Posts Tagged 'life'

Life is Messy

wild_messy_everything

Every day when I wake up, I hope for a day filled with light. And every day I go to sleep looking back on a day that was really a mixed bag. My days are filled with Everything—one minute I’m sitting at work completely annoyed by a project that’s becoming tedious and frustrating, the next minute I’m riding my bike home and right there trotting down the path is a coyote. Thirty minutes later, the coyote just a picture in my mind, I’m at home beginning to think about what I’ll have for dinner.

This is real life. It’s nothing like the movies in my head or the movies in the theater. Sometimes it’s boring, crazy, sad, frustrating, awesome, heart-warming, painful. Sometimes I cry, laugh, scream, or sit quietly taking it all in. It’s a jumble of everything, and you never know what’s coming next. Maybe you have a general idea which direction you’re heading, but do you really know what your life will be like next year, next month, or even next week?

I find this hard to accept sometimes—I want to nail things down. I want to pin my future to a board like a moth so I can see what it looks like still, instead of always fluttering out there ahead of me, barely visible in its constant motion. I want every day to be full of light and ease and time well spent—days I can look back on and say, “yes, I really lived the life I meant to live.”

But then the wild beast of reality saunters in and dashes my plans for perfect lightness. It challenges me, pushes my buttons, and in general asks me to wake up from my fantasies of a perfect life and live what’s really happening, live in the raw truth. And the truth is: life is not any one thing—it is everything. It is messy. It is wild. It is all over the place. Some moments are easy, some are really hard. Sometimes you feel like the air, other times you feel like darkness.

In moments of understanding, I can see the richness of this. I can see how the darkness creates deep warmth in me when I look at it with kindness. And that life is just one big rollicking adventure when I let it be. But much of the time I’m just tangled up in the whole mess trying to understand which way is up and which way is down.

And maybe that’s OK. Maybe it’s just the process of life to keep getting lost and found, again and again. Maybe this is the only way to understand that we can never really grasp life. We are a part of life, we are riding the waves of life. Life is sailing through us for the one little flicker of our one little life, but it’s so much bigger and wilder than us. So, of course it’s messy and unmanageable, and we can’t control it. Trying to control life is like trying to control the wind. You just can’t do it.

There is peace in this fact when you can feel it deeply. If you can’t control life, then you don’t have to even try. You can just sit back and enjoy the ride. However hard it may sound to let go of trying, I’m beginning to find that it may be harder to live your whole life trying to get control of something that’s uncontrollable. So, everyday I try and remember to pry my fingers off the steering wheel and see what happens. Sometimes my life opens up wide in front of me. Other times, I spend most of the day slowly lifting each finger, and when I’m finally hands-free, I clutch the wheel again and start the process over. This is reality. This is life. This is the big teacher. Lost and found, again and again.

Giving Thanks for Another Year of Wild Life

aug_2011_clouds

Hello! Hello! It’s been a while since I last posted! Over two months, which goes down in my record book as the longest I’ve ever been away from this blog since I started it back some years ago.

I’ve been taking some time to contemplate life quietly away from the internets. But today, walking home from the store (bottle of champagne in my bag), on this last day of 2012, I started thinking about all of the things I have to be thankful for from this year. And then I wanted to come and share them with you to say my thanks out into the universe and maybe spark some thankful reflections for whoever might drop by. So, here it goes . . .

~

I am thankful for another year of being alive. I do not say this lightly because more and more I am always thinking about how miraculous it is to keep breathing and keep waking up to the fact of my life. Here I am right now. Life keeps moving on.

I am thankful for my crazy, passionate, full-of-life family. Sometimes they drive me nuts, and I am thankful for that because it means that we love each other enough to keep showing up in each other’s lives and giving what we have to give, as best we can.

I am thankful for the 6+ years of dog-love my husband and I shared with our pup Lance. He died quite suddenly in October of a heart problem, and every day I am thankful to have shared my life with such a happy-go-lucky beast. Last spring when I was feeling so confused about my life, I took many long walks in the sun with him. At the time I didn’t know he wouldn’t make it to another spring. I am so thankful for that time.

I am thankful to live in a beautiful natural area. Every day I walk out into the big wide open space behind my house full of birds and plants and dogs, and sometimes even cows, and I am pulled out of my small self and reminded I’m a part of this larger world. In the winter, an enormous flock of geese takes up residence on the little lake nearby, and I love hearing their squawking and watching them come swooping in for a water landing in a big flutter.

I am thankful for the public library. It has been another year of my typical wide dabbling. I have surely checked out more than 100 books over the course of the year on topics as varied as cheesemaking, buddhism, hiking, poetry, the history of books and German language. Thank you public library for making my wide, whimsical interests and research possible FOR FREE!

I am thankful for cooking and baking and, of course eating. It’s never truly a bad day when there’s the chance to bake some chocolate chip cookies, eating cookie dough all the while, and then enjoy a warm cookie (or two) after dinner. And of course, the fact that I get to cook and eat dinner every day is what reminds me that everything is going to be OK.

I am thankful for art. It truly never goes away – even when I’m doubting the creative process and confused about where I’m going with my creative pursuits. All I have to do is stop and open a space for it, and the creative mojo comes flowing back in.

I am thankful for finding a way through the confusion about my life path that began last January. Through this confusion, I have been learning the lessons I have needed to learn for a long time. Lessons that I can feel opening me up to a wide, deep understanding that will inform the rest of my life.

I am thankful for the great possibilities of another year out in front of me. Who knows what will happen, and that is a beautiful thing.

Happy, Happy New Year to you!

The One Practice

I consume a lot of information about how to live a better/happier/calmer/more fulfilling life. I read books, listen to podcasts, read blogs, watch interviews, read magazines, and watch videos about everything from happiness to meditation to creating the life you want. In all of this consuming, I often get caught up in this practice and that practice, this new idea and that transcendent philosophy. This frequently leads to me trying to follow a million philosophies at once (head spinning) and/or desperately chasing whatever new idea comes along in an attempt to finally find THE KEY to being peaceful and happy all the time.

After trying the one million philosophies (and every time I pick up a new book, I still keep trying them—old habits die hard), I have begun to realize that there is one practice that cuts through everything. With this practice, you do not have to try to be: good, happy, virtuous, loving, peaceful. You just have to be with yourself how you are right now. The practice is: kind awareness.

I’m betting that you have probably heard of awareness. It is a very old practice—one of the core practices in Buddhism, which is where I learned about it and started practicing it. Awareness just means to be present to what’s happening, to take a deep breath and look into your current experience. I use the word “kind” in front of awareness to overemphasize the fact that awareness is not judgment, it is kind attention. This doesn’t mean you must force yourself to be kind, the kindness (or just a simple warmth) is inherent in awareness—when you look with curiosity at anything, there is a warm interest to it.

Maybe this just sounds like one more practice to try and force yourself to do. But here’s why I think it’s the practice that cuts through all other practices: when you are kindly aware of whatever is going on inside and outside of you right now, all of the other things come along on their own (happiness, calm, understanding, love, generosity). And on the flip-side, when you’re being kindly aware, it doesn’t matter so much if you’re happy or angry because you’re not judging how you feel, you’re just being aware of it. It’s like taking one step back, creating a bit of space (as if you’re standing in a supermarket watching someone else’s child throw a tantrum. You see it happening, and you feel compassion for the parent and the child, but you don’t get caught up in it. You keep on moving through your day).

Kind awareness simplifies things for me. It occurs to me every day, over and over again, that if I just put my effort into being aware, then everything else will take care of itself. This is often harder to do than I would like it to be. It’s not a flashy easy quick-fix, but then, really, it is. The moment you come back into awareness, there you are. The peace of it opens up. Even if you’re angry, you can begin to find some humor in it, or at least a bit of stillness.

To practice kind awareness, you do not have to spend hours meditating. All you have to do is take one moment, take a deep breath and turn your attention to what’s going on right here, right now. Watch the thoughts spinning in your head, feel how you feel. Let it be OK. Let it be just your experience.

I also like to remember that it’s called a “practice” for a reason—because we’re just practicing. There is no “fail.” There is just the continual honest attempt to return to awareness.

There are many people out there that talk about awareness (also referred to as “mindfulness”) much more profoundly than I do; Jack Kornfield, Pema Chodron, and Thich Nhat Hanh, to name a few big ones. If you check out any book written by one of these wonderful teachers, you will be sure to find awareness laced through and through.

Love Does That

Earlier this week I got talking to one of my coworkers about poetry, and she passed along to me this poem below. Reading it again this morning it occurred to me that all my life so far (except perhaps when I was a tiny baby) I have been the burro, and oh how much I want to start being the monk instead. Enjoy.

~
Love Does That
by Meister Eckhart

All day long a little burro labors, sometimes
with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries
about things that bother only
burros.

And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting
than physical labor.

Once in a while a kind monk comes
to her stable and brings
a pear, but more
than that,

he looks into the burro’s eyes and touches her ears

and for a few seconds the burro is free
and even seems to laugh,

because love does
that.

Love frees.
~

{from Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West translated by Daniel Ladinsky}

What You Really Want

What you really want is
not the big-time job
not the overflowing bank account
not the perfect and loving partner,
not even the trip to Paris.

What you really want is
to wake up every day
and feel like light itself,
and then to go about your day
beaming.

Do not worry if this sounds
too transcendent.
In fact it is the humblest practice;
to sit in the day breathing,
simply being the animal that you are.

{I scribbled these words in my sketchbook some weeks ago and just re-discovered them. I wanted to share them here because they’re something I think about a lot and thought you might too}

Everything Flows

{This is a drawing I made a while ago that seemed particularly perfect for this post. It’s called “Like a River”}

If there’s one thing that’s true in life, it is that everything changes. Everything flows, moves, and transforms, always. We know this inherently; we start out in our mother’s stomachs as just a bunch of cells dividing, and then we become a baby, and then a toddler. And we grow every year, change every year. Even when we’re adults and the change is not quite as apparent, we are changing every minute. And yet, why is it still so surprising sometimes?

I’ve been thinking a lot about my creative life lately. Really when have I not, but this past several months have been different. The artist’s life that I thought was my bedrock has turned out to be just as changeable as everything else. This has surprised me more than I can say. I sometimes wonder if this is a cosmic lesson—life is trying to teach me that nothing is solid, there’s nothing to hold onto. It is a hard lesson to learn when it messes with something so dear. And perhaps that’s the only way we will ever learn the most important lessons—to have the most seemingly solid thing in our lives be uprooted and shaken into the high winds.

And when this happens, it becomes clear how much we have been identifying ourselves by the thing that we were holding onto so tightly. For the past 5 years I have been “artist.” I liked the sound of it. I liked knowing who I was. Even on a bad day, I could come back to this definition and feel solace in it.

What happens when you’re not sure if that’s really who you are anymore? That thing that you’ve defined yourself by for so long.

It hurts is what happens. And it’s scary. Right now I’m scared because I’m not sure what it all means. And I’m sad because I’m afraid of losing this thing that I have loved.

I’m still making things; I draw, I write, I take pictures. I sit at my art desk with all of my artist things around me. I am not throwing away my pens or deleting all of the scans of my drawings. But something has changed, and I just don’t know where I’m headed now.

As true as it is that everything changes, I also do believe that everything flows where it needs to flow. This does not make it any easier, or less sad or scary. But it does give me some hope.

Five years ago, I could never have guessed where I would come through with my art because it has been such a flow. Such a rollicking stream flowing into all of the corners, sharp and smooth, that I would never have seen if I hadn’t gone along for the ride. I am so thankful for that. Deeply thankful.

And now I have to trust that wherever I am going next will be just as natural and beautiful and wild as this ride has been so far, whether there’s more art in it or not. If I can trust that and flow with it, there will be no other place to go but into the wide stream of a full adventurous life. And hasn’t that been the point all along?

Radical Generosity

I woke up this morning, and the same old band was playing (the really loud obnoxious one that has songs about all of my failures). My husband’s off from work because it’s Memorial Day, but I hadn’t quite decided if I would work or take the day off, and this indecision was grating on me. I stood in the bathroom brushing my teeth, and some awkward painful memories from college flashed into my head—me being someone I didn’t want to be. It’s been more than 9 years since these things happened, and they still have the power to make me cringe. I was on the verge of cringing when it occured to me: I will never see any of those people again, and that’s not who I am right now. Quite by surprise I was able to let the thoughts go and move on.

This little win reminded me of something I had thought about days earlier; the idea of radical generosity. You see, we’re kind of like mules—we walk around loaded down with all of our baggage: memories of how we’ve been, things people have said to us, how we’ve perceived ourselves, the things we think we can and cannot do. We carry baggage for other people too: we carry along our memories of how other people have wronged us, irritated us, and generally acted how we wish they wouldn’t. Everyday we walk around carrying all of this, using this baggage as the starting point for how we interact with and react to everything that happens. This baggage comes to us through our thoughts. Sometimes we’re aware of them, a lot of the time they’re bobbing around just at or under the surface of our awareness. And then something happens and the whole weight of all that baggage becomes almost too much to bear and we react, often becoming the person we don’t want to be.

This is where the idea of radical generosity comes in. Imagine a moment when normally you would have let some thought of how things had turned out previously (badly) rule you, so much so that you would have started out anticipating problems and feeling angry and irritated. Now imagine approaching the same situation and assuming nothing; about how you will act, about how things will go, about how other people will act. You wipe the slate clean and allow the situation to be completely new. This is radical generosity.

It is radical because when do we ever do this? It is generous because the most generous thing you can do is give yourself and other people the benefit of the doubt. By not anticipating that things will go badly, you are opening up to the possibility that they could be marvelous. And really you’re so open that even if they did turn out in a way you don’t love, it still wouldn’t be the same because you’re in a different place.

This concept sounds like it would most obviously benefit interactions with other people, but I think it is truly revolutionary when you apply it to yourself. What if you didn’t have to beat yourself up about the times when you acted badly? What if you didn’t expect yourself to act a certain way? What if you could be whoever you want in this moment and the next? It is incredibly radical to allow yourself this freedom, and incredibly generous. in the moments when I really give myself this wide open possibility; my life is changed, I am new, and everything is beautiful. Could it be the key to peace? I think so. That is a beautiful thing.


Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Some Thoughts

"Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring."
~Rumi

{from "Joy at Sudden Disappointment"
translated by C. Barks.}

~This Work ~

Unless otherwise noted, all images and writings on this blog were created by me, Nicole K. Docimo aka Blue Bicicletta. If you would like to share anything you see here for inspirational purposes online, I just ask that you kindly let folks know where you found it. If you are wanting to share/reproduce any of my work in any other way, or have any questions about how you will be sharing the work in relation to copyright, please contact me directly at nkdocimo {at} gmail {dot} com. Thanks!

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