In case you ever wonder why a normally intelligent, very busy woman would take time to write, over and over from any conceivable angle, about the same subject...
It's because, my loves, I am convinced of the existence of actual happiness. Not through logic or deduction or wishful thinking, but through experience.
Here is just a smattering of statements I've recently heard:
I don't like myself.
I have completely f***ed up my life.
I should be thankful.
I should have made other choices.
I can't think of anything to be happy about.
Life is so hard.
I have nothing to show for anything.
I just need to get my head right.
I am tired/broke/depressed/hurting/confused/lost/pissed off/done.
I don't care anymore.
Nothing is wrong with this kind of thinking. I've harbored all of it. I've learned to pay attention to the actual life span of these thoughts, and their power or substance, which amounts to exactly nothing. I no longer believe them. I am so uninteresting to them, these days, that they hardly ever even bother to appear.
Despair and suffering are interesting, but there comes a point when natural "evolution" or maturity demands an expanded, more effective mode of being.
Maybe we all have to go through this to learn exactly what doesn't work. It seems stunningly obvious that wallowing in conflict and unhappiness does not allow happiness. Living "problematically"--that is, adopting "problems" at every opportunity--guarantees Really Important Issues to tackle. Some seem to thrive on that.
Please understand that I am not unsympathetic to personal issues, world issues, universal issues. But if we must have them, let's keep them extremely basic. We are biological beings, so we need to eat, stay warm and have some contact with our own kind. That's pretty much the extent of our "problem". I'm speaking on a personal level, here, where all issues, like war and disease and excessive violence, originate.
If you, beautiful one, are angry and depressed, there is nothing out in the imaginary world causing your fuming and despair. The conflict originates in you...an imaginary you against an imaginary you, either acknowledged or swept under the mental rug.
Allow me to introduce a different, maybe even "evolved" you.
Sit still for a moment, and look around. Notice everything you see, hear, feel, taste, smell. Notice your thoughts and all their judgments about these things. Notice how they whisper that there is a better way, life, body, bank account, spouse, drug, place, situation, time, etc., etc., etc.
Notice the shame you feel, the unworthiness, the frustration, because you have not yet gained this Betterness, or even ascertained exactly what it is. You just know, somehow, that this isn't it.
Alright...this is your brain at work, doing what it is essentially set up to do, but taken by you and all your training to a new level of chaos. We can enhance this craziness all the way into mental breakdowns, blind violence and even suicide. But such activity ignores the other You, and that would be a real tragedy.
The searching that your mind is doing is meant to find you food and water, shelter and a bit of company. Do you have these things? Do you have access to these things? Give thanks to your mind for helping to find and enjoy the basics. After that, the searching and longing is purely for creation, for the bringing meaning and beauty into being. That's it. So if you are frustrated, you are not taking the time to explore what is meaningful or beautiful for you.
Next step is to employ the full extent of consciousness, right here and now.
So understand that all your senses at work, all your thinking and emotion, and everything you are sensing "out there"--light, sound, temperature, muscle tension, anything you can experience, in fact--is one big Nature. (Nature is a good name to use, as we already understand it as a kind of force not under our control.) Even the movement in and out of sensual range of "others" is all one big Nature. Not part of it, mind you. This Nature is not separate from you. You don't exist "within" it or "outside" of it...these are just ways of speaking. Nature is so large that it has no edges, and so involved with anything you can think of that it has no barriers.
The mind, Nature working, cannot understand the size and scope of Nature in words or numbers. It can't explain exactly how this Nature works, since its own process is...well, Nature working!
Any conclusions by Nature about Itself would be akin to the ocean using itself to cut itself into separate drops of saltwater.
How does this apply to "problems"? Well, any issue, as well as any explanation, is Nature, also, doing what it does. Follow me, so far?
Since we are so used to thinking of ourselves as alone, cut off and apart from what seems to be a hostile world, I would like you to consider the idea--just as valid--that you, sitting here with your sensations, thoughts and feelings, are the sum total of reality. That there is nothing other than what you are experiencing in this moment. That there is no Better. That this is it, all, everything. There is no hostile world out there. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, that is the world. There is no separate you...the stuff you can see, like the end of your nose, your body, how and what it feels, combined with anything else in your sphere of existence--that IS you, all of it. Go ahead...try to separate your senses from the world. Notice that your senses ARE the world. When you move and think, you carry reality with you, and it unfolds through your moving and thinking and feeling, on the spot.
Everything you know, and all that is familiar to you, mapped out and lodged in your memory, is (to use a metaphor) your Dream. In the dream, you think and believe that you are a single body in a big world full of stuff, and you "prove" this to yourself by apparently moving around in this seemingly still space on an apparently solid surface. In a memory you call "yesterday", you went to school or work in a building which is still there "now". You remember this again and again. The building stays the same. Are you sure? How do you know? How do you know that you don't unfold and create all of reality, complete with a "memory" function, just for you, so quickly that time is too slow to catch it?
Asking is good, questioning reality is good, because it keeps definitions flexible. To this huge Nature, such questions are pointless, as Nature is perfectly lucid and aware as Itself, like the ocean is perfectly oceany without having to dissect itself into single drops labeled "saltwater". Nature doesn't "care" in the emotional sense about maps and conclusions, or how many problems you decide you want to create. It simply cooperates with your maps and conclusions, since It is you and you are It. What else would happen?
The ocean doesn't "ask" for waves, starfish, dead seals, great white sharks or islands. In the same way, we don't ask for cancer, war, dysfunctional relationships, genius, or enlightenment. But all these things are what we are, what It is. The value of any aspect of Nature is never set in stone, but is decided by you. In other words, your own value is granted by you. Not by society, not by accident, not by anything but the width and depth of yourself.
In this dream, from the "perspective" called human or "yours", there is a giant ability to create whole worlds just by changing focus. Widen the aperture all the way, and we have Nature--infinite, unbounded, pure potential. Narrow it, and we have "levels"--universe, galaxy, solar system, world, society, human, cellular, quantum...and the focus can be narrowed even more, paths marked, maps made, theories born. Nature, flexing. Nature naturing. Nature, changing focus, creating problems and solving them.
Simply considering any of this as possibility takes the pressure off. Are there really set ways to live? Does a person really have to stay inside the lines, work nine-to-five, achieve, attain, conform, in order to be happy? Could it be that happiness exists and is recognized because it is already what we are? Could it be that we simply need to stop endlessly expanding our inner conflicts in order to recognize that we (Nature) are happy, by nature? What if we are just as blissful as we are sad, just as healthy as we are sick?
If the natural setting of Nature was fear, would all this variety, this endless questing into parts of Itself unknown, even happen? What if the real definition of fear is suppressed happiness?
Happiness pregnant, happiness forming, happiness waiting to explode? If it did explode, what would happen? Would the stars go out, would your father have a heart attack? Would you die? Really?
Is it possible to experience happiness--also known as love--in the face of the economy imploding, your lover smoking too much pot, your girlfriend cheating, your bones deteriorating, your pet rat, pet project or pet-whatever dying, the earth shifting, the cold coming, the pantry emptying and all that?
Can you love your own weakness, your tendency toward addiction, your reluctance, your ignorance, your denial, your paranoia, your sheeplike tendency to do whatever is easy and jump when you're barked at, your excessive aggression, the fact that you still somehow believe in love even though you said you wouldn't...
Yes. Secretly, you do. You may not want to admit it, but you are incredibly strong in your tenderness, in your empathy, and your capacity for beauty. You know what's real, what's Natural.