By Lori Welch Brown
Little Flakes Everywhere
It can take a real effort not to be blue when the sun hasn’t shone it’s pretty face in days—which seems like weeks, by the way. So much tragedy and strife in the world. More crime. More sexual harassment charges. More political nonsense. I was having my own little mini meltdown recently. You know because my life is pretty close to perfect yet somehow I manage to find the rabbit hole to spiral down. Winter doldrums + world news + personal crisis = perfect storm for melt down. To illustrate how a typical (aka trivial) melt down can occur when monkey mind enters the picture, I present the following scenario that may/may not have happened to a friend: An unanswered text from her niece sent her monkey mind straight to “I’m going to die alone in a nursing home with no one to claim my corpse.” Yeah. Monkey mind can be an evil witch…
Hmmm. Wonder why she hasn’t responded to me. The younger generation is so busy—they don’t have time for aunts and uncles. They barely have time for their own parents. Their parents are so lucky to have such smart children. I should have had kids. I have no purpose in my life. Parents have purpose—and they are guaranteed companionship in their old age, not to mention a full house at Christmas. They may even end up living with their children at some point. I’ll have no place to go. If XXL dies before me, I’ll end up in a nursing home. Who will come to visit me? Not my nieces or nephews. I can’t even get them to answer a lousy text.
Ok. So the friend may or may not be yours truly. Of course, right after my monkey mind started driving the conversation, I knew I was in trouble so I went on Facebook to cheer myself up with some kitten pictures and what do I see? Two of my friends on trips with their daughters. FOMO! They are laughing, smiling, shopping, AND in a warmer climate. My life officially sucks. I have massively screwed everything up. I have no recourse; only regrets. Not only am I going to die alone in some roach-infested nursing home, but I have no daughters to guilt into traveling with me in the meantime. I have no younger, cooler version of myself to pass my fashion sense along to in exchange for explaining the ‘cloud’ to me. I have no young adult to mold and shape, who relies on me for maternal advice. Not one single person has ever called on me to ask what to do about a zit the morning of an interview or how to cure diarrhea. I have NO PURPOSE. My life has been one continuous hollow, meaningless path to “nowheresville”. What do I have to show for it beyond some wrinkles, chin hairs and a fabulous shoe collection? Zip. Zilch. Nada. Talk about a joy suck. This is why God invented yoga and meditation. Not necessarily to pull you out of the abyss and into the bliss, but to distract monkey mind by doing stuff beyond plotting your own lonely demise. I don’t often have the kid regret thing, but when I do, it is usually around selfish motives such as “who in the heck is going to pluck my chin hairs and wipe my drool?” This is likely the reason I don’t have children, btw. I am far too selfish.
Of course, after a few days of fretting, I go to text our dog sitter and what do I see staring back at me? A text from my niece sent three days ago responding back to me. Oops. And then, another niece sends me a ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ text. My heart lifts. The next day I get an unexpected card from a friend that gives my inner joy another little boost. The sun begins to shine. If the birds weren’t sunning themselves in Miami, they’d be chirping. Life starts to look a little brighter. A little better. It is these little gestures that flip the bird to monkey mind and help me get through the dark, dreary days of winter. They are magical little snowflakes of joy—the best kind of snowflakes—ones that don’t require shovels or salt.
The days start seeming a little longer, and it feels like we are starting to see the light at the end of the dark and dreary winter tunnel. Thanks to the little flakes of joy I start noticing more and more, monkey quiets down. Then the news of another mass shooting fills the air. I am nowhere physically near this trauma yet I feel it in my body. My heart weeps. I can’t focus. How do you find joy in what feels like hopelessness? As Brene’ Brown says in her recent book, Braving the Wilderness, you move in closer. You move in closer and you hold hands with strangers. You make connections. You stop thinking about what divides us and you remember what unites us, our human connection. You drop flakes of joy everywhere you can via a card, text, smile or hug. In the darkness, little flakes matter big time. Drop those f’ers all over and see where they fall.