Saturday, October 30, 2010 | By: Reenie

Bloom where you are planted

Today's Guest Post is from my friend Kea from Musings on a Small Life. Without further ado, here goes: 

Congratulations to Reenie on her achievement of 100 posts! This is a milestone worthy of celebration throughout Blog-Land.

I admit I was taken aback when she asked if I’d be willing to write something to mark the occasion. I’m not a writer, nor do I aspire to be one, and I live a very small and now solitary life—no grand travels, no exciting job, nothing, on the surface, to blog about.

And after I took leave of my senses and agreed, I was faced with the dilemma of what to write.

I’m not 20-something or 30-something anymore. 50 is looming closer than I care to admit and I haven’t many illusions left; perhaps none. I knew that whatever I wrote wouldn’t be filled with innocence and hope, wouldn’t be “happy happy joy joy.” That’s not reality, unless one is very young and innocent indeed, or particularly selfish and self-centered.

However, a quote I read a couple of months ago on one of those many blogs I follow (The Cat’s Meow!) struck a deep chord and stayed with me.

"It's life, that's all. There are no happy endings, just happy days, happy moments.” Jonathan Tropper, How to Talk to a Widower

This is something I have struggled with for a long time now: the understanding and acceptance that life doesn’t end happily, that illness, suffering and death come to us all, and that all we have is the Present Moment.

My childhood wasn’t particularly happy for a variety of reasons that no one need read; suffice to say I spent most of it, including my teen years and early twenties, either alone or keeping company with four-legged companions and Elder Trees. In retrospect, I see that I struggled, undiagnosed, with chronic moderate depression from an early age, perhaps as young as 7 or 8. Yet I don’t think I truly grasped that there are no happy endings, didn’t fully understand soul-deep suffering, until my own divorce after 11 years, followed by a failed rebound relationship and subsequent descent into the blackness of full-blown clinical depression.

In the 9+ years since, during which time I’ve again taken solace in Nature and with my fur family, I have come to feel that there is little in life but suffering for those who feel deeply.

I have come to realize that there are very few happy spousal relationships on this planet, very few lasting love bonds. I have come to understand that people partner for convenience, for finances, for companionship, for lust of course—but that none of these leads to that happy-ever-after we are conditioned to expect.

I have come to understand that even enduring marriages can be miserable, filled with little but suffering. What do you do, for instance, when your spouse has become physically frail and is slipping into dementia, as is the case with my mom and her older husband? Where is the happy ending in that? There is none.

Still, we continue to tell ourselves we will be happy when we grow up, when we have a job, when we buy a house, when we pay off our debts, when we have the latest and greatest gadgets, when we marry, when we have children, when we’re rid of our now-despised spouse, when we remarry, when we find a better job, when we retire.

But the reality is that “when” often never comes. We can be struck down by illness or accident at any moment of any day. Life can turn in a split second. The issue then becomes one of balancing on that razor’s edge – how to fully live each day, while understanding the impermanence of all things, including our own lives.

I think there are two factors in striving for this: One is to practice gratitude, no matter what your beliefs are (or aren’t), to start the day by being grateful for the breath of life moving through your body, for the morning, for the gift of another day. The other is to appreciate the small things that too many of us overlook – a good cup of coffee or tea, a scrumptious meal, the bark or meow of beloved fur family members, a sunrise or sunset, flowers, trees, the chirping of birds. Things too many humans don’t notice, caught up as they are on the roller coaster of acquiring or doing more, more, more.

But life is these small moments, broken only by a few euphoric highs and terrible lows. Most of our lives are spent in the day-to-day drudgery and triviality of our routines. If we don’t find happiness there, we will not find it anywhere.

There is another quote I read some years ago, by author Annie Dillard:

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Think about that. Really think about it. Because in a blink you’ll be 50 years old, 75, or 83 and will be wondering where the decades went and why you haven’t really lived.

Regardless of whether or not there is any sort of life beyond this physical plane, we pass through only once in these bodies, with these identities. Make the most of your time here. Don’t settle for second best, for less than your heart’s desire, if you have the option. And if you don’t have the option, try to find some good, some Joy and happiness, along your Path.

Bloom where you are planted.

Reenie's Note: 
If you enjoyed this little piece of wisdom like I did and would like to say 'hi', Kea writes here. I specially recommend that you read this, this and this- my favourite posts from her in the recent times :). Thank you, Kea. 
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