A few months back I told my friend enthusiastically that I “might never actually retire.” I was referring to my teaching job. She thought I’d lost my mind. Never retire? For always, my ultimate goal had been to leave my day job so I could write full-time. A few days ago, with my lengthy summer vacation drawing to a close, she reminded me of my response—checking to see if sanity had returned. I love my time off, so I barely remembered saying such a thing. Never retire? What? So had I lost my mind when I said I might never stop teaching?
It dawned on me today just what happened! I’ve come to the place of “acceptance” as a way of life. Eckhart Tolle says, “Acceptance means: For now, this is what this situation, this moment, requires me to do, and so I do it willingly.” He goes on to say:
“When you make the present moment, instead of past and future, the focal point of your life, your ability to enjoy what you do—and with it the quality of your life—increases dramatically. … The ‘waiting to start living’ syndrome is one of the most common delusions of the unconscious state. Expansion and positive change on the outer level is much more likely to come into your life if you can enjoy what you are doing already. … Joy does not come from what you do, it flows into what you do and thus into this world from deep within you.”
So my response had everything to do with fully accepting the here and now, the present. Without even realizing it, I had lost the low-grade frustration and discontent that used to crop up randomly and frequently. I finally embraced the notion that a happy life is not something that’s waiting up ahead for us once all our conditions are satisfied. We often think that once we make more money, get rid of that extra twenty pounds, get a new job, get into a relationship, get the kids raised, fix the roof, get that wart removed, retire, or whatever, then we will finally be happy.
People can feel depressed, anxious, disappointed, and chronically frustrated because the present state isn’t living up to the ideas they have about themselves and their lives. Since (as I so often say) life is a journey, it behooves us to keep our dreams and goals alive, but know in our hearts that our lives are here and now. If you died tomorrow, you will have died waiting to get to “happy.”
I’ll quote Eckhart one last time:
“Don’t ask your mind for permission to enjoy what you do. All you will get is plenty of reasons why you can’t enjoy it. ‘Not now,’ the mind will say. ‘Can’t you see I’m busy? There’s no time. Maybe tomorrow you can start enjoying...’ That tomorrow will never come unless you begin enjoying what you are doing now.”
So even though this is the last official day of my summer vacation, my soul is very happy because right here and now I’m drinking coffee and blogging in my pajamas.