It's the loose ends with which men hang themselves. - Zelda Fitzgerald
Today's livable wellness moment comes from an afternoon last week when I was caught up in the myth of the loose ends.
The night before this experience, I was driving home from the east end of Toronto after seeing a friend for a late dinner. I got hit with a heavy case of the dry-eye droop. I had to pull over and ended up sleeping for a few hours in my car. I stopped at two motels and two hotels. The former were by-the-hour joints and the latter were full.
So I slept in my car because I wasn't safe to drive and I didn't have any other options. I made it through one REM cycle in the front seat of my Versa and woke up at 2:47am. I felt well enough to drive and made it home for 4:00AM.
I can think of no better set up for a brutal Saturday.
I woke up later that morning and started to piece together my day by starting with some loose ends from the week.
In late afternoon, my husband suggested we go for a walk on the trails near our place. Sounds like a plan, I said.
My body went on the walk, my mind was at home sizing up my list of loose ends.
I was walking with my head down, staring at the patch of road three feet ahead while listening to a medicine podcast. I could feel my head tightening and I was absolutely out of my body and all up into the grill of my brain. I was doing what Tara Brach, clinical psychologist and meditation teacher, calls 'contracting' in one of my favourite lectures from her. People contract mostly out of fear, she believes. I tend to agree. I was carrying around a lot of fear around being behind that day.
Then I had this gorgeous moment, this splicing of my mindset with an intense awareness of right now. I've been really actively cultivating mindfulness for several months now. In some way, I believe I called the shift into existence even though it felt like a gift bestowed upon me.
I switched off the medicine podcast and looked up at the sky.
I smiled. If for no reason but to see if I could.
And the awareness arrived quickly - I started walking with my neck arched upwards, my shoulders rolled back and my head looking up at the sky's mix of azure, sunflower and ice white.
I chose expansion in that split second.
I got out of my head and into my body. And I felt happy.
Nothing materially changed. My husband didn't know I was making the shift. I just felt gleeful all of a sudden where before I felt spinny and heavy.
This thing we call happiness is a choice, with important special applications and exceptions for people with mental illness. Rich people or successful people do not have a monopoly on this choice. Wealth may afford more opportunities for moments like these but there is no evidence the rich actually use them for shifting to happiness.
I stopped running my list by expanding my awareness. And the day felt pretty good after that. Even on four hours of sleep. I invite you to try the same and to tell me how it goes.
"I'll be sure to tie up all my loose ends first so that I can enjoy the last day of my life" - Unknown.