This Is What Is
Many days I wake up – and before my morning tea and hot bath (yep, I’m a regular tub person) – I feel like I get tossed into a big ol’ washing machine.
Still groggy with bedhead, I unknowingly reach into the appliance, mid-cycle, and get pulled into a sea of thoughts and mental loops that toss me from left to right, and spin me clockwise and back again.
I am not in control. Instead, I’m a victim of life’s circumstances. The sun has yet to rise and I am already lost – amidst old dirt, waterlogged wishes, and spent energy. And I continue throughout the day at the mercy of the washing machine.
On these days, I don’t live life.
Life lives me.
It must have always been like this. Though now I am aware of the turbulence. I’m awake to the incessant swish of thoughts and the broken-record stories.
For the past few weeks, my mind has been stuck on the Power wash setting – on hot. But a few days ago, I heard a quote that stopped me mid spin/rinse cycle. Mary Beth LaRue of Rock Your Bliss – a yoga-inspired coaching business – read the following words by Byron Katie, from her book The Work:
“I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality. No thinking in the world can change it. What is is. Everything I need is already here now. How do I know I don’t need what I want? I don’t have it. So everything I need is supplied.”
Her words momentarily paused the flood of attachments, emotions, and illogical desires.
I prompted myself, What is true, right now? Not what do I believe to be true. Or what do I wish was true. Instead, What is real? What is solid and tangible and proven?
I thought of this all day. And the next. And on Tuesday night, when I took my dog for a walk, I repeated the following words to myself: This is what is. This is what is. Over and over and over again.
I looked up, rather than down the barrel of my laundry room appliance. And the sun was about to set, the hills were a vibrant green, and if I paid attention to each footfall, I felt more grounded, connected, and whole. It was a gorgeous day to be alive.
Yes, This is what is.
I started taking in the landscape with voracious detail. I noticed the way the desiccated leaves blew faster than their greenish counterparts. They flickered in the wind, catching sun like dancing twinkle lights. I watched Wally (my Scottish Terrier, who’s currently rocking an awkward spring haircut) stick his head into every ground-squirrel hole in hopes of finding an unsuspecting resident taking an afternoon siesta.
But my favorite part was making our way up the driveway and seeing the silhouette of six deer peering down from the top of the hill. Twelve ears obstructed the sky. Twenty-four hooves waited expectantly, wondering how long they should wait before loping into the canyon on the other side.
I thought of all of this while I watched them.
This is what is.
These deer. Me. The sunset. This moment.
I’m doing my best this week to keep my hands out of all heavy machinery and to stop fighting the black and white of reality with my shades of bewilderment. Though there are definitely days when I get tossed into the mix of dirty garments of the past, unrealistic visions of the future, and assumptions about circumstances of which I have no insight.
It takes many reminders – and a few swift kicks to the unbalanced washer – to remind myself the only things I have are right here, right now. And I am grateful and privileged to have everything I need.
In those moments, my anger ticket with reality is pulled. Clenched fists are released. Hot coals are dropped. The washer’s cycles suddenly cease.
And I can kindly tell life, Hey bud – you are no longer living me.