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Medicine Story and Ellika
Let’s make a decision here. Remember now that all our power resides in our ability to choose. We all really want and hope for a Happy New Year as we wish that for each other. I know I do. I’m guessing that you do too. I’m only reminding you and myself that we can have a happy new year. All of us. Absolutely. The happiness we seek is not external. Nothing outside of us in life will ever make us happy. We know that. If you don’t know that you better catch up, because that is basic if happiness is what you want. Nothing in the world outside your self will ever make you happy.
Outside conditions can make life difficult, but we can experience disaster, loss of loved ones, loss of all we hold dear, and still decide how to feel about that. We can give up and kill ourselves, or lose ourselves in drugs and addictions, or just rail at our condition, like Job. But it is in our nature not to give up but fight back, and to find a dignity and a self-acceptance in that. Think Stephen Hawking when he was told he had two years to live, think the American baseball hero Lou Gehrig, telling the world he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth as he retired facing early death from ALS, read the words of Victor Frankl, Elie Wiesel, Anne Frank.
There is plenty to feel terrible about: there are billions of homeless, hungry, desperate people while some of us have more than we need and a small number of us have an obscene wealth never considering other people or other creatures or the Earth to be their responsibility. That human beings are bent on killing strangers and hurting even those close to them. That innocent little children are being abused and mistreated, growing up with no hope for the future. To remember all that too is good for us, for our clarity and dignity, and to think what our own part might be to change all that we can of that.
But whatever exists out there, whatever we decide to do at any moment, we can also decide to feel good about ourselves, about our lives and what we are doing about them. When we do we will be clearer, more confident and effective in all we do to be helpful. Feeling bad will help nothing.
Right now take a deep breath and feel that breath feeding your body and your life. Take a deep breath and smile, says Thich Nhat Hanh, noting the psychological fact that it is hard to feel bad when your face is smiling. Smile and say to yourself, “This is a wonderful moment!”
And it is. This moment is a moment full of wonders that, until we stop and allow the awareness, until we expand our consciousness beyond our tiny selves, we do not notice. Right now the fourteen billion year-old universe is alive with wonders, enough in our galaxy alone out of billions of galaxies, enough wonders in our solar system and on our planet Earth, enough in our stories, our imaginations, our loves, enough inside our bodies in the quantum universe within us, more than enough wonders to dazzle and delight the swiftly spinning years of our mortal lives.
So whatever hardships you may be facing, you can complain and depress yourself, or you can say, in the words of my friend Wavy Gravy’s song Basic Human Needs: “Thank goodness for something to do!”
Thank goodness. In the wisdom of my elders, thank the Earth, our beautiful, bountiful mother, and thank our relatives the plants, the animals, our human cousins, and thank our distant family across the universe traveling with us, and thank the unknown force and law generating all, the Great Mystery.
The Great Truth, that all the wise ones keep telling us, is that our happiness does not lie in making our lives better. Some of it does. Not so much, still we must attend to that. But our deepest joy and our true happiness lie in what we do to help make other lives better. The lives of our family of course, and friends, but also of strangers, the ones we meet every day at work and on the streets, and those we never meet in other lands,, and other species too, the life in the seas, and Mother Earth herself.
So a big part of my happiness is to tell you that while I live I will be thinking of you, wanting to listen to you, to learn more about and from you, to get and stay ever closer, and to be here for you however I may. Many of you write to me, and I am so happy when you do, when I can be part of your joys and struggles and confusions and sorrows and hopes. When I can feel we are all in this together.
Then it is easy for me to decide to put all my attention on what gives me strength and clarity and joy. Partly on myself, my health, my curiosity and imagination, my caring and affection for my wife, my sons and their wives, my grandchildren, my friends, all children everywhere, and on every one of you. Yes, you too. It is important to me that we are here together in this life, figuring it out together, opening our hearts, reaching out to share.
So a Happy New Year for us all is my resolution.
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