Last night I was attempting to explain to my 10-year-old daughter that anxiety can come from believing something that’s not true.
“Our brains don’t know the difference between what’s real and what’s not real,” I said. I was about to launch into a sure-to-be-cumbersome definition of perception and reality, when she said:
“Right, because the mind and the brain are two separate things. The brain is physical and the mind is spiritual. If your mind thinks that something is real, then your brain and your body will act according to what you think.”
Whoa. I just got schooled.
It’s 5:23 a.m. on a Sunday and I am awake. I reach for my phone. There is no text from my 13-year-old son, who is in China, and my brain jumps straight to the conclusion that he must have gotten lost in a crowded Beijing market. In the pale light of dawn, this thought seems as plausible as any other.
In the space of 24 hours, my three children have been on three separate airplanes. My predominant summer anxiety has always been around how to keep them all busy. This summer they are suddenly off to see the world—my 15-year-old son to a camp in California, my 10-year-old daughter to visit family in New York, and my middle child with his father on the other side of the world. Having them in the air has me feeling ungrounded. To counteract my restlessness, I get up and go into practical mode. I text my ex-husband to make sure Boone has the hotel address in his pocket. I transfer a little money to Lincoln’s debit card for airport food. I text Genevieve a reminder to take her digestive supplements.
A few days ago, my friend Mark was feeling depressed and decided to stop at Trader Joe’s and buy himself some flowers. When he told the woman at the check-out why he needed flowers, she insisted on buying them for him.
Random act of kindness? Sure.
But it’s also a reminder that asking begins as an inner dialogue. Mark asked himself, “What do I need to feel more loved and supported today?”
It was wonderful to hear Marianne Williamson speak at Unity in Chicago! She talked about becoming disciples of love, and about being disciplined in the practice of asking
“Am I acting from love or fear?”
It’s the only true question, the one beneath all others!
A couple of weeks ago my neighbor helped me hang a bird feeder right outside my sun room window. This is where I spend most of my day, and I was excited about getting such a close view of the birds. I pictured sparrows and finches—dainty little things with soft colors and timid tweets. And for the first two weeks, that’s what I got.
Until yesterday, when this big black ominous-looking bird with an iridescent blue head came swooping in, landing so forcefully on the feeder that it thumped loudly against the house. He sat there for a long time, laying claim to the suet, and when he flew away it was only to the nearby tree, where he perched most of the day.
He made me uneasy, although I’m not sure why. He’s just a bird, eating at a bird feeder. I got what I wanted, but it didn’t look like I’d expected.
I want to share a pet peeve of mine: when I listen to people call in to one of my favorite radio hosts, so many of them say, “I have a question for you,” or “Here’s my question…” and then they don’t ask a question! They tell a story.
Maybe there’s something slippery about the curvy question mark. Either we put it on the end of what should be statements, or we leave it out altogether and tell ourselves we’re being clear in our requests.
A friend shared recently that he was upset about having to clear his belongings out of his basement to make room for his wife’s things.
“Did you ask her to consider a different solution?” I said.
“Well, I told her that I was upset,” he answered.
You know those scenes in action movies where the hero rolls under the gigantic steel door just before it slams shut? That’s how I’m getting this April blog in….just under the wire. And not because I’ve been out saving the world. More like I’ve been saving myself. From what or for what has been unclear. So unclear that the only theme I considered for April was THE UNKNOWN. But since the unknown makes me uncomfortable, I scrapped that idea.