It is insidious. Like a snake in one's pantry, negativity lies hissing at disturbances. One needs sustenance; we reach into our storage rooms that we've stocked over the years, and instead of savour and succour, the snake raises its sinister eyes, and lashes out with its forked tongue. We easily fall victim to the negativity. Our peace is disturbed; often severely; sometimes, it seems, fatally. We easily can see "every setback as the end of the world."
'Tuesday's with Morrie' tunes down that snake. Despite the imminence of certain death, Morrie stays positive in a world of angst. "Are you at peace with yourself?" his question resonates. It is a theme that drives the show. That, and the phrase, "Yes, but you are the same person, wherever you go." And when so very much of one's life can be a natter of negativity, it is worth examining the thoughts that so pervade our sensibilities. “We are what we think.” And since our thinking evolves into our speech, into our habits, and even into our actions, to be "at peace with oneself" is a hard-won concept, indeed.
Negativity is like a great seething pond over which one hovers on temporary Lilly-pads. We can feel so very good, for but a while. Generally, there's this morass of moments waiting to suck us in. There's the kitchen to be cleaned, the bed to be made, the clothes to be ironed, the dog to walk, the plants to feed. There's the mouse the cat brought in. It is the phone call; the problem with scheduling; the parking spot that someone else took. It is the price of eggs. It's the concert that is sold out! It is the desire to be anywhere but here. It is the uncomfortable conversation. It is the disaffection and the distancing and the uncertainty. It is the snake that hisses up at me. It is my thoughts and feelings and insecurities and the wishes that I might have done otherwise, especially in the past. "You only have regrets if you've lived your life the wrong way, chasing after the wrong things," Morrie says. And so that snake sidles on in the psyche, saturating the senses.
Being at peace with oneself is a time-worn practice. We can but do what we do. How else to forgive the self? How else to forgive others? "I was too young when I was needed most," Morrie tells his former student, Mitch, "And you were too young too. We did what we were able to do!"
Yes, we can forgive ourselves, and more importantly, forgive others if we have compassion for the fact that at each step of our journey, on the perfect moments of our own imbalance on those insecure Lilly-pads (of our progress over the slew of possibilities,) we chose to move on to the next; and after that, the next one too! We make decisions in the moment, based on who we are at the time, not on who we are now. For, "…inside me I'm every age I've ever been." And one needs be at peace with that. And one needs be at peace with ‘now’ too. Or when might one otherwise be? "If you're waiting for that perfect moment to say the wise and wonderful things you want to say to someone at the end," Morrie intones, "you better have great timing! The wise and wonderful things you want to say to people at the end, are the kind of things you should say, all your life."
Yes, being at peace with oneself is a perpetual practice. (Even maneuvering from Lilly-pad to Lilly-pad is an exercise of getting one's feet wet.) We cannot but be distracted by the daily dictums of living, "the accidental journeys; the unexpected questions." We needs indeed have that "little bird on your shoulder that asks, am I ready, am I being the person I want to be?"
Or does one give in, give up, "withdraw from the world", and allow for the insidious natter of one's own negative feelings and talk pervasively to hiss up from the very recesses of one's own being, let alone from the perpetual assaults of the daily diurnal of dissolutions that seems so easily to sink one into despair? No! Acceptance is all. And doing almost anything that we do, with grace and gratitude, helps, indeed. Yes? (Now then, to get up and clean those windows!)