The world hums and we bump along with the humming, a humming that never stops. We have such a limited amount of time in this world that is both expansive in its reach yet also brief in its touch. For as long as I can remember I have felt that the eyes of this world were burning a hole in me. Waiting, watching, observing my actions and missteps. I wondered many times if other people felt this way about the universe or if I’ve tapped into something unique and magical. Maybe it’s just the way I perceive the world around me and the pieces that I have observed fitting together. Together, it seems, everyone is part of this tapestry that blankets the Earth.
I know that I’ve written before about being a child with deep thoughts and existential questions. I’d look up at the sky while swinging and feel the warmth of a loving, watchful parent that was larger than my own parents, but more of a god or energy source that pulsed from the Earth’s soil and sky. I would all at once feel protected, yet vulnerable. This feeling and questions pertaining to myself and the spirit that lives inside of me has been a lifelong quest.
I have realized that we all have questions about the purpose of our existence and wonder about the correct path to take when faced with divergence. In college I picked up everything I could that was written by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau in addition to authors from the Beat Generation that explored spiritual quests, among other topics. I searched for validation and a sense of being understood through their work.
The natural world, removed from the materials that we possess, at its simplest form – has always resonated with me. Material possessions confuse me and make me feel unsettled. Do I want this and why? Do I need more of this? What is the purpose of these materials? Many times they complicate our lives and end up being stored, stacked, collecting dust. I try to live as simply as possible. I know that there are many people in this world doing a far better job than I, but I don’t see this as a competition. We need to find that place within ourselves where we surround ourselves with what we need and desire, not too much, not too little – but just right. At that point, the just right point, our collections should not be things at all, but rather experiences.
Experiences can be had individually or with others and I believe both have their place of importance. Without having time to ourselves we don’t know what we have to offer others or the greater world. The first point of focus should be on our own wellbeing, care, and love. I am certainly not perfect at this, but I do work on it every day. If I find myself wincing when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or squirm when attention is placed on me, I know I have some work to do. This is a signal to myself that I need to focus on self-love. The first step I take when receiving this signal is to identify what it was that I just said to myself. For example, if I look in the mirror and feel distaste, what is it that my mind just told me about that image? Did I think – “your hair is so frizzy and out of control – I’m sure it is all anyone sees when they look at you”. Once I’ve identified what it was that I said to myself, I can readjust with kindness. The way I do this is ask whether I would ever say that or think that exact same thing about a friend or family member. Would I ever say or even think such hurtful things about them? The answer is no. Then I look straight at myself and say, “I am sorry that I was so hurtful to you.” Sometimes an apology to yourself and moving on can be good enough. Sometimes, depending on the level of hurtful thought, it may take a little bit more mending. If I’ve thought up a long story about why my hair is frizzy and it’s always been frizzy and it’s just so terrible and ugly and matches my ugly freckles and pale skin, etc., etc. then I need to do more to correct this offense.
After apologizing to myself, I would then state three things that I am grateful for that is looking back at me. I might say, “I am so grateful that I have the sense of sight and can see clearly thanks to the wonderful invention of glasses and contacts. I am grateful for my strong body that gets me from place to place without pain. I am grateful for the ability to breathe in clean air.” All of those things are present in the mirror, but might not seem as obvious. It is my job (and your job too) to call out and give attention to those parts of us that can go easily missed.
Share yourself, share love
Once we’ve addressed ourselves individually, we are much more pleasant with others. Other people can sense your level of love for yourself and it radiates into your relationship with them. When you have love for yourself, you are a walking, radiant, source of love that breathes into your experiences with those around you. This love and exchange that occurs between you and the world around you is the humming that has always been and will continue to be, long after you and I have gone.