I'm a firm believer in Pablo Picasso's famous quote about every child being an artist. I have yet to encounter a child that hasn't dived right in at the chance to create something special out of anything from Play-doh to a pile of rocks and sticks. Children all seem to have an innate sense of order, balance and beauty that is completely unique to them and their perspective. For one child, a meticulously organized row of pennies might bring them joy, for others a splattered canvas covered in paint. As adults, we often seem to forget about the myriad paths to self expression, settling instead for the limited vocabulary of words, text and the occasional emoji. We seem to forget that movement is self expression and find fewer opportunities to dance around just for the joy of it. We seem to forget that there is inherent value in creating works of art or literature, instead shelving these pursuits for others that make more money but perhaps create little happiness. Today, I hope you take a few moments to think of the forms of expression that bring you the most fulfillment.
I have the power to create meaningful works in my life that celebrate my original vision of life. I am filled with creative potential at all times - all I need to do is connect with it and decide on the manner of its expression. When I look at my world, I don't just see buildings, cars and people, I see shapes, colors, designs, patterns and characters. The creative works that I make have meaning, even if no one else ever sees them, and even if I never make a single penny from doing them. Any time I stop to create a work that represents how I see the world or my personal emotional landscape, I am doing something worthwhile that honors my existence. My work is valuable purely because it is mine and no one else will ever have exactly the same perspective as me. Today, I will look for opportunities to infuse my daily life with creativity, whether it is a different way to style my hair or time spent on a canvas the size of an entire wall. When I am creative, I'm letting people into my private universe, and that is an inviting act of generosity, connection and love for those around me.
So few things inspire compassion as much as travel. I sometimes lament the fact that travel now seems to have morphed into something we do for invisible audiences, something to do to capture a worthy image for social media. A lot of my travel through the world predated even Facebook, and I'm grateful for that fact. With no invisible audience awaiting my reports back to home, I was able to fully immerse myself in other cultures, and completely redefine what it means to "have" a home, food, water, friends and family. I once wandered down a dirt road in Costa Rica past a woman residing in a one bedroom wooden house with her four children. In Belize, barefoot children chased after chickens beneath their home, a single room wooden structure on stilts, while their mother pumped water manually from the ground. Still, compassionate for the less fortunate is the baseline of compassion - the easiest kind of compassion to muster. True compassion requires love for all people and animals, even the ones we have never met. If our compassion is restricted only to what is most immediate around us, we have not even begun to scratch its true potential.
I will spend the day honoring my connection to all living things, including all people, animals and plants. I will recognize that there are many people in the world who do not feel that they can access the emotional, physical or monetary resources they need to overcome their burdens. I will send my love to every person in this world that feels genuine need and lack. I will send my love to every animal in this world that feels needlessly threatened by risk to its home environment. I will send my love to every plant species in on the Earth or sea that now struggles for its survival. I will set aside my anger at the causes of malaise in this world long enough to focus only on the impact such malaise has on living things, and the ways in which I may improve the circumstances of others. Above all, I will remember that the compassion I show to others is also reserved for myself, and show myself kindness and nonjudgement for my own feelings of need or lack.
The older I get, the easier I find it to maintain equanimity, particularly in the face of uncomfortable, upsetting or even dire circumstances. A lot of this seems to stem from the simple collection of experiences. Once you have overcome a circumstance that seemed terrible at the time, your definition of terrible becomes slightly altered. Once you have had the benefit of time and hindsight, it becomes easier to see the blessings that came from hardship. Calm isn't just something we seek during times of frenzy or challenges, it's something to find scattered throughout each day.
Today, I will pursue equanimity in all things and in every endeavor. I will recognize that although events and people may entice me to enter into a realm of destructive, negative or pessimistic thinking, I can make the choice to avoid engaging. I will recognize that although my body may speak to me through the language of stress and emotion, I can make the choice to avoid enhancing. I recognize that my emotions change like the waves according to circumstances, including emotions that help me to experience stress or anxiety. Today, I let go of urgency and trust myself to recognize the difference between what is urgent and important, recognizing that they are not always the same. Today, I let go of unproductive tension, and keep only the bit of adrenaline and cortisol that will help me to focus on what is truly important for my well-being and valued goals. I embrace the alert calm that is the natural state of all people and bring awareness to anything that threatens it. Regardless of my outside circumstances today, I embrace serenity and love, and seek only those things in my environment.
There is such an onslaught of information each and every day that it can be difficult to wade through everyone else's opinions to reach our own truth. Would we want to wear that coat if we hadn't just seen it on the back of someone attractive on Instagram? Would we still want to get that graduate degree if we had never heard our parents' own aspirations for our career? Would we show up to that fitness class if none of our friends were going to be there? Would we vote for this person if we had never heard someone else's opinion favoring them? It's always useful to check in from time to time and ensure that we are living our lives from our own sense of what is valuable and important, instead of being led around by others all of the time.
I vow to take time today to reflect on what my daily life says about me and what I value and love. Where my daily actions do not line up with my highest vision for myself, I will begin the process of parting from those actions and replacing them with ones that speak to my truest ideals. Today, I'll take a moment to reflect on my ancestry and family lineage and consider the myriad ways in which the experiences of those people have impacted my own. I will also acknowledge how family lineage impacts others, understanding that perceived "flaws" may have their root in such legacies. The friend we secretly judge as "cheap" may be influenced by her Depression era relatives. The love who is not emotionally available may be influenced by the premature severance of his or her parent's partnership. I will also acknowledge the messages that I receive from my present environment about who I should be as a friend, lover, partner, coworker, parent, steward, boss, employee, member or any of the other roles that may occupy my life. I vow to be attentive to the voice inside of me that will tell me when these messages do not ring true with who I actually am or what I am intended to do while on this Earth.
I was inspired to create this page in memory of a dear friend I lost to suicide. She inspired me all of the time with her writing, which she shared with the world as one of the earliest recognizable "bloggers." I'm saving this page for thirty-one days of little pick me ups, in the hope that they might help someone else somewhere lift themselves up when they are feeling low.