Here's Where You Can Go ....
Go to Hell.
Look, you know I love you (or at least I hope you do now). I value everything you are and who you choose to be in this world. And because of that,
I want you to go to hell.
Not on board? Let me explain.
We spend a great deal of time chasing happiness in this life. We buy things, read things, do things, and watch things that make us feel good.
When we reach the pinnacles of these experiences, they feel like heaven, right? A warm night on the beach as the sun sets, a few minutes in silence as your child sleeps in your arms, the delight of eating something you just mixed with your new KitchenAid or the first sip of wine from the expensive bottle you brought home from your trip… Indulgences. Heavenly feelings.
And then - there are the other things. The long commutes, the endless meetings, the never-sleeping child, the noise at the restaurant and grocery store and everywhere and oh God it all feels like HELL.
And that, my dear friend, is where I want you to go.
Why? Because you’ve learned how to survive and thrive in pursuit of, and when in, heaven. But heaven doesn’t exist without hell, just as light doesn’t exist without dark.
And I want you to be well no matter where you find yourself.
If you are to ever find a sense of sustained well-being, you have to learn how to find a sense of stillness and “okayness” even in hell. Even when things feel like they are falling apart and your body aches all over and you would give anything to just fall asleep and not wake up until it is all over. Even then.
And the only way to do that is to go into these moments and practice there. That means you can’t shut off your practice when the person tailgates you in traffic. You can’t run away from the rude person in line and curse them later.
You can’t complain about + try to avoid life’s hardships and rough moments and try to cling to life’s happy moments if you want to find a sense of peace that will allow you to experience it all without losing your mind (which we all seem on the verge of doing these days).
Now, I’m not saying to buy a permanent residence in good old h - e - double hockey sticks. I’m just inviting you to stop trying to take every back road and side road to avoid crossing through it.
When you sense you are approaching hell again (the temper tantrum starts up, the boss or spouse sends the email titled, “we need to talk”, the pile of mail in your hand starts revealing one bill after the next), take a deep breath.
A full, deep breath.
And then acknowledge that you are choosing to go there. Acknowledge that it might totally suck, that it might hurt, that there might be some tears or angry words spoken.
But acknowledge that your best self is taking charge here, staying behind the wheel, and steering straight into this mess. And as you speed past that sign, “Welcome To Hell!”, take another deep breath and know that you are just passing through. Don’t try to ignore what is happening; rather, acknowledge the pain. Name it. Let it know that you see it, and you aren’t running away. It’s going to hurt and that is okay. (Easier said now than felt later. I know. I’ve visited there. But stay with me.)
Always return to your breath. It’s like the GPS guiding you through it all.
*Important note: If you are already in hell as you read this, I’m not encouraging you to go further in. Use that breath to find yourself back out to those happy side roads, meandering along a pasture filled with pretty ponies. Take this journey, do these practices, on your own time and in your own best knowing.
Ready? (*beep, beep*) Okay.
Go to hell. (I’ll see you there.)