First, I have to say, I'M ON AN AIRPLANE... AND I'M ON THE INTERNET!
Perhaps I'm late ushering in the inter-web on the plane thing, but if you're willing to pay $12.95, and you happen to be stuck on a plane for 5 hours and 50 minutes with NO INFLIGHT MOVIES.... (I keep looking at the cabin ceiling, wondering when our complimentary in-flight tellies are going to miraculously lower down and I can finally watch Emma Stone's Easy A...) you'll pay the thirteen dollars. I mean, isn't our sanity worth at least that?
But now I'm eyeing my quickly depleting computer battery like it's the last Snickers in the bottom of the halloween bag. Three hours and fifteen minutes to go before landing. Battery survival? 45 minutes.
Anyhow, I wanted to write today, to remind myself as much as anyone else who may read this, about something important: "How about now?"
I'll explain. Because "How about now" has been on my mind a good deal over the past two months that I've been touring to talk about Faery Tale. And it's really helped me to maintain both a sense of peace of mind and of presence in an invaluable way.
I happen to have a fabulous therapist. Er, friend. Er, life coach. I really don't know what exactly to call him. But actually, I call him Shaman Jon, because that's his name. Shaman Jon is a very wise, loving, kind, expansive, and highly evolved spiritual fellow who often says things to me that have a way of sinking in and changing the way I think, feel, or behave in beautifully positive ways. We were talking about nervousness, anxiety, and displeasure -- you know the general sort of malaise that seeks us all out when we're least expecting it, and suddenly, pounces and before you know it, it's sunk its terrible claws into you and you're dragging your feet around the house all slumped over, thinking, "I am just filled to brimming with terrible malaise!!" Or some such thing. Well, Shaman Jon shared with me the secret of "How about now?"
He asked me to imagine that everything I had -- I mean, everything -- every material possession, every person I loved, even the roof over my head -- was taken away. I know! It's actually a really horrible, emotional and unpleasant thought. But I went there. I went to a place where I had somehow lost everything that once held meaning to me. I stood, in my imagination, on the beach. Imagined that even the tent I'd been sleeping in now was gone. I looked up at the sky, thankful, at least, for sunshine in this imaginary moment of mine. And then I allowed it to begin to rain.
It was just me, and the cold, miserable, pelting rain.
And the ocean.
So vast, so eternal. And then he asked me to consider. "How about now?"
In other words, will life go on? Am I okay? Am I still able to find a way to be okay, if everything external, even the people I love, have disappeared, and all I have is myself? I sat with that. Because this isn't about disregarding the people or things that you love, really. It's about being able to be okay, no matter what life brings you, with just you. Your own body, your own thoughts, your own ability to perceive the world, and the gift of your life, in a grateful and meaningful way.
Yes, I thought. I am okay. "How about now" has become a way to check in for me, when the trivial things in life begin to grate, when I find I'm getting annoyed or moody or feeling disconnected or stingy or any of those things that we don't like to admit we feel sometimes.
When the woman sitting behind you in the plane who keeps inadvertently kicking your seat. A lot. The man at the grocery store who just really feels the need to talk for a very long time about the weather, and the football game last night, and where the cashier's nephew goes to high school, and you have T-minus 20 seconds before company arrives at your house or you're going to be late for a meeting or your bladder is going to burst. These examples may or may not be taken from my own life.
So maybe I'm on a plane and I'm STARVING because all I've had to eat for dinner was a granola bar and a handful of trail mix, and I'm dehydrated and I left my water bottle on the connecting flight, the person behind me is kicking my seat, my neck hurts, this flight is the interminable flight from hell, I could practically be in London by the time we land, and I miss my husband and my house and my friends and my freakishly small black cat, and I've been home for only 2 weeks and now I'm back on the road again... and... "How about now?" Am I okay?
And I take score of the moment: I'm sitting aboard a plane to Seattle, where I will be able to be with my sister for her 33rd birthday. I'm a writer with a story that people have been moved by -- and what joy that I get to travel across the country to stand in Barnes & Noble tomorrow and talk about my journey.
Suddenly, "How about now" feels more okay. And my capacity to breathe and be myself and be a better human is, for the time being restored.
So there it is. My $13.00 gift to myself, and to you.
"How about now?"
I hope you'll have as many, if not more, blessings to count as 2011 shines on.