Digging Through the Muck
During a recent conversation, and in a moment that I’m sure was marked by the exasperation of wanting very much to understand, but not quite knowing the way forward—my most dearest friend, took a long, deep breath and said to me, “I just don’t know what to do.”
We were having one of those conversations, the deep and soulful—and sometimes painful sort that often takes place before we are able to learn and grow. It was one of those forever moments, that we mentally bookmark—never knowing at the time its true value, but knowing enough to tuck it away for a second look.
Life is just this way. It likes to sometimes hide its messages and lessons, in ways that force us to dig deep through the thickest of mud and muck to find the gem inside.
And sometimes in the digging through we find something most surprising: that the “gem” was there inside us, all along.
Sometimes, we don’t always know what to do.
Sometimes, there is nothing we can do.
And sometimes, the things we are supposed to be doing get lost in the complexity and emotion of those things we are trying so desperately to understand. It’s in these cases, where it becomes most important to fall back to basics—and remember life’s simple rules for living.
It’s not a very long list, after all. But if you dig through the muck and the mud long enough, you might just find that gem inside.
Life’s Simple Rules for Living
1. Upon waking up, and before your toes touch the floor…
…always remember to take a moment to do a mental count of all those things that make you smile, and all of those many reasons you are forever and so endlessly grateful. And then, when your toes do touch the floor… let it be a reminder to carry all these things in your heart as you move forward through your day. This is my process every morning. It works pretty well. Unless, I step on a Lego, in which case, I fall back to my bed and repeat that process all over again.
…and before you even brush your teeth. Maybe also have it set on a timer so that when you wake up that beautiful aroma surrounds you, kind of like a “welcome mat” for your day. I do this too—only these days, I fill my cup with decaf. But that aroma remains the same.
3. Hot towels, right after a shower…
…for me are a Godsend. I know it seems frivolous and probably way too much of an indulgence, but if you don’t have one, get a towel warmer. Just for you. There’s nothing like being swallowed up by an oversized, super fluffy, hot towel. Hot towels are good for your soul—I’m convinced of it.
4. Read, everything…
…because good stories, particularly the farthest-fetchiest ones, are the ones that build hope and dreams, and set our hearts to believe that everything is a possibility. And good stories seem always to find their way to the “happily ever after” —no matter how difficult or complicated or twisty the story line.
5. Go for walks in the woods, long ones.
And don’t take anyone with you. Be alone if even just for 15 minutes. There’s a beauty and a magnificence in this solitude, as you’re surrounded by an entire world of nature. This world is oblivious to all the interference in our days—the problems, the issues, the upsets. In nature, there is no sense of urgency, no marking of time. It’s the only place that I have ever felt so completely still.
6. It doesn’t matter.
Don’t get me wrong, some things matter, but in general, most of this stuff that we experience is just the noise of this life that surrounds us. At the end of the day, and in a much bigger way—these things only serve to steal away the fullness of those more beautiful moments. In the end, it’s what we have experienced and the love that we have shared that matters most of all. The memories that we create will still stand firmly in our place when our bodies are long gone from this earth. Our legacy is everything.
7. Simplify everything.
The big stuff and the little stuff, too. Take the easiest route from point A to point B, and eliminate all those extra steps our chattering minds would love always to insert on our behalf. Simplicity allows us the space to breathe.
8. Stop worrying.
Sometimes things are not always as they seem. Sometimes there are bits and pieces of the greater whole that are not always entirely visible in that moment when our minds begin the process of filling in the blanks. And sometimes the blanks are there for a very special purpose: adding to the mystery and magic of our lives and this great universe. Our energy is better spent in appreciating those little things that we can see fully. Like a tree bending in the wind, or a puppy sleeping on the edge of a couch. Or, in a friend saying to you, I’m here, now and I love you so fully and completely. It’s the worry that keeps us from being fully and completely here.
9. Laugh until your belly hurts.
This comes only after the long walking and the simplifying and the non-worrying. Find that one thing in your day, or that one memory that will creep up on you as a small giggle, or ends up stopping you in your tracks as you struggle to catch your breath and wipe the tears from your eyes. Because laughing this hard tears down all of the made up bullshit that is around us. And laughing this hard can take away any pain (no matter what). Laughing this hard can bring together even the most farthest away of spirits. And, laughing this hard leaves a wake of silliness and joy in its place. So laugh until your belly hurts, or until you wet your pants—whichever it is that may come first. It doesn’t matter, just laugh.
10. Memories are like little time capsules.
We choose what it is that gets so neatly locked into place for “discovery” so many moments further into our future. This time capsule has no limit—no capacity, no fill line. It’s endless, and waiting for you to fully embrace that moment and fill it with everything you’ve got. That’s why, when we can hear a song, or smell a faint scent wafting through the air…it instantly carries us back to that special place. And it’s also why, when I hold a peanut in my hand I think of that most unfortunate squirrel, who in spite of his best attempts still ended up taking one straight to the noggin. Myself? I’m a memory pack rat. I stuff it all in. Because I want to remember all of it, every moment.
11. It’s okay to dig out all of the pecans from the inside of your favorite butter pecan ice cream.
If it’s what you want, and what will make your heart smile, then baby, grab your spoon (or fork, if you prefer to limit the trail of pecan destruction evidence). Whatever it is that rocks your world, go out and get it. And don’t ever apologize or try to justify. Just do it. Embrace it. Life is way too short to be stuck in that silly endless process of wondering whether we should, or should not. Whether we ought to, or ought not. If it’s in your heart, and what matters most, then do it. And do it with the greatest flourish, and flair that you can possibly pack into that experience of finally having what it is that you’ve wished for all your life.
12. Boundaries and limits: they’re not always set in stone.
Sometimes you’ll meet someone with a crazy sense of adventure and spirit (like me) who’ll not rest until those limits and boundaries are pushed, and nudged, and finally nudged again. Some people, like me, are born into this space and role of continuously testing those limits. It will piss you off and probably make you crazy, but rest assured, there’s a little reason in all of that unsettled upset. It’s because, at heart, the person who is most testing your limits is usually the one that can see beyond potential and far into possibility. She’s the one who can stare at worthless, unworked patch of land and see a lifetime of exploration and adventure. And though sometimes this message can be lost inside the awkwardness of the pushing and the nudging, rest assured, it is always there for you to see. “Be limitless, and be in your limitlessness. Everything is possible.”
13. Love is the “takeaway.”
No matter where we are, and no matter where our paths may take us…no matter if we walk our paths together, or stumble along on our way alone, love is always the takeaway. And we should carry it in only the most special of ways, tucked closely and forever to our hearts, and look to it in these sometimes seemingly impossible situations, because…love is what carries us, and love is what gets carried on long after we are gone.
Sometimes we don’t always know what to do.
Sometimes there is nothing we can do.
But in every situation and circumstance it is always our choice in how to live inside each and every day. So, be forever mindful—and never forget, these little life lessons learned along the way.
Editor: Brianna Bemel
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