...Or Manage My Expectations?
A friend had an Indian guru who was the embodiment of love, and the guru died. Bereft, my friend went back to India and stayed with the guru's principal disciple, and one day the disciple said, "Do you want to see the precious thing the guru left for me?" Then he pulled out something wrapped in an old Indian cloth and ceremoniously uncovered a beaten-up pot. He said, "Do you see?" My friend answered, "No. What are you trying to tell me?" And with a mad glint in his eye, the disciple said, "You don't have to shine!"
I have found that idea so helpful: You don't have to shine.
In my life, I've been lucky enough to befriend many spiritual teachers, and to see that they didn't shine either. They were normal people with normal problems. Of course you should try to make the biggest life possible, but be realistic. If everyone were perfect, we wouldn't be in the human realm. And we wouldn't be developing our hearts.
Mark Epstein, MD, is a psychiatrist and the author of The Trauma of Everyday Life
And What About My Thighs?
It's hard to find peace with your thighs, but when they chafe, try to be grateful for them. Your thighs let you run and get you where you want to go. I have not just thigh peace but thigh happiness, and it begins with thigh gratitude.
Comedienne Margaret Cho is currently touring with her stand-up show Mother.
How Do I Embrace Change?
Eight years ago, I was a novelist living in a comfortable suburban home. I had financial security and a husband. But my happily ever after wasn't turning out happily, and so I moved with my three children to a century-old farmhouse in West Virginia. I was ready to be challenged by the unknown.
And, boy, was I challenged.
I'd always dreamed of having a farm, but I soon realized I didn't know the difference between hay and straw. I'd never been close to a chicken, much less a cow. (A cow that would kick me, and the milk bucket, repeatedly.) There were many low points in the months to come, as I battled the woodstove that I couldn't light and chased my goats when they jumped the fences. But I was also living a life beyond my imagination, and no hardship was bigger than the satisfaction of finding the courage to live it. As a writer, I know change is part of the plot; that's how your character evolves. And with change, there is grief for what has been lost, but also opportunity—and the choice of how to see it. Choose wonderful.
Suzanne McMinn is the author of Chickens in the Road: An Adventure in Ordinary Splendor
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