I’ve been collecting treasures for several years. I’m not referring to physical treasures. (Though I do that too. I call it “collecting.” Some other people call it “shopping.” And my husband calls it “WHY DO WE NEED MORE BOWLS??” because I really like bowls.)
The treasures I’m talking about are the small comforts that bring me peace and inspiration in both my daily life and in those times I’m seek something “other” – something beyond my normal.
In my early 20s, I was too chaotic to notice what brought me peace. I was a whirlwind of naiveté and narcissism – I thought nothing and everything was about me, all at the same time. I loved and hated myself and others, ever not knowing how I really felt or thought. I was distracted by how much I thought I knew to really learn the things I needed to know. And my eyes were too full of stars and tears (many of my own making) to see anything, even what was right in front of me or inside of me.
I am slow to learn these things. So beautifully, painfully slow. And when I finally learn something, I learn it good. The things in me are rooted deep – both the good and the bad.
Over the past several years I have spent time tending to those roots. Weeding out the bad so the good can flourish. Sometimes they are so intertwined, the good and the bad, so entangled that it seems they cannot live without each other. But that’s all part of it. Replacing the bad with good so the good can become even better, freed from the chokehold of rot and death. It takes a lifetime and more.
I am at my weakest when I am “overwhelmed” and I am easily overwhelmed. That is when everything bad inside me becomes stronger and takes over. But I have learned that there are things I can do to help myself when I feel that way, things that will ease the internal pressure. Even in this, though, there is a struggle for good. There are wise things and unwise things I can do to relieve this pressure. The unwise things starve and malnourish the parts of me I most want to grow, while easing the pain of the “bad” enough that I feel the shifty goodness of pleasure for a few hours at a time.
It is exhausting, my friends. Pain with shocking jolts of pleasure. There is no steadiness, no peace in that.
The wise things are slow and strong. They are not so much pleasurable as they are just plain pleasant once my mind is calm enough to accept them.
1. Beauty. Nothing – absolutely nothing – is as calming to me as being near the ocean.
2. Giving. Thinking about someone that is not myself brings me perspective.
3. Creating. This can be a thinking outward or an expression of what is inside.
4. Walking. When I’m overwhelmed, my mind is immobilized. Moving my body can help me shake my thoughts free.
5. Talking. Verbalizing what I’m feeling takes away the secret power of my thoughts.
6. Quiet. The most difficult of all. Sitting with my own thoughts and overcoming them with stillness. It is a kind of mastery. This is usually my last resort but should be my first.
These are my treasures. I still don’t understand them as well as I should, and maybe there are even more to be discovered. But this is what I have now and what I will cherish with all my heart.