The shifts in thinking and tools for an abndant life in the book 30 Perfect Days are not new, but they work. Writing is an extension of the spoken word, as Alexandra Johnson expressed in her book Leaving a Trace, a way of having a narrative life that has more layers. In her sequel to The Artist’s Way, Walking in this World, Cameron stresses walking for spiritual sustenance and warding off bad thoughts. Yoga, like journaling and walking, clears the mind and brings consciousness to the present; it also reminds us that we are enough. The beach glass in my pocket, like a necklace, a rabbit’s foot, or a verse, reminds me of where I want to go. Writing down a list of absolutes, rules to live by, help us stay on the right path for living our best life. And when I attended a yoga retreat soon after my book was done, I created a vision board where the journey ended with these words:: “With optimism and visionary ideas, inventors, activists and yoga practitioners are reimaging the future of life on Earth—and making it happen.” The vision board was yet another tool for an excellent, if not perfect, life. Your challenge, if you choose it, is to ask, as Mary Oliver asks in her most famous poem, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” This is THE question we need to ask as we work with the tools and adjust our attitudes about Life.
Throughout this project, I worked on bringing about perfect moments—and now I ask, must we WORK to bring these changes about or just allow ourselves to shift ever so slightly in our bodies until we arrive at a new shore without having known we were on rough seas? During Betsy’s Artist’s Way tele-class while I was working on this book, we talked about finding the river. I love that metaphor of finding the river. We Earth travelers are all on a journey on the river of life, meandering, flowing over the rocks if we’re lucky, working through the obstructive branches, widening and narrowing in our ability to respond to the world and to be our best selves. We find our true selves as we go along, bit by bit, even as we change, the changes wrought in us becoming part of all the things going down that river with us. The bad stuff, if we go about it right, gets left behind. I’d been thinking about my own journey and my marriage, and then I arrived at home to find a pleasurably quiet empty house. I realized that I no longer felt judged and belittled—those were my feelings, and it was time to let them go. As I poured myself a glass of wine and made dinner and ate by myself, I knew that I had forgiven myself. The way I held up my own dinner on Paul’s late nights had been my way of continually trying to show him my worthiness. It wasn’t he who thought I was unworthy, it was me. And then I read this quote by Lauren King: “There are two kinds of perfect: The one you can never achieve, and the other, by just being yourself.” Funny, I had also come to the conclusion that I didn’t need to work on perfect moments but just had to experience them in my own authentic way. My life is full of perfect moments as long as I allow myself to be who I am. What is that perfection from within? I think it’s in the sweet moments of ease, the heartfelt conversations, the realization that we are not alone, the sense of community, and being present to God and the universe. How do we, as people living in this world, find perfection?
Italian writer Cesare Pavese advises us to travel light if we’re to travel far and fast. “Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears.” I’ll never arrive at the life I’ve always dreamed of if I don’t work through Pevase’s list. And neither will you. Reading his list, I know he’s right—we let really bad stuff get in our way. It’s not necessary to have perfect days, but it’s necessary to have a life without all those things that hold us back. Like a closet that needs cleaned out, our lives require de-cluttering so we can bring in the God connection, the eternal force within, the incarnation of Oneness, at true and real agape that transcends all we can know. To travel lightly, we need to let go of all the things we don’t need. We need to burn them or put them in a box or drown them in a river. The things that don’t serve us often work against us. To fight them, we find meaning by immersing in what we love, being empathetic, loving deeply, and letting go and letting God. If The Artist’s Way taught me all the ways I didn’t allow myself to fly, life took over and showed me a new path of lightness. What is it inside you that doesn’t allow you to fly? How can you travel lightly into your future?
Wayne Dyer is quoted as saying “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.” At the heart of an excellent life is recognizing its abundance. Taking an art class feels lavish and expansive. It makes me feel like I’m living abundantly. When I was working on the Artist’s Way chapter on abundance, I bought flowers for my desk at work. I paid attention to how the outside light came into the Terminal Tower. I felt like writing Morning Pages was a stolen moment before the family woke up. I gave myself permission to spend time on myself. Here I am at the end of 30 days and trying to figure out how I can get my Mom to journal, but my mission may not be her mission. Remember humility? Remember agape? I pull back from that idea, and try to listen to what she needs, but I ask you, as I’ve asked workshop participants, “If you could live four other lives, what would they be like? What’s the through line, the common thread that causes them to be your choices? How can you live your life more abundantly? Maybe you’ve already arrived at the life you always dreamed of.
To love deeply, we must forgive deeply, because to be human, we are only able to be human. As The Tao says, we must be kind to each other—that is the bigness of love, to be kind to everyone we know, even those who seem to despise us. Living in the moment, being present, humbly serving, seeking privacy—they all come down to loving self, others, and God in a deep Agape way. By being humble on Day 26, I let go of worries because no one was watching. Life became full of possibility, not full of responsibilities. I was feeling expansive. We feel compassion for the homeless, the soul-weary, the sinning adulterer and murdering maniac by understanding we all have very different voices and different scenery playing in the movie that runs through our consciousness. Their stories are our stories. Therein lies empathy. By not being so self-absorbed, I start to understand what motivates people. If I try to listen and understand, I’m loving, and, as Buddha said, “Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds.” All that is required of me is that I be there for others. Bottom line: love God and love others. The more I serve others, the more I’ll just be, the less my ego will be involved, the more God-centered I’ll be.