January 1: Today is Not Day One
Average height. Average weight. Not pretty, not ugly. Cute sometimes, if I make the effort. Mid-thirties, approaching mid-life, with medium brown hair of medium length, I wear mostly black and nothing bright, ever. I live in a 1950s three-bedroom, two-bath rambler in the suburbs. And that’s me. I’m pretty … ordinary. My name is Katie, for goodness’ sake. So why does the month of January so reliably inspire me to undertake goals that even an extraordinary person would find challenging?
I’ll never know.
And yet, that’s what I do. I love a challenge, especially love a claw-sinking self-improvement effort. So, because of this quality and because of the date on the calendar, I have decided to do an experiment. The experiment will have two parts, with the first part being this: Someday—maybe even someday soon—I will attempt to pray without ceasing.
Allow me to explain.
In the Holy Bible—I Thessalonians, to be more precise—there is a passage written by Paul the Apostle imploring early believers to “pray without ceasing,” and since the time that it was written (and possibly before that time as well) a few people have actually taken this advice seriously. One of these people was a seventeenth-century Catholic monk named Brother Lawrence.
Brother Lawrence was an unusually spiritual person and an unusually happy one—and also a pretty ordinary one as well. He worked as a cook at the monastery where he lived, the Discalced Carmelite Prior in Paris. Sometime during his time there, he decided to teach himself how to pray continually throughout the day—and as it turned out, he was quite successful. The journal he kept about his experience later became a popular book called The Practice of the Presence of God.
The first time I read this book I was in college (Bible College, no less). Because I have since a young age had a pretty optimistic view of my own capabilities, as I read it I vowed to myself that one day, I would do what he did. I held this idea somewhere in the back of my mind ever since, only abandoning it temporarily while on a break from spirituality a few years back.
Which brings me to today. As I said before, today is January first, and since I’m looking for a good goal for the year as well as a good idea for a book, it seems like a great year to begin.
Of course, there is one little problem with this idea, namely: I don’t believe in all the Bible’s ideas anymore; I am no longer a Christian. However, I don’t think this is much of a problem. I may not believe in Christianity, but I can still follow the Bible when I like what it has to say. And I like the idea of praying without ceasing. It has a certain extremist appeal. It is enough of a challenge to make it worth writing about but more than that, the outcome could just be amazing. If I am successful, I would be nearly guaranteed to make better decisions and live a better life—after all, I’d be receiving my instructions straight from God.
And that would just be awesome.
And so, this year I’m going to do what Brother Lawrence did. I’m going to figure out how to pray without ceasing, to live in a state in which every action I take, every word I speak and every thought I think comes from the Source inside myself far beyond my conscious mind. I am going to communicate with the Divine, and not just occasionally—I’m going to do it all day long.
Sound ambitious? It does to me. But I don’t think it’s out of reach—not for me and not for anyone else, either. Because after all, all I’m really talking about here is doing something that should come very naturally to us humans. It goes under various names: “listening to your intuition,” “being your own person” and “following your heart,” to name a few. Most people use at least one of these terms to describe something similar to what I plan to do. The difference is that because I believe that we humans are all a part of God, I think listening to myself (my deep down truest self, that is) is one way to listen to God, too.
So, that is what I plan to do. Now the question becomes: Why did I wait so long to begin?
Well, there are several answers to that question. One is that until now, I never felt inspired to. And though the importance of this cannot be understated, it goes hand-in-hand with the second answer to the question, the one that will likely become more apparent as this experiment proceeds, but which simply stated is this: I just never had the guts.
And, truth be told, I still don’t. Which is why as of today, I have not yet decided when this experiment will actually begin. See, I am ready to think about following my intuition. I’m ready to observe my inner dialogue on the subject, and to ponder the matter in depth. I’m even ready, right now, to make the decision that at some point this year, I will actually carry out this plan.
But unfortunately, I’m not yet ready to begin.
And actually, I’m kind of okay with that. In my experience, when considering a major change like this trying to force things is usually not only unproductive, but actually counterproductive. Thinking about it, though—considering it, mulling it over, picturing what it would be like—can be just the ticket—just the thing that helps you to notice when the right time does at long last arrive.
And so, today is the first day of my journal on this subject, but today is not day one.
All right, then. So much for the first part of my experiment for the year. The second part of the experiment is just as difficult and just as ambitious as the first, and it is this: I am going to find a few good friends.
See, there’s something I must admit, a bit ashamedly: I have precious few friends. I mean, I see people. We have conversations. But in my life there is no one I can just call on a whim except one, and she lives pretty far away. Not so far that I never see her—but far enough that it’s a two-night, three-day adventure when I do.
And that’s unfortunate. Because as we all know, there’s a world of difference between a friend—someone you talk to when it’s convenient to do so—and a close friend, someone you seek out. A close friend is someone you can call when you’re bored or angry or lonely or upset, or for no reason at all. Someone you can go have coffee with at her house, just for half an hour between errands. Someone you can watch TV with while you’re wearing pajamas. Not someone who schedules you out several weeks in advance as an activity to work in between all their other responsibilities, but someone who is often—not always, maybe, but often—just there.
When we were in high school and college, our friends were all like that. Friendship wasn’t on the back burner, something to enjoy only if you had time; it was an accepted, necessary part of your life. If you weren’t hanging out with people and doing something fun on a Friday or Saturday night, you felt bad about it. You felt like a loser. Your friends—assuming you had some—automatically assumed those would be the evenings and nights you’d spend together.
And the rest of the week they were there, too. You ate your meals with them in the cafeteria. You saw them in class, or between classes at the library where you all went to study together. You did something we as adults have all but given up on except with our immediate family: you hung out.
Now things are different. In my case—as in the case of many other people—my immediate family just isn’t big enough to make for a 100 percent satisfying “hanging out” kind of experience—right now, it’s just me, the baby, and my husband, and as much as I love these two other beautiful people, they will never be able to fulfill my need for companionship entirely.
And just in case you’re wondering, yes, I do know this from years of experience trying. At first it was just my husband Jack and I, and for quite a while, that actually was almost enough. I had my writing and my hobbies and my husband and even though I wanted more friends, I allowed myself to put off looking for them to pursue other things instead.
But then the baby was born. And no longer did I have all the time I wanted for doing my own stuff—building my business, reading endless books, writing whenever I felt inspired and for hours and hours on end. No—for the first time in a long time, I had a schedule—a strict one, and one that wasn’t set by me. I had to wake up at a certain time every day, no matter how tired I was, and change diapers and wash faces and put my own projects on hold until naptime. I was working harder than I’d ever worked in my life, and at the same time the days were longer than they’d ever been, and so much harder to fill.
See, before the baby, I could do anything I wanted with my time, whereas with him I had to do only certain things that he could do, too. The list was short, and included the following: shopping (for me, just grocery shopping since I avoid most other kinds), car rides (yes, just car rides), walks (in those first months of the baby’s life I would often walk for two or three hours at a time), and, finally, social stuff. And as much as I loved walking and car rides, it was the social time I needed the most.
And I still do. Though the baby is older now, I still can’t get much reading or writing done with him around, and playing at home gets pretty old after a while. And so, our time together is much better spent out and about, doing something we both enjoy.
And at the top of that list, of course, is seeing friends.
And so, my plan this year is to do everything in my power to locate and develop friendships with as many women as possible. I will name and list them in this journal along with all my efforts to attract them and keep them around. For anonymity’s sake, I’ll refer to the people on this list by numbers, not by their names (besides, it’s sillier that way, and I think if there’s ever a time to be silly, it’s when you’re shopping for new friends). I really don’t know if I will be successful but I do know this: if I’m not, it won’t be for lack of trying.
And so, I’ve decided: this is the year I am going to get friends. It is also the year I’m going to learn to pray without ceasing.
And even though the terminology I normally use these days is different, I still do like the phrase “pray without ceasing.” Not too corny, not too New-Agey sounding. A little old-fashioned. A little poetic. A little reminiscent, too, of what I used to be.
It also, I think, makes the point. Because though the word “prayer” can mean many things, it’s the “without ceasing” part that matters—at least to me right now. After all, I can pray the regular way anytime. I can learn to meditate. I can teach myself how to make all my most important decisions with the help of God, and actually I’ve been doing most of these things for years. What I haven’t been able to do is to walk in that inspired place all day long. I haven’t been able or willing to give control of my whole life to God, even my very thoughts.
Are you beginning to see why the prospect of doing this is so frightening?
And yet, I’m ready. I’m ready to live in continuous awareness, even during the smallest and (arguably) least important moments of life.
I’m ready to pray without ceasing—just as soon as the time seems right.
January 7: My Mind Hurts
The other day, I said something that was kinda stupid. It was to a friend of mine—a new friend, one that is still in that tender “will-I-stay-or-will-I-go” phase (I’ll call her Friend Number One). It wasn’t an insult, exactly—it was just something that upon reflection seemed a bit insensitive.
I told her she needed to calm down.
She was graceful about it, of course. And she did in fact calm down a little, even. But really, does anyone ever like being told to calm down, to have a very understandable human emotion pointed out to them in such an embarrassing, blunt manner?
I doubt it.
Anyway, the point is after that, nothing happened. There was no fallout. There was no argument. Everything was normal and fine. And yet, ever since then (and this was over a week ago, mind you) I have been unable to forgive myself for what I said. I have been replaying the conversation over and over in my mind, as if doing so could change anything—and as if it mattered that much at all.
In short: I am acting crazy.
And this isn’t the only time this has happened. I’d even say if I really thought about it there haven’t been all that many stretches of time in my life when I haven’t tortured myself similarly on an almost daily basis. As Eckhart Tolle would say: This is normal. It is also insane.
And so, truth be told, the real reason for this experiment is not that it’s something I’ve always wanted to do or that I just think it’d be cool. The real reason I’m doing it is that my mind hurts.
It hurts really, really bad.
Yesterday I started re-reading a book by one of my favorite authors. It was A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut, and in the prologue (an awesome piece of writing in its own right) Vonnegut quotes his uncle Alex who, in certain happy moments during his life, as while eating a sandwich by a lake or some such thing, was fond of saying the following: “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice I don’t know what is,’” Vonnegut writes.
And if that isn’t a deep thought—I don’t know what is.
So far in my life, I have found a lot of happiness. I have worked through some tough things—a good deal of my depression and painful shyness, to name two—and figured out some good things—how to be in a healthy romantic relationship, to name one. These things took a lot of work and because of that work I now feel better than I ever have before. But what Vonnegut is talking about in this passage is not merely feeling good.
He’s talking, I think, about contentment.
Contentment is more than having a good life and appreciating what you have. There’s something else to it as well, something that’s a little harder to put your finger on. Contentment, as I see it, is peace. It’s an inner calm that tells you that everything really is okay.
And that’s what this experiment is about. It’s about being so in touch with God that worry and other bad feelings—the so-called “mind clutter” that steals away many otherwise happy moments—goes away. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for. At least for some of the time. I know this because a few times in my life, I’ve glimpsed it. Then I’ve let it slip away.
I’m definitely in that slip-away territory now. Lately, my level of spiritual inspiration—that high you get on a long walk at night, for example—have been pretty lacking. My thoughts, as I said, have been unpleasant to live with, even more so for the fact that they make no sense.
I have all the money I need, yet I’m worrying constantly about bills. I have all the time I need, yet I’m daily afraid of not getting enough done.
I worry about my husband. I worry about our baby. I worry about my weight and my hair and my friendships and the stupid comment I made the other day that has probably already been forgotten.
I wake up worrying, and I’m worried about my worrying, and I’m worried about whether giving it up will actually do more harm than good. Won’t it take away my sense of purpose in life? How will I get anything done?
And yet, as with all of our addictions, we know we actually would be better off without them. We can’t quite imagine a life without drugs or alcohol or overeating or worry, but somehow we still believe it is possible. And so, we make our decision. We decide to rid ourselves of our bad habits, to swear off them entirely this time, come what may.
After that we fail. Then we fail again.
We do this several more times, then several more, until we either die or are successful. If we die, we go to Heaven or somewhere like that and realize it didn’t really matter anyway. If we are successful we write a book about it.
This is not one of those books. This is a journal, not a success story. Truth is, I’m not a success. I’m struggling. I’ll probably continue to struggle even if I find some degree of peace and divine connectedness this year. Of course, I hope that I’m wrong and that this experiment will wipe away all my mind clutter and I will be the next ordinary person to transcend it all, like Eckhart Tolle. But as this is unlikely, I set my sights squarely on the goal of making a dent in those negative thoughts, and to at times experience the feeling of deep-seated contentment I described. Anyway, no harm will come from my trying, right? Even if I am just an ordinary person.
If there’s one thing I believe in without reservation, it’s trying.
February 6: Such is Life
Today is the thirty-seventh day of the year, and I still haven’t decided when to begin my New Years’ resolution. I feel the same way about this goal that I did back on January first, namely: I’m still afraid to commit.
Now, you should know that normally I’m not averse to commitment—not even close. I jump into long-term relationships and major life decisions—even parenthood—with relative ease, trusting my instincts to steer me right. But what I’m talking about here isn’t a commitment to a relationship, or to a job. It’s a commitment to allowing someone or something else to, if they see fit, take over my entire life. It is a commitment to giving up control, and not only that, but to put forth what right now seems like a great deal of effort to do so. It’s a commitment to changing my entire life, my entire way of thinking.
Nothing could be more total than that.
But losing control of my decisions isn’t the only thing I’m afraid of. I’m afraid of changing my personality too much. I’m afraid, a little, of coming across to others as overly spiritual—a fanatic or a freak. And lastly, I’m afraid of failure.
Yup, that’s right—I’m afraid it will work, and I’m afraid it won’t—both at the very same time.
Such is life. And such is the way we keep ourselves from growth.
Now, as to the latter fear—the fear of failure—most of me highly doubts it will come to pass. Sure, I won’t always perceive the direction I seek moment-by-moment, but I believe that I am actually able to hear God when I listen. Sometimes the voice guides me on small matters—things like what to say to someone at a sensitive moment or when is the best time to schedule coffee with a friend. But the voice has guided me on big things as well—things like where to apply for a job, and whether or not the person I was dating was right for me. Over the past twenty years, that still small voice has helped me give up at least two relationships that were moving in the direction of long-term commitment, and whether you call it intuition, instinct, the subconscious mind or God, what it came down to was much the same thing: I did not get married.
And as to the becoming-a-freak concern: that one’s pretty minor, too, something I can talk myself out of pretty easily. The giving up control thing, though—that one is for real. That is the big one. That, and just making all this damn effort.
And because of this, I delay a bit longer and wait to see whether or not the fear will fade with time.
In spite of my regrettable lack of enthusiasm for the first part of my experiment, the second part is progressing rather well. To initiate the process of finding a few close friends, I emailed a bunch of people inviting them to a party this coming Saturday night—sort of a meet-the-baby thing for my two-month-old. There will be food. There will be drinks. There will be a new baby to hold and cuddle. But will it be more fun, or more awkward?
We will find out.
That milestone accomplished, I did for this area of my life what I have in the past done for so many others: In true geek fashion (the geeky geek fashion, though, not the hipster geek fashion, unfortunately) I made a plan. That’s right: I have created a detailed action plan that, if carried out faithfully, will (I believe) help me find at least several good friends by the end of the year, and a good-sized network of acquaintances as well. Here it is, in classic list format:
- I will host get-togethers at our home at least one Saturday night per month, continually adding to the guest list as I meet new people. If some of the gatherings don’t go well, I will keep at it, understanding people sometimes need quite a bit of time together before they feel fully comfortable in a party environment.
- I will join at least one moms’ group and attend it weekly at least. Moms’ groups are awesome because doing things with kids is always a great excuse to get together, even if the activity wouldn’t normally be very interesting for adults alone. Also, there’s always lots to talk about.
- I will invite someone on a coffee date at least once per month.
- I will attend other group activities for people with interests similar to mine at least once per month.
Is that enough? I think so … for now. We will see how it works and then revise if necessary. Also, like I said before, in order to track my progress I will keep a numbered list of my friends that I will add to and subtract from as needed.
I know, it’s geeky. But I have to do something. Making a plan is better than not making a plan, I think.
February 13: I Cheated
All right, that’s it. That is it. I am ready. I’m ready to set a date to start my experiment. How do I know that I’m ready? I know because I’m excited. Finally—finally!—the thought of taking on this challenge is making me sincerely happy. Why the change in perspective? Because last weekend, I did something I would recommend to anyone in my (exact) situation: I cheated. I peeked in the answer key in the back of the book before even reading the chapter. Here’s what happened.
Last weekend was Valentine’s Day weekend, and to celebrate my husband Jack and our baby and I took a trip to visit some family. The Friday we left, I noticed the calla lilies in our yard had just bloomed. My immediate thought was, I should pick some flowers and put them in a vase. And it wasn’t just a normal thought; it was That Kind of Thought. It was that urge that seemed to originate somewhere outside of myself—or maybe just deeper within. And so, even though I didn’t see the point of doing so since I was leaving in just a few hours, remembering my experiment, I decided to listen. I picked a few of the flowers, then a few of another type as well, then got a vase of water and placed them on our dining room table. They were pretty, and I enjoyed looking at them while we got ready to go.
Sunday night, Jack and I returned from the trip. Because it was Valentine’s Day, I’d been given a rose. It was fairly late when I came into the house, and I was quite tired, so when I saw the vase of flowers on the table I was glad I could add the rose to the vase without any further preparations on my part. The lilies still looked great, too, and for the rest of the week I had a whole bouquet of fresh-cut flowers on my table.
Okay, so maybe it’s a bit silly. But maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s a sign. A sign that I can do this: I can give up control. I can choose to listen to my intuition, even when my mind tells me not to. I can hear God—even in the minor details of life. And knowing this is making me really excited to begin my experiment for real.
And so. Today I am looking at the calendar, and thinking about my schedule, and here is what it says: today, nothing. Tomorrow, nothing. Friday, nothing. Saturday, having a party at our house. Sunday, going on a date with my husband. All next week, nothing.
All right, then. I have no excuse.
So why don’t I pray about this for a minute as I write. Dear God: Should I start my experiment today? No. I want to start in a morning. Should I start early next week? No—too far away. I want to take advantage of the excitement I’m feeling right now. Should I start tomorrow? No. Not enough time to mentally prepare. Should I start on Friday? No. Who starts anything on a Friday? So: Saturday? Maybe. A relatively quiet day, but not too quiet—at the party I can practice my new listening skills too, praying about what to say and do to help everyone have a good time.
Saturday, then. Saturday the ninth.
And now the friends report: This evening I went to a moms’ group activity—my first one ever. The group (which I found on a website) is made up of mothers who are also writers. Since I was feeling tired today, I almost skipped it, but at the last minute I went, not wanting to seem flaky from the start. The result? Well, a little so-so.
The group met at Starbucks, which I thought would be nice since it’d be just coffee and conversation and no kids running around distracting us. While I enjoyed the conversation, there were two problems with the evening. One is that my sleep-deprived brain was overly emotional and sensitive and I found myself complaining about something stupid to a woman I’d never met until today. This was mildly embarrassing, but not such a big deal.
The second problem with the evening was much worse: for most of the two hours I was there, I felt completely ignored. The woman sitting next to me had her back to me nearly the whole time and the woman sitting across from me seemed interested in talking only to the woman sitting next to her. One of the women—the one I complained to unnecessarily—did smile at me in sympathy several times and ask me a few questions, but she was too far away to really talk to for long. I was surprised at how terrible this first effort made me feel. It was a moment of vulnerability, and I got hurt. It seems unlikely that any of these moms harbored any ill will, or disliked me in any way. And yet, the experience felt personal. It felt like something was wrong with me. I was the new person. I didn’t fit in. It told me the same story I’ve been telling about myself for many, many years.
Despite these mixed results, I’ve decided keep attending this group. One bad experience does not a pattern make.
Next time, I’ll just get a better seat.
March 9: The Real Day One
Well, this was it, folks. Today was day one—the real day one. All morning and afternoon, I had no plans at all, and much to my surprise, it was wonderful. Interestingly, it did not start out wonderful. When I woke up this morning, it felt just like any other day. I even felt cranky. Then I remembered the experiment and my plan—and soon after that, everything started to change. I began listening to my inner guide, and I actually heard what it was saying. In other words: it worked. It really, really worked.
It felt good.
Here are some of the things I did today that felt, to me, inspired:
- I didn’t take a walk with the baby as I usually do. Instead, I felt it would be better to stay home all day, play with the baby and relax until our visitors came over tonight.
- I took a bath when I felt to do so, even though I wanted to wait. Turned out to be great timing as a little while after that Jack came home early and was ready to play with the baby while I got other things done.
- I washed the dishes when I felt inspired to.
- I put the baby down for a nap when I felt inspired to.
- I decided not to organize my office as I had earlier planned to do.
- I took a walk by myself around midnight, even though I was exhausted—and I enjoyed it very much.
These are just small things, of course—no life-changing decisions here. Taken together, though, they really mean something. They mean that I can do what I’ve decided to do this year. I can actually learn to pray without ceasing.
What’s more: it may be easier than I thought it would be—possibly a lot easier. At some point early on in the day I got into a rhythm that I didn’t break until later in the evening after the visitors came and I became somewhat distracted. Most of the day, there was a natural flow to it. It felt nice. It felt easy. And here’s another cool thing: Not only did I enjoy my time in prayer today—I learned some stuff, too. In addition to sensing when and how to make my small decisions, I sensed two bigger, more important messages. The first was that I don’t need to be so excited all the time. The second was that it doesn’t matter who my husband is.
Allow me to explain.
The first of these realizations came over me sometime in the afternoon, a little while after the aforementioned rhythm had been established. As I was nursing the baby to sleep, I suddenly became aware of the fact that if this were any other kind of experiment and it was going as well as this one, I wouldn’t feel the way I was feeling right then. I wouldn’t have the same calm, the same almost placid acceptance; instead, I’d feel excited. My mind would be brimming with plans and possibilities, reminding me repeatedly of how well things are sure to work out for me if only I were able to be consistent with my plan. Then it would proceed to elaborate upon that plan in great detail. Later, when I had the chance, I’d discuss my newfound source of hoped-for fulfillment with a friend or two, outlining all of the benefits and, if they were interested, helping them discover it for themselves. That is what it was like whenever I started a new diet, or revamped my wardrobe, or reorganized my home, or got a new job. This, I was convinced, this would help me be happy.
And I should add here that I don’t deny that those things did (and to some degree still do) help me be happier. But yesterday as I paid close attention to my thoughts, what I understood was that this get-super-excited pattern is often the hallmark of false promise. The excitement wasn’t helpful. It wasn’t my spirit’s true voice, but the voice of my earthbound mind, jumping up and down and making noise. Excitement can be good, and it can even be spiritual. But most of mine hasn’t been. It’s been false hope, hope for an external solution, and a never-ending search for the next best thing. It’s not a bad feeling, exactly—I love my plans. I love my self-improvement efforts. They’re fun. They give me something to do and to discuss. But the mania of it all … it just goes a bit too far sometimes. It’s immature. And it’s unnecessary.
My true inner self doesn’t do a lot of handsprings. It is quiet. It is listening. It is humble. It takes one thing at a time. It’s not all about making lists and checking things off. And yet, it’s wiser, more efficient and more skilled than my mind will ever be. What I’m feeling right now, as I write this journal entry, is not excitement. It is peace. It’s a glimpse of what I’ve been looking for. Why did it take me so long to give up control? This doesn’t feel like being out of control. It feels like the opposite. It feels like my mind is finally my own—a part of me, but not the most important part. It feels like no matter what happens today, I won’t be disturbed.
Of course, I doubt it’s true that nothing could disturb me. But the little annoyances that came up today didn’t, and that’s something. Which brings me back to the second realization I had today, the realization that it doesn’t matter who my husband is.
This was a weird one. Which is why I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t my own mind that quite suddenly made me aware of this thought as I was wiping down the kitchen counter. Jack had left the room a few moments ago after saying, “Oh, Hon, not like that,” in exactly the tone that usually gets me quickly defensive. I looked up at him—looked in his eyes—with no real expression on my face. Then I went back to work, slowly changing to his preferred technique. He walked away, and I was left to ponder this encounter. It likely meant nothing to him, but to me it was interesting. Why didn’t I react internally in the way I usually do? Why did I have zero desire to defend myself? The answer was simple: it was because I was at peace. It was because my stuff was my stuff, and his was his. His annoyance was his experience of life in that moment. My experience was loving him and knowing that his comment wasn’t personal. In spite of the implications of his tone and mannerisms, I realized that he didn’t think I was being lazy or dumb. He just really wanted the counter to be cleaner than I wanted it to be. How silly, I thought, to make it into anything else.
And that’s when it happened. That’s when the thought came to me: It doesn’t matter who your husband is. And immediately, I understood what it meant. It meant that if I am able to continue on in the mindset I’m in today, it really wouldn’t matter what my husband ever did or said. I couldn’t ever get angry or annoyed or take something personally; it just would not be possible. The only thing that would matter is the way that I’d respond. And the more times I responded calmly, asking Jack to “please use a different tone of voice” or making a joke about the difficult day he must’ve had, the less condescending he would likely act on a regular basis. This wouldn’t work for every husband, maybe, but for most, I think it would.
I could to married to almost anyone, and be happy.
Crazy thought, right? Crazy thought: Should this experiment be successful, I could one day have total immunity to annoyance. But then, it’s not really so crazy. After all, isn’t that why I’m doing this? I’m doing this to become a more spiritually connected person. And if I become a bit more connected every day, true divine connection feels inevitable.
By the way, the fear I mentioned before about acting overly spiritual around other people? Not actually a problem so far. Maybe that only happens when you start to get a big head about it. Or maybe I’ve just been misinterpreting the seemingly condescending but possibly actually sincerely helpful spiritual guru-types I’ve met.
In any case. I hope I’m in no danger of being mistaken for the same, and I’ll continue to try to prevent it.
March 10: Moody, Sick and Tired
Day two: moody. Sick, too. And pretty tired. Moody, sick and tired, and doubting today will go as well as yesterday.
Well, I went for a walk today and despite continuing to feel crappy, I managed to have a pretty good day. I wasn’t able to keep up the same level of spiritual awareness that I did yesterday, but there was one notable experience. Inspired by a tip from that inner guide I’ve been writing about so much, I decided to go to the library, then once there to take the time to ask a librarian a question I’ve had for a while. As we chatted, another librarian came by and noticed a book I was checking out, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. She said she liked it and we got into a discussion on spirituality. It was a nice chat and before I left she gave me a book recommendation as well as a church recommendation. It was the first time I had heard of a church where people actually believe the same stuff I do.
The timing of this conversation feels totally non-coincidental to me. I am very much looking forward to meeting some like-minded people—and I’m happy today was somewhat successful after all.
Over on the friends news, things are moving along. As the writers’ group hasn’t been offering enough activity choices, I joined a second group as well, this one for working moms. Last week I went to three meetings and play dates: one at somebody’s home (no one really talked; everybody was focused on their kids and I left early), another coffee outing (good conversation, no special connections) and a movie. At the movie I met a mom who lives near my house—Friend Number Two, I’ll call her here—and she invited me to another group event. Then she actually followed through with an email and today, the baby and I met her and several others at an indoor playground at the mall.
Here’s the short version of the evening: Friend Two, a very friendly lady, gave me a long lecture on the importance of sleep and feeding schedules (parenting practices I purposely avoid). Most of the other moms spent most of the time telling their kids what not to do and then watching to make sure they didn’t do it, which didn’t leave a lot of time for conversation. Friend Number Three, though, was different.
Friend Number Three is plump, plain-looking and ponytailed—the low-maintenance type of person I’m usually drawn to. We talked about our jobs and our husbands and even our spiritual beliefs, and before I left I told her I’d email her soon.
I haven’t crossed Two off my list yet, but it’s this Three I’m really hopeful about.
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