One Step Closer to Fine

I set out to write about last night’s debate today.  I was going to make a parallel to the Mayweather : Pacquiao fight that I (unfortunately) sat and watched all of last year.  It was gonna be a pretty clever post, I’m not gonna lie.  I have a lot of opinions and you were going to hear all of them.  Right down to decoding the body language on that stage. I went to the gym after thinking about it all morning, my brain had already begun to write it.  And at the gym I became so angry.  I was angry with everyone there.  Maybe it was just me, but I swear everyone else was in that same mood.  The energy this morning was just so… dark.  I came home to write it and… it just put me in a bad space.  I barely got two sentences down of the million I had already drafted in my head.  I found myself in this horrible mood, I felt uninspired, and basically just really disappointed.

So I got up and turned off CNN, put on my sneakers, plugged in my headphones, and headed out to walk outside.  I know myself, and all it takes to de-funk is a beautiful day to walk in and a pretty voice in my ears.  (And yet, remembering that sometimes is just so hard to do…)  Today was one of the most beautiful days I’ve witnessed in a long time.  And it made me realize something.  There is some real shit going on in our world right now.  Lots of ugly idiots saying some even uglier stuff.  We just had a hurricane come and destroy so many people’s lives and all people can talk about is what crap just came out of some old and tired white man’s ignorant mouth.  And I decided I didn’t want to feed into that.  I realized I didn’t like how it felt to talk about it.  I realized in doing so, even if I felt what he was saying was wrong, even if my writing and talking about it was only about how wrong I believe he is, I was still going low.  And what do we do when he goes low?

We go high.

Five minutes into my walk, with the help of Emily Sailers and Amy Ray singing in my ear and the sun shining on my face, I felt better.

Humanity.  Nature.  Beauty.  Love.

That’s our high.

We have this statue on our mantle of Budai. Budai is a Chinese folkloric deity, and he’s sometimes called Laughing Buddha because he’s always shown with a big smile on his face.  Budai is a protector of the weak and the poor, and a protector of children.  You may have seen statues with him showing a crowd of children in his wake.  He is known for being ‘poor, but content.’

Think about that for a second and think about what your initial and honest reaction was to hearing that. ‘Poor… but content? How can that be?’ We associate money with so many things.  Power. Beauty. Happiness. Our culture has come to worship those with high amounts of money, and we believe them to be happy and perfect. And then one day we find ourselves with someone who’s sole claim to fame is his money, without any other skill whatsoever, almost in charge of our country.

There was a time when we needed so much less and were far happier.  Maybe you can remember that yourself.  Do you remember not needing so many things and still smiling?  Some of the happiest people I have ever known were happy because of the real love in their lives and they didn’t have a lot of money, or things.  I think back on my happiest moments and money was never a part of it.

But love sure as hell was.  And compassion.  And hope.

I’m afraid our culture has lost what the true meaning of happiness is.  And it’s gotten worse over this past year.  Do you feel it?  We need to work hard to get that back.  I started my personal journey towards that today on my walk.  And it was incredibly easy to do.  While walking and listening to my music and feeling the breeze and the sunshine, my brain went to that small, white statue of Budai that has been on our mantle for years.  Budai is always shown with a small, cloth sack.  And inside that cloth sack are only the things he needs to be happy.  Along with ‘the sadness of the world’.  Budai is this round and happy, barefoot, wandering monk who goes around collecting people’s sadness all day.  He just takes it away. And he continues to be happy and smiling… carrying around that weight and that sadness all day.

Isn’t that an incredible notion?  Think of how happy someone needs to be, how strong, for them to be able to carry on after being filled with so much sadness.  Think of his aching feet.  His tired back.  None of that got in the way of his happiness and his smiles.  I walked for over an hour today.  I had weights on my ankles and weights in my hands, and you know what?  I was happy.  I didn’t wake up that way.  But I chose to be happy.  And I was.  No matter the noise and the static filling the air, I chose to put pretty music in my ears and walk in the sunshine for hours until my body was numb and tired.

But happy.

I think of Budai whenever I find myself complaining about something.  I’ll look up at my mantle and realize my problems are so tiny.  I believe we are capable of so much humanity and compassion.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember that when the world feels so mucked up like it is.

But part of battling the bad is simply believing that you can.

About 40 minutes into my walk, Closer To Fine came on.  I have heard that song a million and a half times since I was 8 years old.  But today it took on a new meaning.

Darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.

We feed our own darkness.  Everyday.  We feed it with thoughts.  With words about other people.  About ourselves.  All that darkness needs is a little whiff of blood, and bam! It’s Little Shop of Horrors.  And it will never stop being hungry until we kill it.  Dark is just so easy.  It’s so tempting.  It’s a quick solution to most of our problems.  And it is so much harder to find that light sometimes.  To hear it.  To see it.  To feel it.

But we have to.  We have to or else that big, white, darkness wins.

And we can get stuck inside our heads trying to solve problems and make sense of everything we think and feel, and it can bury us deep in a dark hole that’s hard to climb out of.  That’s what I was doing at my computer this morning.  I was trying to make sense of all this madness, trying to be clever with comparisons and join in that darkness.  I didn’t realize I was doing it, but I was.

Then I just stopped thinking about it.  I killed it.  I walked outside and felt something real.  And I heard the light’s call.

The less I seek my source for some definitive,
The closer I am to fine.

Sometimes once you stop thinking, the good stuff happens.  And the closer you are to fine.

Thanks for reading.  Be good, y’all.  xo

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