On Tuesday I told Alana I felt a heavy blog coming on. We discussed the first noble truth: life is suffering. Some days it's hard to move on from there. Alana has a lot of reasons to dwell on the first noble truth. She has two people very important to her who are losing their battles with cancer. I have no specific reason to be depressed. Maybe it's because the days are getting shorter and I am Vitamin D deficient. I just have the uncanny ability to tap into the collective sadness of the universe at times. I understand in theory the purpose of life. But some days there is a big disconnect between the intellectual and the emotional.
My nine year old son is a worrier. He lies in bed at night worrying about things like getting lost in Seattle and being stung by a scorpion in Arizona (both were potential family vacation sites). I felt a strange inability to reassure him. I am usually able to focus on the good and see the beauty in life, but not at the moment. Having dabbled in several religions, I have created an explanatory model for the way things are and it works for me most of the time. The thing that saves me along with other believers is the unwaivering faith in a Benevolent Creator greater than myself, that things happen for a reason, and that love and kindness will ultimately triumph over fear and hatred. I try to be in the moment but sometimes the moment sucks.
I went to the stationery store to get a new organizer. I go through phases of trying to be more organized. But this time I felt so defeated as I browsed through the racks of Daytimers, appointment calendars and Uncalendars. In the past I fooled myself into thinking that if I had just the right tool, I would be more organized, stay on top of things, not forget stuff, pay my bills on time, etc. This time I knew that no tool was going to change me into a better person. That what I really wanted at the moment, I could not get from an organizer: happiness. I even found an appointment book full of beautiful pictures and quotes from famous people on the art of Simplicity, something I constantly crave and strive towards but fail miserably at. There was a quote from the Dalai Lama: "The purpose of life is to be useful and to be happy." I have no trouble with the first part, it's the second part that often eludes me.
As I went through the rest of the week, looking for the magic and beauty in ordinary things, I was fortunate enough to find them. My six year old comes home and tells me: "Mom, we're studying astronomy in school right now. So if there's anything you want to know about the universe, just ask me." So I asked him why Pluto was no longer considered a planet and he told me that it's because it is too small. I'm still mad about that. How can they decide after all these years that Pluto doesn't get to be a planet anymore just because it's too small?
Last night on our way to the theater to see the Maori dancers and singers from New Zealand, Riley says: "I see the first star!". I say "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight..." And Chris says emphatically, "The first star we see every night is not a star! It's Venus!" I think I knew that at some time in my life, but I had forgotten. I am humbled by the wisdom of a six year old. And that makes me happy.
So when Riley began to worry about acid rain and the state of the environment, I was able to say: Yes there are lots of things wrong with the world. We can choose to worry about them, or we can choose to learn what each one of us can do to make things a little bit better.