Joy.

The world is a big place, with many chances and opportunities, but our path is woven in the stars, and the best we can do is to gather up all the silken shining strands, and make a big fat braid out of them, and swing the hell out of the damn thing.

I’ve made mistakes and I’ve made good; and I feel sometimes as if I have lived several lifetimes. But it’s in those lifetimes that I’ve learnt that joy lies in giving your limited time, energy and emotions to the people who know you and love you; who have faith and confidence in you; who have fought battles with you and walked with you through the storms that have come. We can’t choose everything, but what choice there is, we should learn to take and make and bake the crap out of!

Joy lies in knowing what you love, deep down, and then finding the courage and developing the skill to chase it– chase it hard, chase it everywhere it leads– chase it down rabbit holes deep into the ground, where every single one of us will eventually end up.

It’s in taking the time to do what evokes happiness in you. Because, you know, nothing and no one can “make you happy” or “bring you joy”. Everything we feel is what we have cultivated in ourselves. We can only give as much love as we are capable of, though the well deepens with empathy and compassion; we can only feel as much happiness as we have taught ourselves to feel and let ourselves experience; we can only give as much as we know how to give, and in the way that we know how to give. All that things outside of us can do is bring out what we already have.

Most of all, joy lies in deciding what to fear; if to fear. Every moment spent in fear of things beyond our control is a pitifully wasted moment. None of us knows how much time we have here. I have seen and heard and experienced and witnessed lots of things that should make me hesitant and cautious and frighten me. And it has, in the past. But, you know, I have been given much for which to be thankful; and from that, I’ve earned and learned and built other things, for which I am also thankful. And fear would make me waste all of that; everything that I have dived into, heart, body, mind and soul– the way I have always and ever done anything and everything (is there any other way?). Fear would make me waste everything good I have ever done with my life.

So, I will not fear. I will spend time on people and activities I love. I will find my courage and develop my skill. I will mend what I can and accept what I can’t. And I will gather up all those silken threads that weave my life, and make a big fat braid, and I will swing on it, and enjoy the scenery, and be happy and grateful and the best damn version of me.

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I’m grateful for amazing friends.

I don’t know what I did to deserve them; my best friends in the world are just the most wonderful, solid people, from whom I have learnt, and continue to learn, much about love, life, loyalty, survival, friendship, beauty, courage and wisdom. Thank you, Universe/Life, for my BFFs, one of the foundation stones of my life, without whom life would mean much less.

I recently wrote this for one of my best friends (you know who you are!), who has allowed me to put it up here:

You are shiny pastel powder-coated steel
from the forges (fuelled by broken love and wings)
that turn to ash the petty weaknesses and peel
back the gauzy childhood layers to reveal
rare liquid diamond crazy-angel heart-strings.

Yet Life glazed you with a heart upon your sleeve
and set you on such winding, wondrous paths
which you tread with an ancient grace and ease–
and yours was such a complicated weave!–
with no bitterness or helplessness or wrath.

Old soul, you bring a light into the lives you touch;
generous of spirit to a fault, and gentler
than those spoilt by more, beaten by less– such
defines your unshakeable core. You give so much
love, time, and trust; you own the things that matter.

I’m grateful for standup comedy.

Ahh, standup comedy. When everything is grey, bleak and dreary, it is like emotional comfort-food for the soul, the way one eats pasta or soup noodles or buttery mash potato on a cold winter day. A reprieve from real-life by laughing at real-life; a way to beat the demons down with belly-aching, rip-roaring, face-cramping laughter. I absolutely love to laugh. I’ve attended at least nine Melbourne International Comedy Festivals throughout my life, since I was 16, diligently booking tickets ahead of time; and, pretty much anywhere I am in the world, if a famous or up-and-coming or favourite or recommended comedian is doing a show in town, I’m there, even if I have to buy the cheapest tickets at the time. This is one of my favourite comedians, Danny Bhoy, at the Melbourne Athenaeum (I love it when comedians localise humour!):

I also really enjoyed Maz Jobrani, Russell Peters, Kitty Flanagan, Paul McDermott and his crew, Steve McIntyre…

I’m so grateful for standup comedy, and to standup comedians for being willing to expose their insecurities, vulnerabilities, griefs, sorrows and daily mundane grind to turn them into laughter and perspective, throwing them in such beautiful comic relief.

I’m grateful for forgiveness.

Flower

“He who is forgiven much loves much, but he who forgives little loves little.” – an interpretation of Luke 7:47

I am by no means a religious person, but, as I’ve mentioned before, I think there are timeless spiritual lessons and much eternal wisdom to be learned from texts that have been revered through the ages. This particular verse struck me almost dumb (clearly, the opinionated part of me recovered quickly), as I realised that in all this struggle and questing to find and discover love, self-love, myself, and the best in others, one huge essential lesson I have been dodging and dreading is forgiveness.

I have been awful at forgiveness, both of myself and of others. Hurt has always cut me very deeply, and the memory of pain is incredibly visceral; like digital copies of moments in time. My friends can testify to my vivid memory. What they can’t really see is how raw the lashes of hurt remain and for how long.

Of course, I do forgive some things and some people more easily than others. I suppose it is like that for everyone, depending on each person’s particular deep vulnerabilities and wounds.

But I want to be good at love. There was a time when I was simply overflowing with it, and had plenty of love to give. And I want to be good at life. And I think that no one can be good at either without learning when it’s time to drop the weights and lighten the load– no more self-punishment, no more punishing the other person, and no more resentment and hatred. I don’t know why it is so difficult to let go of things in the past, of our images of who we are based on a moment in time. I think it’s that bad habit of letting negative bias, ego and pride run the show that makes us stew in resentment, anger and vengefulness.

And remember: there is always, always more than one side to a story.

Picture attribution: Attribution Some rights reserved by juliejordanscott.

I’m grateful for adventures.

hiking

I know why we have adventures. We have them to become more truly, more deeply, more honestly ourselves. Adventure is the other end of the continuum from Armchair, the diametrical opposite of “what if” and “maybe”. It’s confronting ourselves as we are, all the uncomfortable things that we are, by testing all our own ideas (and fantasies) of ourselves. Wants, likes, dislikes, limits, consequences, and values can no longer remain hypothetical when we go out and seek adventure.

And I don’t mean just the “strap on a backpack and get on a plane” type adventure, I mean all of life’s adventures, the big ones and the little ones. Anything that pushes me out of my comfort zone, that feels terrifying but right, thrilling but scary, or uncomfortable but not in a bad way (you know… that queasy feeling just before an economics exam or when standing on a glass tile a hundred feet in the air; NOT the gut feeling that’s telling you to run like f*ck, because with that one, well, you really should run like f*ck).

At the pinnacle of Adventure, I would place leaps of faith. Those adventures make you or break you then remake you.

Yes, I’m grateful for all the adventures I willingly stepped into, as well as the ones that dragged me along by the wrist, yelling, “you’ll thank me later, I swear!”.


Picture attribution: Hiking, TromsoAttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by GuideGunnar – Arctic Norway

I’m grateful for authentic people.

I love Sarah Bareilles’s Brave music video.

Despite having faced many of my fears head-on, I would never have the guts to do this, even though I know it’s probably the precise fear that I should tackle with the same crazy-enthusiasm as I’ve tackled all the others. It’s probably the one fear that could change my life: the fear of embarrassment, of what other people think. They heard the music; they had the moves– so, who cares if those who couldn’t hear the music thought them insane? Who cares? I love how free and happy I felt watching this video– a vicarious sensation, but such a light and lovely one.