Sunday, August 9, 2009
A happy life (whatever that means), according to the cosmology of Reya, has little to do with accomplishments, how much money you have, where you live, the status of your love life, how much you weigh or with your talent, wit or beauty.
We homo sapiens love our narratives. We are a storytelling species through and through. A happy life depends entirely on what kinds of stories we tell ourselves. I've known people who have had serious bouts of cancer who are just as happy as the perfectly healthy, plain looking folks who are as happy as the gorgeous, unachievers who are as happy as Barack Obama (who I think of as a happy super-achiever.) Clearly the key to happiness has nothing to do with externals.
It's all about the story, how we frame our perceptions and experiences, rather than the experiences in and of themselves. And now please don't tell me that you have the ability to be objective. I don't believe it. We're every one of us spin doctors, working ceaselessly to make sense of the sounds, sights, smells and sensations that we take in every day. We are interpreters of experience; we try as hard as we can to find meaning in the unfoldings of our lives. Every one of us is a storyteller. No exceptions!
Please understand: I'm not suggesting that in order to live a happy life every story we tell ourselves needs to have a positive spin to it - that's denial, delusion and illusion. Life is full of every kind of experience from the sublime to the ridiculous, oh yeah. A happy life comes from believing that even during dark nights of the soul, you're going to be OK, from believing you'll come out of whatever it is you're going through, and that you're a good person, worthwhile. Easier said than done for some folks. Easier said that done even for the most confident of people sometimes.
One thing I love about meditation is that it's my opportunity to take a vacation away from the incessant story-telling machinery of my mind. It's a nice break from the plot line. During meditation I can see right through my stories. It's quite a revelation every day.
Of course as soon as I finish my sit, I dive right back into my story, with enthusiasm and intensity. I am a human, after all. Though my tendency is to create a very dramatic version of my journey through this lifetime, one thing I'm remembering as I move through this time of grieving is that somewhere along the way I built a strong foundation of confidence in myself. Don't ask me how I did it, I can't explain it. It's true, though, that even when I'm flopping around, I believe in my heart of hearts that somehow I will prevail. That foundational confidence is worth a pile of gold, a perfect figure, a genius-level I.Q., a fabulous love life and flawless health (none of which I have).
But it's all OK anyway. Life is good and I am grateful. Seriously!