In July, I wrapped up my 46th revolution around the sun and began my 47th. The first 48 days of this revolution have been some of my best days as an adult, even though the last time I wrote about how hot it was in my van with my dog.
The week after my birthday was spent in leisure on our Washington Island property. I spent the days with my wife reading, lying in the hammock or sitting around the fire, cooking food outdoors, eating delicious carry out, drinking coffee, walking to the lake and wading in the water, and being with each other.
During that week and for the past month and a half, I was able to contemplate a few things in my life. I want this year to be governed by three things—to filter every decision through them, like guiding principles—and I am trying to say yes to things that bring me joy,
The first guiding principle is this meditation, which I read in a book, but I don’t remember which one: “What did you do today to make this world a better place? What difference did you make in someone’s life today? How did you let someone make a difference in your life today?” When I end my days in this manner, I get the opportunity to reflect and think about how I am reacting and responding to the events in my life. Sometimes I love what I see. Other times I don’t love what I see. But either way, I have thought deeply about how my day went.
The second guiding principle is a quote from Brother David Vryhof, who is a monastic at the Society of Saint John the Evangelist: “Complaining, or murmuring, as St. Benedict calls it, can have a toxic effect on human communities. Suppose you gave up complaining. Suppose you made it your practice to express what you desire and to work constructively toward achieving it, rather than complaining about the things you don’t like. Could becoming “murmur-free” make a difference in your quality of life and in the quality of life of those around you?” Not complaining about things is challenging, but when I can adhere to the spirit of this quote, my life feels more peaceful and more loving.
Lastly, this poem by Mary Anne Perrone sums up a lot of what I am feeling these days:
Life at Midlife
I am no longer waiting for a special occasion; I burn the best candles on ordinary days.
I am no longer waiting for the house to be clean; I fill it with people who understand that even dust is Sacred.
I am no longer waiting for everyone to understand me; It’s just not their task
I am no longer waiting for the perfect children; my children have their own names that burn as brightly as any star.
I am no longer waiting for the other shoe to drop; It already did, and I survived.
I am no longer waiting for the time to be right; the time is always now.
I am no longer waiting for the mate who will complete me; I am grateful to be so warmly, tenderly held.
I am no longer waiting for a quiet moment; my heart can be stilled whenever it is called.
I am no longer waiting for the world to be at peace; I unclench my grasp and breathe peace in and out.
I am no longer waiting to do something great; being awake to carry my grain of sand is enough.
I am no longer waiting to be recognized; I know that I dance in a holy circle.
I am no longer waiting for Forgiveness.
I believe, I Believe.
In addition to living by these principles, I have begun accomplishing some tangible goals. I started reading a few chapters of the Bible each day. I am attempting to read a leisure book each month. I’m running every day, which is always something that makes my life better. And, I am fully embracing veganism for all of the reasons!
These guiding principles, living into my goals, and a job that makes me feel alive again are making these days beautiful.
They aren’t easy, but they are beautiful.