1 December 2013
Day 1 of #GraceAndGratitude. I’m so excited! I’m so glad that we’re doing this together (and with Rachel as well!), I’m so glad that you got a scholarship, and I just think this is going to be an amazing journey. I don’t know how you’re planning to do it, because of the time difference. I wanted to do it in the morning, but they’re going to be sent out at 9am, which is my afternoon (and your evening, right?). So now the way I think I’m going to do it is reading through it all in the afternoon/evening, and then taking the next morning to write out anything else I haven’t finished reflecting on. Hmm… as I’m writing this, I’m thinking: maybe I’ll just do it all in the evening, and use some morning time for a more structured meditation. Yes, yes, that sounds good. It’s still true: I write letters to find out what I believe. So, thanks for that.
I’ve felt guilty that ModPo got too much for me, because I wanted to have another parallel life with you, and I felt like I dropped out too early. But the poems are still there, I know. There is still always next year. And now, even better, we have another chance — right here, right now.
I’m also following an electronic advent calendar for the month of December: Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar. Do you have advent calendars? It’s big here. I grew up with chocolate ones in the UK, as well as an advent candle. Last year, my brother sent me a playmobile advent calendar of a Santa Clause scene. We’re going to have to get it back out again now.
Thanksgiving was an amazing revelation this week: I was surrounded by wonderful people, with amazing food and laughs and conversation. Outside of the actual dinner, I was blessed with help for preparation, good wishes, calls from family, and deep discussions with close friends. This whole week, I have felt so intrinsically connected to my life, to the people in my life. So thankful for the gift of all of it.
One of my favorite sections from the course so far:
You are already enough. You are worthy and capable of love. You are a brilliant creation. Inside of you, already, right now—is a well of light and joy. I imagine your soul, your essence, as a beaming white orb of light, a brilliant light and life that’s deliciously and uniquely you. Over time, however, we build up layers of crud and plaque—hardness and habits from dealing with the world—and we lose touch with this light center.
… Yet inside of and among it all, there’s still a quiet whisper. If you’ll hear it. If you’ll allow it. And it says something like this:
Life is a gift; an act of grace in itself. Your life is a gift.
– Sarah Kathleen Peck
But I have a brief correction. It feels a bit like splitting hairs, but even transcendent Buddhists acknowledge that the world is made up of joy and suffering. In fact, it is the existence of suffering that generates an awareness of the actual state of reality. Just saying. All religions are aware of suffering, and suffering occurs to all of us, but we all have the choice as to whether or not to participate.
I am so excited for the next two weeks.
Excerpts from “How to be Perfect”
Get some sleep.
Eat an orange every morning.
Be friendly. It will help make you happy.
Hope for everything. Expect nothing.
Take care of things close to home first. Straighten up your room
before you save the world. Then save the world.
Be nice to people before they have a chance to behave badly.
Don’t stay angry about anything for more than a week, but don’t
forget what made you angry. Hold your anger out at arm’s length
and look at it, as if it were a glass ball. Then add it to your glass
Wear comfortable shoes.
Do not spend too much time with large groups of people.
Plan your day so you never have to rush.
Show your appreciation to people who do things for you, even if
you have paid them, even if they do favors you don’t want.
After dinner, wash the dishes.
Don’t expect your children to love you, so they can, if they want
Don’t be too self-critical or too self-congratulatory.
Don’t think that progress exists. It doesn’t.
Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don’t do
anything to make it impossible.
Forgive your country every once in a while. If that is not
possible, go to another one.
If you feel tired, rest.
Don’t be depressed about growing older. It will make you feel
even older. Which is depressing.
Do one thing at a time.
If you burn your finger, put ice on it immediately. If you bang
your finger with a hammer, hold your hand in the air for 20
minutes. you will be surprised by the curative powers of ice and
Do not inhale smoke.
Take a deep breath.
Do not smart off to a policeman.
Be honest with yourself, diplomatic with others.
Do not go crazy a lot. It’s a waste of time.
Drink plenty of water. When asked what you would like to
drink, say, “Water, please.”
Take out the trash.
Use exact change.
When there’s shooting in the street, don’t go near the window.