I've crossed the street billions of times and been fine. Believing the accident was meant to be allows me to cross the street in confidence (because I'm already a defensive pedestrian). It allows me to believe I really am safe and protected. That perhaps like I wrote about in May, I can be safe within danger because this incident was not preventable. That maybe higher power is still taking care of me all the time, is protecting me, but the car accident was something I had to experience. Maybe the reason will become clear, or maybe it's just one of those karmic reactions, but I don't need to worry every time I see a car driving toward me.

I have no idea whether this post will help other people, but for me the way I'm making sense of the senseless is by choosing to believe in the laws of nature, choosing to believe some things are not preventable -- especially when they seem so deliberate as in my case -- and that I can still be safe, protected, and taken care of even when I undergo hardship. Maybe there's some sense within the senseless after all.

I dream of a world where we're able to accept some things are meant to be. A world where we still have trust and faith in something greater than ourselves especially when life hands us lemons. A world where we're able to grapple with life's difficulties and still retain our joy and optimism.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Happiness Not Required

First off, I want to make a distinction between happiness and joy. According to BrenĂ© Brown, happiness is tied to circumstance and joyfulness is tied to spirit and gratitude. Even the Greek origins of the word demonstrate that concept. The Greek word for happiness, Makarios, was used to describe the freedom of the rich from normal cares and worries, or to describe a person who received some form of good fortune such as money or health. The Greek word for joy is chairo, which was described as the “culmination of being,” and the “good mood of the soul.”

I’ll admit I’ve been chasing happiness. When I was younger I thought being thin would “make” me happy and later I thought having a boyfriend would “make” me happy. For the past few years it’s been about having the perfect home space. I’ve been chasing a feeling, trying to recreate an experience from my past, believing if I just moved somewhere else then I’d be happy.
"Happiness runs in a circular motion, life is like a little boat upon the sea. . ."
On Friday, I asked myself, “Rebekah, do you really need to be happy where you live?” The answer is, “No.” I realized sometimes my needs and my happiness converge and sometimes they do not. Right now my home meets my needs – it’s quiet, I live alone, I can afford my rent, and I’m surrounded by nature. But am I happy? No. And that’s OK.

To me, being an adult means understanding I won’t always be happy and much like I wrote about in my post “Self-Will and the Magic Pill,” there’s no magic pill or formula or circumstance that will invoke happiness within me. I’m choosing to see happiness as something I stumble upon, something that is bestowed upon me, and not something I can seek.

What I can seek, what I can cultivate, is joy. Joy comes from gratitude and appreciation, from counting my blessings, from connecting with others, and choosing to see the good in my life.

I guess what I’m saying is right now I’m finding getting my needs met are more important than being happy. I’m letting myself off the hook in terms of searching for happiness because in the last two years especially, I find it’s a never-ending quest. How can I chase a feeling? How can I possibly know what elements are required to create happiness? I thought living in this cottage in Oakland would make me happy, and it hasn’t. But instead of trying to do something about it, I’m letting myself be.

Many people find themselves unhappy – they thought the great job, nice car, beautiful house, loving partner, or whatever, would make them happy and it did – temporarily, but then it wore off because happiness is not permanent. Happiness is something that happens. But joy? Joy is an inside job.

I dream of a world where we realize we don’t have to be happy. A world where we no longer seek good fortune but let good fortune come to us. A world where we practice being joyful through gratitude and appreciation. A world where we understand sometimes it’s more important to get our needs met than it is to be happy.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

More Kind than Cruel

I think most of you know this because you follow me on facebook, but if not, I was in a car accident on Tuesday. Rather, I was hit by a car on Tuesday as I walked through an intersection. Nothing too terrible – I scraped my chin, my jaw took the impact, and I’m unable to chew for the time being, but nothing is broken, I walked away from the accident, and I’m physically in pretty good shape, considering. The police already ran the license plates and nothing came back, so it is unlikely the driver will be caught. Emotionally, I’m pretty shaken.

I’m still scared, but what I have to remind myself over and over again is the world is more kind than cruel. After the driver who hit me drove off, the person behind him stopped, and wrote down the license plate number and his telephone number in case I needed anything. He also gave me some paper napkins and an alcohol swab to clean the blood off my face and hands. Another person also stopped and offered to drive me home because clearly the last thing I wanted was to walk. And another person, a woman, stopped just to see if I was OK. I have to remind myself for every jerk in the world, there are at least three kind people.
love of the best kind
I know I could have chosen another image to demonstrate kindness but this one was too sweet to pass up. Copyright by Tolly P.
On Friday night, I chatted with my next door neighbor and she agreed with my sentiment. She’s a therapist specializing in abuse and trauma, so she’s seen some pretty dark things, but even she assured me people are inherently good. I’ve also seen that to be the case – the receptionist at my chiropractor’s office offered to pick me up for an appointment after she learned it takes me an hour to get to the office via public transportation. Someone I’ve never met in person called me up and asked if I’d like her to come over and keep me company after the incident when she read about it on facebook.

There is a lot of love for me. There are many people in the world who want to support me. It’s difficult when things like this happen, but I also think it’s important to retain my world view, my optimism, and my belief in the goodness of others. For the first time I understand it’s a conscious choice I have to make instead of a default belief. It’s not easy; it no longer comes as natural to me, but even more so I see how much it’s necessary. I cannot prevent bad things from happening, I can’t stop drivers from speeding up to hit pedestrians like in my case, I can’t prevent break-ins, I can’t halt violence and poverty and destruction, but I sure as heck can show some kindness and compassion after the fact. I’m starting to believe that’s maybe what life is all about.

I dream of a world where we choose to focus on the goodness in others instead of the bad. A world where we recognize the world is more kind than cruel. A world where we show up for one another to the best of our capacity, understanding support may come from the most unlikely places. A world where we understand we can’t prevent bad things from happening, but we can definitely determine what happens afterward.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I Love You for Who You Are

I didn’t think I was going to write any new material today because I am zonked, but then inspiration hit and I realized I wanted to share this.

Lately, perfectionism and people pleasing have been coming up for me. I’ve held this belief that if I wasn’t perfect, if I wasn’t giving of myself, others wouldn’t continue to like me, wouldn’t want to maintain a relationship with me. There’s been a fear that if I didn’t constantly give my gifts in friendship, people I love would disappear.

A lot of my past work using affirmations has been saying, “Rebekah, I love you for who are,” and that’s great! It’s been so helpful and has completely changed my life. However, right or wrong, I’m at the point now where I want to believe the same is true of friends, i.e. that my friends also love me for who I am, not what I do or give. I know I can’t ask anyone to say these things to me, but perhaps you feel the same and would like to hear it, so I’m going to tell it to you, my readers, my friends, the people I associate with. Here is my open letter to you:

Dear (insert your name here),

I love you for exactly who you are, right now. I love your authenticity, your vulnerability. I love your quirks. I love the things that set you apart from the crowd. I love how you stand up for yourself and how you hold fast to your convictions. I love that you’re willing to be weird because in your weirdness there is you and I love you.

I want to tell you, you don’t have to change for me. You don’t have to be perfect for me. Perfection does not equal love, but humanness does. You’re experimenting in life and so am I and I love you for it. I love that you’re willing to show up for life, to have the courage to keep going even after you make mistakes. I love your boldness.

Please keep being you and please know that if other people don’t like you for who you are, they’re not meant to be in your life. Birds of a feather flock together and you are in my flock. We are meant to stick together, chinks and all.

I love when you’re real with me. I love when you let me in and show me what’s really going on with you. I love when your walls are down, when you’re honest, when you’re crying. That is how I connect with you. I don’t want to see your mask; I can’t click with your mask, so please take it off when you’re with me.

You are a bright, shining light, and I want you to know it’s safe for you to be you, especially around me.

All my love,

I dream of a world where we know we are loved for who we are. A world where we realize the people in our lives love us for us, and if they don’t, the relationship is not serving our best interests. A world where we keep tearing our walls down because our authenticity is what brings about the most love.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.