After our house flooded with hot water last Thursday we have been navigating the internal waters of doubt and uncertainty! Constant adjustments to our routine are happening every minute of the day. The new normal is improvisation! Continuous reinventions of everyday routines make me realize that we are creatures of habit and monsters of expectation!
And then today as I was walking up the hotel stairs to get to the room, I currently call home; I discovered that I was actually enjoying myself! In the middle of all this crazy insecurity was a sudden flash of absolute joy and elation. I had to take a good look in the mirror as I entered back into my basic hotel room to make sure I was not sporting a weird rash or any visible signs of sudden madness… But no, all checked out pretty normal!
So what can cause a human being such joy in the midst of being displaced from their home, dealing with insurance claims, wet baseboards, ruined walls, damaged electronics, drenched furniture and soaked rugs, I asked myself. Total emotional confusion? Mental illness? Or possibly PTSD? Much to my relief an interior investigation revealed the following:
• All that was hurt in the flood was “stuff”. My family has suffered some minor trauma from the shock of it all – but nothing a little understanding and some honest conversation can’t fix. We are all ok. That discovery is so fundamentally joyful.
• We are surrounded with a caring community. We have neighbors that initially helped get the right kind of flood Remediation Company called in, and who helped us face the damages with a steady and calm presence. We have friends who upon realizing we were unable to be in our home for Mother’s Day spontaneously invited us over for a lovely luncheon complete with a private concert by one of their talented daughters. In addition there are many who have told us to just ask if we need any help at all. The looks in their eyes and their sincerity speak volumes of the kindness of the human heart.
• Living in the moment of just “winging it” with regards to everyday occurrences adds a new kind of spontaneity and creativity to our days – A recent example: How does a 9 year-old do homework in the hotel room, when there are no pencils there? Well, he goes and asks and the hotel clerk who just happens to have a sharpened pencil, and is willing to let him borrow it…. The look of accomplishment as our young student bounces back into the room to tell me “it worked” shows renewed confidence in self and others.
• If I forget the key when I go out– I can just ask at the desk for another one!
• The simple realization that I am so fortunate and my current troubles are merely temporary in nature and fixable. My heart and my prayers go out to the people whose houses are totally flooded in the Midwest and South, the permanently displaced in Japan, the hungry and homeless everywhere.
I also discovered that my previous worries and doubts were focused on scenarios projected into the future: “What if this happens” – type situations. When I am now actually in a situation of dealing with a bit of hardship, I live focused on the here and now, navigating the waters from moment to moment. This might be a blessing in disguise! I am reminded that life lessons can be found in all situations if we are able and willing to embrace them. I experience why community is so important to our well-being! A recent article from Ode Magazine describes this kind of new-found joy lived by people who are in the wake of an unthinkable disaster; the people of Sendai, Japan.
So what is our definition of happiness in our acquisition focused world? How much time do we spend living out our projected scenarios worrying about loss of property or loss of life? What if our attempts to make ourselves “secure” is a big part of our internal suffering? What if accepting a helping hand from a fellow human being, or extending such, is more fulfilling than a new designer purchase? How will looking at “uncertainty” as “invitation for improvisation” change our perceptions? What happens if “keeping up with our neighbors” is replaced with “keeping our neighbors”?
I continue to live these questions as I put one foot in front of the other allowing each moment to envelop me in its perfection.