Sunday, December 15, 2013

It IS a Beautiful Morning With My New, Selfish Mantra: Everything's Going My Way

It is 5:41 and I’m up before the sun on a cold (for southern California) morning, barreling my way down my street, aware only that my fingers are cold but I’m too tired to dig in my bag for my gloves.

Then I realize there's a song playing on repeat in my head. “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day…” and I laugh out loud. It’s a song from my childhood, and I don’t know the rest of the words, except the ones I think I’m making up. “Everything’s clear in the evening, everything’s going my way.”

It’s a song from the musical OKLAHOMA.  I sometimes confuse real life with the movies and stories I grew up reading, watching, and singing around the house.  Labeling a friend a “kindred spirit” was fine and all, but when I slipped into Green Gables lingo and asked if she’d be my “bosom friend” I got a decidedly different look.

It IS a beautiful morning. And I become aware of the sound of my sneakers, a rhythmic padding on the sidewalk, the fact that I’m leaning into the uphill climb, my neck tense with forward motion. And notice that when I relax my body into the pace of my brisk stroll, I don’t feel as cold.

“Everything’s clear in the evening, everything’s going my way,” was actually written: “I’ve got a wonderful feeling, everything’s going my way,” by Rodgers & Hammerstein.  It seems so blatantly blind to reality, perfect for a musical, but not MY life – of course not everything is going my way.

Or is it?  When I’m present and aware that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, even the frustrating or painful parts of life have taught me far more than when everything seems to be going my way.  Though I also love those moments of feeling swept along in a feel-good film, the times I’m aware that I’m incredibly lucky and try to remember to feel grateful for the good. 

But it’s those frustrating or scary moments, when someone is being a selfish jerk and demanding what I can’t possibly give, when I can’t find work and I’m barely breathing, in panic about how to pay a bill, or I’m stuck in selfishness, wondering why I sat next to THAT lady on the bus who won’t stop talking about her achy knee or her kids who won’t call her back, that I have to breathe deep, relax my shoulders and neck, and sing this new mantra, “Oh, what a beautiful day,  I’ve got a wonderful feeling, everything’s going my way.”

I’m where I need to be. Figuring out my next job, how to live within my lean budget. How to be present for the needy lady who just wants someone to hear her story.

"No one ever tells us to stop running away from fear. We are very rarely told to move closer, to just be there, to become familiar with fear. I once asked the Zen master Kobun Chino Roshi how he related with fear and he said, ‘I agree. I agree.’ But the advice we usually get is to sweeten it up, smooth it over, take a pill, distract ourselves, but by all means, make it go away.

"So the next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky. This is where the courage comes in. Usually we think that brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear.” ~ Pema Chödrön

(P.S. - the other lyrics are lovely, too, for meditation)

All the sounds of the earth are like music,
All the sounds of the earth are like music,
The breeze is so busy it don't miss a tree

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