I love birthdays. More-so than on New Year's Eve, birthdays are the time I reflect and try to quiet my monkey-mind, to decide what I need to shed and what I'd like to gain in the coming year.
Three years ago on my 30th, I boarded a plane to Kosovo, realizing a dream of living in a foreign country. Today I'm getting ready to go downtown to work, but today, and as often as possible, I want to look at the world through a traveler's eyes. To see detail, to allow myself to get lost and have an adventure. To talk to taxi drivers and people on the corner.
I want to pay closer attention to life. I want to be happy despite circumstances. My lovely and amazing sister and I were talking about the peace that passes understanding. She had just heard the verse recently in context, and pointed out that it is surrounded by words about focusing on what is good, what is true. To find peace in the midst of turmoil is possible by changing your focus. It all coincides with what I've been reading lately in Eckart Tolle's book about choosing your mood, your focus, your life, and being present in this moment.
Paul writes to the Philippians: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
"So Much Happiness"
It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.
But happiness floats.
It doesn't need you to hold it down.
It doesn't need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records ...
Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.
~Naomi Shihab Nye