I’m fascinated by the recent proliferation of books that tell you how easy life should be. All it takes is The Secret 7 Steps to Success, or 12 Steps to Something or Other. We can cure all illness with the proper mindset, we can get rich with affirmations. Joy is our birthright and all we have to do is acknowledge that fact to achieve it.
Trouble is, the only people I’ve seen get rich through these Secrets are the ones who write the books about them. And while mind-power certainly affects our capacity for healing, as a long-time practitioner of several alternative healing modalities, I can tell you with absolute certainty, that to tell someone who’s terminally ill that his attitude is what’s killing him, is not only cruel, it’s unjust. Attitude is just one of many factors that create illness… or prolong it… but more about that later. As to joy – it may be our birthright, but unless you’re independently wealthy, have a spouse who adores you, perfect health, and children who never break a bone or your heart, it’s a fairly elusive condition, and no Secret 7 or 12 Step Quick Fix is likely to change all that.
We don’t live our lives isolated from the world around us… we are part of a larger tide of history and karma, biology and geography… all of which impact our current lives and future destinies. A baby born in Buckingham Palace and another left for dead on a dung heap in Calcutta, hardly have the same shot at a happy, healthy life and an attitude of joy.
The Cockeyed Optimist
We’re entwined with our time slot, relationships, species, family, ancestry, genetics and place on the world stage, and the dynamics of incarnation are pretty complex, so simplistic New Age-y answers are probably only one small part of a lengthy tale. I’m a big believer in the power of optimism, gratitude, positivity and grabbing joy by the tail whenever you get a chance, mind you, I just don’t think they always do the trick and when they don’t come through, it just compounds the pain to feel we were in charge of the Universe and blew it.
It seems to me, that what we do have in good times and bad, is each other. And ourselves. And God/Goddess in whatever form Creator manifests for us. And we have the opportunity for the little epiphanies and pleasures that give sweetness to the moment, and take permanent residence in our memories like indefatigable fireflies of happiness that can blink on and light the way when we least expect them to. And occasionally we have something spectacular that enters our life, like the lightning flash of love, or a baby’s birth, or winning the lottery. Even a cup of tea with a friend on a day when we truly need it, can fill the bill, the rare or the random equally capable of providing salvation.
We also have strength we don’t know we possess until crisis calls it forth… courage to face another day when the current one nearly killed us… passions that are harder to stop than Arnold Schwarzenegger… hunger that spurs our dreams, and compassion that allows us to occasionally touch the Heart of God.
So, every once in a while, wouldn’t it be fun to feel safe enough to just let go of the pressure of not knowing the perfect 7 or 12 Steps… to forgive ourselves for not having achieved the Secret Handshake for Success, or the code word for becoming a billionaire. Maybe, for a moment, it would be okay to just make a cup of tea, take a look at ourselves with a sense of congratulation for having gone the distance in a desperate world, with a modicum of grace and the good-hearted intent to leave it all a little better than we found it.
© Cathy Cash Spellman/The Wild Harp & Co. Inc 2010