I recently had the chance to catch up with some of my former colleagues from the University I previously taught at. The school had a peace vigil this past Friday and since I’m in town house/pet-sitting, I decided to attend. I’m pretty disgusted with the events as of late in this country of ours, and supporting peace through lovely words and prayers seemed like a wonderful idea.
While there, several people made the same comment to me: you look so happy. I consider this compliment to be one of the greatest I can receive, because, truthfully, I do feel happy, and this wasn’t always the case. This past year of living a writer’s life, spending as much time as I can with my husband, and playing with and caring for dogs in exchange for amazing houses to live in, has been such a blessing. I am so grateful at the friends I have made this past year and the opportunities that have presented themselves.
These feelings of joy and gratitude were especially salient yesterday as I walked around a forest preserve. I thought I had been driving to another community gathering of love and peace, but it turned out I had the wrong location. Although that was bad news, the good news was I ended up at Fullersburg Woods, a forest preserve of DuPage County.
For about an hour, I wandered around enjoying the beauty of Salt Creek, before settling myself on some rocks by the Rainbow Bridge to simply be at one with nature. Although I missed the community fellowship I had been anticipating, I couldn’t have asked for a more peaceful way to spend my afternoon. And I wasn’t really alone. Spirit surrounded me, as did the rocks, trees, birds, leaves, and waves from the river.
Walking along the trail on my way back from the bridge, I began marveling at the world around me. Then, it hit me! One of the reasons I think I’m so happy is I’m able to find wonder and awe in the little things. I began thinking of what brings me the most joy in life. Here’s an incomplete list:
- Laughing with my husband
- Playing with dogs
- Talking about dogs with my Mom
- Reading a good book
- Finishing a draft of a story
- Helping someone edit a draft of their writing
- Fantasizing about future travels, especially if they can include family and/or friends
- Watching funny online videos of animals, particularly bears
It’s good to know these things because right now, there’s a lot of unhappiness and turmoil in the world. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, especially when it’s hard to know what to do in response. What I liked most about the vigil I attended on Friday is that the event was not against anyone or anything. I have often heard spiritual teachers caution against what you give your energy to, such as an anti-war protest versus a rally for peace.
With these thoughts in mind, I am recommitting myself to focus on the things in my life that bring me joy. Selfish and elitist? Perhaps. But I’m going to subscribe to the words of Gandhi: Be the change you wish to see in the world. I wish to see peace and happiness. So that’s what I’m going to be. Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me…one youtube bear video at a time.