Some smartypants, who heard me pontificate that how we define our world creates our world, recently asked if I could define myself.
If I’d thought about it, I would have said what my beloved Yogananda once remarked: I’m a tiny bubble of laughter in the sea of mirth. Thankfully, instead of searching for poetry, I simply opened my heart and found myself blurting, “I am a very gifted person.” By that I didn’t mean talented, as many do when they use that adjective. I meant, literally, a person who has been given gifts––in my case, beaucoup.
It may sound a bit much to say so, but at pushing 70 I’m staggered with awe for my life, the result of somehow, almost magically it seems, finding the joy in considering each moment, each situation, each person I meet, a gift. So what if it’s taken me every one of these years to get here? And what’s particularly amazing is that, most of the time, I forget to see things this way. I rant and rave to myself about all sorts of nonsense; there isn’t a sin I haven’t either committed or wanted to. Yet, despite my low batting average, it’s still enough to spark more than a little speechless gratitude.
Yogananda counsels that growing to live in the consciousness of the divine takes 25 percent our effort, 25 percent the effort of our guru, and 50 percent God’s grace. Believe me, I’m not selling myself short when I say I’m a long way from holding up my end of the bargain. Which tells me, it doesn’t take much to be delighted. In fact, I feel like I’ve cheated, like someone slipped me the secret to a playful heart, a secret that is insanely simple, obvious in hindsight, and among the most powerful ideas on earth.
It is where this essay began: how we define our world creates our world. My every thought, feeling and expression is my creation in some essential sense. A choice, in other words. And since I choose how I see things, I choose to see everything as a gift––including my anger and shame. I also choose to find that life’s purpose, whatever else it might be, includes figuring out how come it’s all a gift. And, that union with the divine continually unfolds, my capacity to love growing forever...whatever forever means.
Moreover, I choose to make these choices based not on sacred tomes or the wisdom of others (both of which I cherish), but on my own experience. I try stuff, try not to kid myself, and keep what works. Do I feel I have some special insight on “the truth”? Don’t be silly.
That’s it: simple minded, perhaps, but the root of a lot of laughter and forgiveness.