This week, I did something delicious. I read a short fiction novel, 'Glaciers' by Alexis M. Smith, about nothing in particular – well, perhaps it was about longing, love and loss and the tenderness of life, but it was fun and not too heavy even in all that. Tucked into this book was a gem of a line - “the woman seems ready to be pleased with the world.” Like a cartoon pan to the head, I at once found myself smiling from ear to ear while a sad chuckle registered. “What would it be like to be ready to be pleased with the world?”
I do find delight in the world each day. The sound of the heat kicking on as the rain pours down. The generous, iridescent pink dahlias persisting in my garden. The cup of tea steaming beside me while I write and my baby sleeps. These things I notice and cherish. While I cherish these little moments – these moments of beauty captured is a second – I mostly see these moments as the antidotes to a worldview that says something is wrong with the world. In other words, I recognize these moments and appreciate them, but I appreciate them as something that fixes a world that is inherently not right.
No, I really don’t believe the world is a bad place, and I ultimately believe people are good. Yet, I realize that I tend to approach my life as though something is wrong and needs to be fixed. For instance, I’ve been sharing in classes recently about how dominated my inner dialogue is by blame. “He didn’t do those dishes right.” “Crappy drivers, get out of the left lane.” “Why can’t people be nice in the coffee line?” Oh wait, look who’s talking!
I could attribute this critical worldview to my excellent, intellectual, stimulating education. I could attribute this worldview to any number of horrific things I read about in the paper today. I could attribute this worldview to the time I spent teaching in inner-city schools. Everything in our culture seems to point to an idea that something is inherently wrong and needs everyone, and everything needs to be fixed. In truth though, this point of view, happened somewhere much earlier in my life and I realize it has been living me.
This way of seeing the world, though, is not getting me what I want. When I’m in that internal dialogue, I am shut off from connection, shut off from play, and most importantly, I’m shut off from delight. I want to experience delight in my life, not more heaviness. In fact, the word that most resonates is perhaps luminosity – I want to feel luminous in my life.
And so, this idea caught me and thankfully won’t let go. What would it be like to be ready to be pleased with the world – not fix the world, not change the world, not manage or control the world, but be pleased with the world? This will be my practice for the month of November. I can’t imagine a better way to show gratitude for my life than to be pleased with the all I am given to experience.