People who wrap skeletons with hand-knitted scarves and tie brightly colored yarn to hula hoops– these are my kind of people. This weekend I participated in an iphoneography class at Oil & Cotton, our local community art studio whose shop window is full of the delights described above. (What is ipheoneagraphy? Learning how to use your IPhone and apps to take the best photos you can.)
While there with a group of other folks from my neighborhood I felt myself humming with contentment– that deep hum of pleasure which is born from being in the right place at the right time with a tribe of like-minded souls to support the process.
This experience made me curious. Why do we like the things we like?
Why are we drawn to the people or things we love?
If these urges come from our deepest reservoirs they are always nourishing and they always lead us closer to truth. They might make us happy in a way that baffles people looking on from the outside. (Alternatively, they may find it endearing or inspiring. Doesn’t it make you feel good to see someone really sinking their teeth into something they love, even if you don’t understand why they dig it?) Sometimes it can just feel like finally scratching the itch after ignoring it for a long time.
Another case study from my life this week would be these gifts of the magi bathsalts. For years I’ve wanted to make them (I remember a few years back when I first learned that you could still buy Frankincense, who knew?!) and today look what is sitting on my mantle, ready to put the final touches on them and give to our kiddos’ teachers as presents. (We used essential oils of Frankincense, Myrrh and wild orange as “gold.”) There are so many because two of my littles go to a bilingual school so we have one for each of their Spanish and English teachers. Perl and Coleman crafted little love notes and we rolled them up and tied them on.
I have spent a lot of time ignoring inner voices that tell me to followup on simple things which make me happy. I have focused on trying to perform, excel, and succeed. At my worst this felt like giving myself out to the world and waiting for someone else to give me back. This is a very ungrounded way to live. And it sucks.
And I’m not alone. As Alain de Botton explains in his book Status Anxiety, we live under an enormous amount of psychological pressure in our “winner take all” society. Sure we relish the idea that anyone can succeed. Yet if you don’t win, you pretty much are a loser. And with the glories of the internet and Facebook we can be comparing ourselves to any and everyone all day long. So even when you “win” your winning isn’t done. You have to get back out there and earn the gold star again.
I want out of the gold star economy. I want to live a life where I honor my creative nudges and my ambition. Where I can take a few days off as I did this week to care for a sick little one and still feel that I’m showing up for my work in the world. Where I can meditate and make money, live into the size of my dreams and honor my soul and body’s truth along the way.
And I want to be a part of and support a community of people who own their soul longings and lean into them, big and small, for I truly believe that is the practice which breathes life into ourselves, our families, and our world.
So how to do it? It starts with tuning into our longings and desires. And Advent, the four weeks before the twelve day Feast of Christmastide, is a great season to tune into them. It is full of hope and expectation. Tuning in can be as little as signing up for a community class in the new year simply because you’ve always wanted to learn more about it. Or it might be bigger, like charging what your worth so you can go on an eco-tour of Morocco in the fall. Or somewhere in between.
It all starts with knowing what your dreams are. Honoring their heft and hue. Tuning into them and loving them and asking what they have to teach you. Sometimes what you really value surprises you but is a guide you can trust.
Much love to you, Birders.
Wishing you a warm and lovely Winter Solstice, Christmas and New Year!