On Accessing Life

This is the greatest dance I’ll ever dance.

I’m 34. I’m a mother, a teacher, a sober person. An aunt, a friend. I’m educated but under-schooled. A breakout and a recluse. All I really know is me and I’m still learning.

But I've learned this.

Realized under the canopy of green leaves returned;
by way of two cups of life resting on the brown coffee table
taking in the morning sun;
in the familiar curvature of the serpentine curtains against the window.

I've learned this: I am, too.

Here in this place, raging and still, I am, too.

I don’t know if it’s me or if this is part of being human, but for so long, and still, life has often felt just out of arm’s reach. Not always but definitely when on auto-pilot. I see it but it feels distant. Not mine. I wonder what I am missing that prevents me from fully accessing the joy.

It’s an underlying belief that what I see does not belong to me because it’s not mine. Sometimes I will look at this beautiful view on somebody’s house, perhaps the way the sun hits it or the way the front-lawn flowers are shaded and I’ll believe that thought.

I’ll see something so exquisite, so simply exquisite, and a small voice pops in to say, “Yeah that’s nice but that’s not yours. That’s theirs. It’s on their house. It’s their joy.”

Take the window in my alley. I’ve passed it dozens of times. It’s caught my eye each time because it’s just so beautiful. So ordinary and beautiful. I love the pillows pushed against the windowpane making an appearance of a small reading nook; the mobile that hangs from the ceiling and the smallest arc of paint that’s viewable. I love this tiny glimpse into somebody’s life and the joy I imagine they feel in their cozy living space.

The other day, that same voice caught me again, and I found myself comparing, perhaps coated with some jealousy: “Oh, their life must be so good.”

What I wasn’t saying is the deeper cut. Because underneath that common thought was something more wrenching: the implication that my life isn’t good. If their life is so great, and I felt a need to comment to myself about that, than that implies mine is not. It’s what I was doing in that moment although I wasn’t conscious of it at the time. With my assumption that their life was so great–an assumption based on a mind web of schema and emotion, mind you–I knocked myself down and out.

I took something that was fully accessible to me and said I couldn’t have it. I don’t have it.

And that’s simply not true.

A few weeks ago I was on a walk and it hit me: their window, those flowers, I am getting that, too. They may not be mine, I do not own them, nor are they on my property, but that view, that joy, that simple joy–I am getting that. The joy I am getting from seeing these sights is real, is true, does belong to me. I can just take it right now, no questions asked. No barriers. Aside from privilege and all that that encompasses, we can remember, those views are ours as well. The grass is ours to see. Those birds are ours to hear. The sky is ours to rejoice in and at any time I can put myself in the center of love.

This life is for me, too.
I get to drop in anytime and access it.
Dropping in to being alive
and taking in all of the views.

. . .

I call this the greatest dance because I am in constant motion. One moment my steps are aligned and I have no problem remembering this. But others, the times when I feel some cell, some aspect, some matter is missing, I feel off. I trip a little over my own feet. I know something’s not quite right. I’m not fully present. Maybe a little gratitude would help. I know the muscle memory is there if only I could get myself rolling.

On that walk, the moves came back. I pivoted, I ball-changed. I remembered again.

Life is always there. It’s ripe for the taking.

I noticed that when life starts to feel at that arms-length away from me, my mind is usually swirling thoughts of difficulty. Something, anything, minor or big feels pressing. It sits there, taking up space, and putting on pressure to do something about it. It’s almost as if I were trying to get into a doorway and someone was pushing against my chest to prevent me from entering. I see where I want to go but I just can’t quite get in. Sometimes it’s forceful and sometimes it’s a light nudge back.

Those nagging thoughts become a block. They take me out of the life that is available to me right now.

. . .

Yesterday in another walk in my neighborhood’s secret garden I had a different thought: Release yourself from the attachment of what’s hard.

It worked. At least for this number. I shuffled and twirled myself away from the clutches of a thought trying to hold me back. I reminded myself that nothing was preventing me from this life except for me. I dropped back in to what I saw: the emerald leaves hugging a fence; the branches that appear as if they’re suspended in air; the petals dancing their way to the ground. They became mine, too.

So much of this life is untouched. What’s yours is yours and what’s mine is mine. But yesterday I remembered my access. I remembered we coexist. I remembered the joy available to me.

Thank you for the views.

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