Appreciating This Life! - by Tom Wells

Just being a human being, what is it to have a good time? 

Why did I come into this human body anyway? What am I doing here everyday? If I'm not having a good time, then I certainly want to be headed toward having a good time! I certainly want to be reconciling anything that's keeping me from having a good time, and letting go of any resistance or fear or anger or suffering of any sort that might be keeping me from having the life I really want to have… living full out… living life OUT LOUD!

I love the idea of living life OUT LOUD!  Being able to proclaim how awesome it is to be here! I guess in a way that's what my whole life has been about… slowly, over the decades, removing all the obstacles I have erected that may have blocked my appreciation of how cool it is to be in this body, to be alive.

I’ve tried to do that, no matter what age, and it seems to be a bit more challenging as I’ve gotten older. On second thought I guess it's been challenging on and off through my life to admit just how good things really are. Except when I was a kid… it was pretty easy then. I've got to say I had a really good time, not so great when school was in, but boy, when school was out, I was having fun pretty much 99 percent of the time!

Appreciation seems to lie at the heart of not only giving value to my time alone, but in valuing my relationship to others as well.  When I truly find things to appreciate in other people, and be in a sort of awe and open wondering about who they are, and what they're up to, and how they're shaping their unique reality.

I remember when I learned that if you want to have a truly successful relationship with your life partner, pay attention to how they mind map their reality. How do they put together their whole life experience? What's their map of reality? And if you can understand that a little bit better as time goes on, you learn to get along with that person a lot better because you begin to understand why they make the choices they make, why they say the things they say and do the things they do.

Of course I would like it to be easy and simple to understand myself and other people. I think that the more that I have deep appreciation of who I am, the more I can appreciate others. The root of so much that makes life worth living, is self-love. It's actually something that kind of alluded me for a long time. I always assumed I had a lot of self-love but when I really look at how I've acted towards myself for a lot of my life, I can see how I demonstrated a lack of self-respect for who I really am, sort of a lack of enthusiasm for my own awesomeness. I can remember sometimes thinking of myself as kind of a loser, not quite adding up to the high expectation I had of myself.

I love the fact that all of that's changing. I'm realizing that at the heart of everything I experience in my life lies my own self-worth. I can't be with other people, I can’t even be in the middle of the woods camping alone by myself, without a strong sense of self-worth, if I expect to have a really good time. After all, all my experiences are coming through me, and if at the core of my being, I'm not looking out through eyes of ease, and love, and pleasure, and kindness, and happiness, happiness to be who I am, pleasure to be who I am, ease and relaxation about who I am… if I'm not coming from that place, it's hard to appreciate the beauty of the forest, the beauty of the clouds, the rock formations, the rivers and streams.

I love that I'm learning to appreciate more and more every day who I am, who you are, the beauty of this natural world, what this life is, what an amazing gift it is.  A lot of that comes from just constantly noticing what I'm thankful for. As much as I can, just noticing how good things really are.

Can you imagine how this world might be if most of us were spending our time just noticing how good things really are? I think a lot of things might get better, because we would bring that vibration of appreciation to everything! 

I'm reminded of a friend of mine who so impresses me, because she has this uncanny ability to find good in everything. That's all she’ll talk about! She loves to talk about how GREAT things are! Oh, she might occasionally mention about a bit of a struggle she's going through, but she doesn't linger there, she gets right on to what's good about the situation, and how GREAT things are, always finding things to appreciate no matter what!

I love being around someone like that… pointing out how beautiful the flowers are, how lovely the yard is…” Come and see my amazing zucchini plant!”…” Isn't our new puppy just so,soooo adorable?!”…” Oh my god, we had soooo much fun today!”  That kind of an attitude is so refreshing for me. 

Sometimes I've noticed in my life how I had this way of sort of downplaying things, kind of turning things to some shade of gray. You may remember the Rolling Stones song, “Paint It Black”.  The gist of the song was that no matter what the guy would see, he would always paint it black, cover it in darkness, take the light out of it. So unnecessary!

Maybe a lot of us have had periods of our lives where are we have done that. I certainly have.  Maybe from our depression, our sadness, our despair, our cynicism.  But I can see how I'm learning not to do that. As I learn to appreciate and notice all that I'm grateful for, and to expand my capacity to love my self more and more, I literally notice colors coming alive all around me, and it's so beautiful, and so exhilarating, that the last thing I would want to do is ever “Paint It Black”.

The Water Is Wide - by Tom Wells

Now we come down to the shore of the vast ocean that is our potential, that is all we have longed for, for lifetimes perhaps.  Remember the old song, “The water is wide...I can’t cross over...” ?

The water is wide, I can't cross over, and neither have I wings to fly. Build me a boat that can carry two and both shall row, my love and I.
There is a ship and she sails the sea. She's loaded deep, as deep can be. But not so deep as the love I'm in, I know not how I sink or swim.
Oh love is handsome and love is fine, the sweetest flower when first it's new. But love grows old and waxes cold and fades away like Summer dew.
Build me a boat that can carry two and both shall row, my love and I, And both shall row, my love and I.  
                                                                                                                  James Taylor

That feeling of reaching an impasse in my life, a challenge to move beyond the limitations of the very essence of who I have believed myself to be, a seemingly mighty expanse that I need to traverse.  I want to get to the other side, but where are my wings?  I have dreamed and hoped and prayed for wings to fly, yet I still stand on this shore, unable to comprehend this crossing over.

So I call upon my Self, I call upon my Ancestors, my Source, to build me a boat, that I might sail, endeavoring to carry all my sweet and precious longings and hopes for myself to the distant shore where lies the land of milk and honey, the fulfillment of these deep desires, this quenching of an inner thirst I have felt for so long.  Perhaps these wonderful loves of mine have grown cold and grown old, and no longer seem to have the beauty and freshness that once so inspired me to embrace them so passionately.  Yet I cannot abandon them, these dreams that have so shaped my searching and striving to finally feel complete.

Thankfully and amazingly, I feel in my heart that my love is so up to the task of carrying the precious cargo of my long and hopeful life toward that dream of a joyful fulfillment.  I somehow know that my love is even more vast than this seemingly endless ocean and the heavy load of all that I long for, and have ever longed for.  I know not how I live or die, I only know that together with my love, in that deepest regard and respect I have for my eternal Soul, for who I really am, I can row for that other shore, despite all odds.

Together, we “both shall row, my love and I.”