Kind promise: I will love without keeping score.
I am reminding myself today to love my life.
That’s a tall order when I am in an ill and disabled body.
My body doesn’t do what I ask it to do. It keeps me from doing things I want to do. Not only is it not this culture’s ideal body, but it doesn’t function well. How can I love this imperfection?
Aye, there’s the rub: imperfection.
Because we humans have such great imaginations, we can picture the world being different than it is. Yesterday, in an ESL classroom, I was asked to define the word “hope.” I said it is “thinking that the future will be better.” We imagine a world in which everything that bothers us now is no longer. When it comes to bodies, we ask for symmetry and ability and proportions that conform to an ideal.
The good news about hope is that it can pull us forward when we would otherwise give up. The bad news about hope is that it raises unrealistic expectations. It is all about the future and when we are thinking about the future we are not in the present moment.
“You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves,” advises Mary Oliver. I watch Cocoa the dog. She is not concerned that her hair is turning white or that her chin is not as well defined as it once was. She curves herself into her dog bed and plays with her stuffed sheep, growling and pawing. She is an unexpected bodhisattva.
Forget about being as good as anybody else. Release any ideas that life as it is can’t be tolerated. Instead, find joy in the jumble of rocks and papers on the desk. Smile at the last sentence – rocks and papers? Sounds ridiculous!
No need for life to be easy or for this body to be anything it isn’t. Right here, sitting at my desk with the door open and the chimes on the deck ringing in the soft breeze, all is well. Julian of Norwich had it right: “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’”
Here is my experiment for the rest of the month: love each moment and each circumstance without wanting it to be any different than it is.