As a “recovering perfectionist,” I have to remind myself quite often that the goal is rarely flawless execution, but rather agility, authenticity and serenity in my life. Practice makes progress, indeed.
But damn, it’s hard to do. My brain is well-trained in rumination and future-tripping and getting to right now feels like taming a spastic monkey. But with practice, it becomes more natural.
I first encountered this notion of present moment awareness when a friend was bitching about how much he loathed Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. His couple’s therapist forced him to listen to it on CD and, then single, he was tossing them out. His descriptive complain-a-thon piqued my interest and I took the CDs off his hands, popped them in my car’s stereo, and became completely entranced by that little German guru who calmly opened with, “I have little use for the past and rarely think about it.”
“No use for the past?! But how can I properly punish those people and events that have wronged me if I’m not busy hating them for it?” That was my mindset. But I listened on because something about Eckhart’s words resonated on a level below my incredulity. My inner knower wanted to hear more.
Those who have not found their true wealth, which is the radiant joy of Being and the deep, unshakable peace that comes with it, are beggars, even if they have great material wealth. They are looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security, or love, while they have a treasure within that not only includes all those things but is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.
The notion that the present moment, the “radiant joy of Being,” has everything I need, every resource and happiness, was and is a magnificent realization. To me, Being is the only place I can connect with divine presence within me and around me, the only place where I find that “inner OK-ness” I’ve sought so many other ways in vain (men, money, shopping, alcohol, friendships, work, approval-seeking, family…). It’s my true treasure, available to me any time I pause, redirect my monkey brain, and commit to the present.
I recently decided–after ten short years of mulling it over–to get a tattoo. A BIG one. And within four days, I had found an artist, created a design, and was under the needle, so to speak.
I got a couple of small tattoos in my late teens/early 20s, one of which is so awesome that I plan to have it removed with my first tummy tuck. But for this artistic endeavor, my motto was GO BIG, OR GO HOME! (With the caveat from my friend Lisa, “But stay employable.”)
What is it? I’m not totally sure what I designed. I mean, obviously, it’s a bird. But it’s also in bloom, a thing of movement and beauty. It’s organic.
Perhaps it’s a peacock. There’s a story I love about peacocks eating thorns–those very things that are meant to wound–and from them they are nourished to grow their plumage. Spectacular beauty arriving from an unlikely and painful source: I like.
This could also be a phoenix, that mythical creature that plunges itself into fire every 1,000 years, only to be born again from the ashes to live anew. Like that, too.
The whole impetus for getting a big, badass tattoo was about honoring a wish I’d had for a decade and always dismissed as impractical and expensive. I don’t know what made me take action, except perhaps the desire to live big and be my most authentic self. And the most authentic Leah has a giant peacock-phoenix-flower design on her back. And she loves it.