Sunday, July 5, 2020

Eagle Butte
Partly sunny
Partly sunny

Life isn’t about chasing happiness

The sun shone brightly over Luperon Harbor when the rain fell in heavy drops. My father, who rarely sounds desperate or hurried, anxiously ordered the hatches closed.

I rushed topside and shut all but the galley hatch and one hatch over the main cabin, because despite the cool rain, the air was still thick and the cabin heat insufferable without the breeze.

I went back below and my Dad went on deck. A few minutes later he called me up to see the rainbow that formed over the marina.

It was already fading by the time I pulled out my camera and snapped a few shots. Rather than appearing to disappear, it seemed to be stretching as far as it could over the buildings and the land, as if it were reaching for the Atlantic Ocean, lapping at the island’s shores.

We stood there for a few minutes, watching as the rainbow held onto its glow with a fierce and stubborn effort.

Isn’t that what we do when we shine? We hold onto the moment as long as we can? We reach a pinnacle of seeming perfection — a happy state, a perfect mindset for work, the ideal response to a comment — our moment hangs in the air and we don’t want it to fade.

We seek the conditions that led to the moment and try to repeat them like a pitcher before a game, or a person on the road to addiction — we ritualize the movements that lead to the moment we never want to fade.

I learned long ago perfect moments repeated are like a roll of the dice, and when they do repeat themselves, we should appreciate them for what they were.

While I am not opposed to trying to repeat these perfect moments, I recognize that there are times when people try so desperately hard to be that happy or that graceful again that they spend more time in desperation than they do in happiness or satisfaction.

One of the hardest truths in life for people to accept is that we cannot always be happy. We cannot always be the best version of ourselves. We cannot always have a great time.

In yoga class, the instructors begin with asking practitioners to check in with their body today. One’s body is not in the same condition as it was the day before. Sometimes one’s right side is tighter than it was yesterday, or one’s balance is better than it was the last time.

After the practice, the instructor will ask how you are now. Every time, I am better than I was when I started, even if I am not as good today as I was yesterday.

Life is an oscillation of highs and lows. On the short scale, close up, we seem to rush through the lows and chasing the highs. We are so focused on rushing and chasing that we fail to see we have been on a steady incline or decline the whole time.

I think and believe the trick is to see which incline you are on. If on a decline, we need to stop immediately, and reconsider the direction we are traveling. An about-face may be in order.

If a person is chasing the highs with meth or abusiveness, then there is a good chance the lows are getting worse and the highs harder to maintain and sustain.

Even if a person is on an incline, he or she can lose sight of progress in the ups and downs of good and bad days.   

While I am not always able to be the best in my yoga practice every day, over the past several months, I have noticed an overall improvement in my flexibility and strength. The change is not necessarily one that others can easily identify, but I notice the difference when I think back to where I was in May versus where I am now.

Life is like this. We can make incremental changes in ourselves as allow ourselves to enjoy the highs and work through the lows, rather than trying to rush through, to or from them.

To do this, we must appreciate the moments of happiness, of anger and of sadness, moments which give us perspective and help us understand what really makes us the best we can be and makes us the happiest we can be.