Yesterday I spent the day gently, most of it, on mindful service to the small creatures in my life. I spent hours on aquatic gardening: doing a water change in my community tank, some pruning, planting, tidying things up, acclimating the new tetras that have been in quarantine, and generally spending the larger part of the day with the fish.  It was soothing and serene, and I definitely needed to support my inner stillness after a morning of unexpected turmoil.  Tending the aquarium was a good choice to get back on track and feeling calm and balanced.

The secret life of shrimp.

The secret life of shrimp.

It was a moment of shared humor to find myself discussing the aqua gardening, and commenting that I doubted there were any shrimp surviving, since I simply never see them…I gestured to the tank and…there’s a shrimp, right up front! LOL I took a moment to snap a picture, because I wanted to be sure later that I didn’t doubt my recollection of having seen him. 😀  All that cleaning and moving things around must have disturbed any shrimp in the community. I found several more lurking quietly in the Java fern. 🙂

What made yesterday sort itself out in such a wonderful way wasn’t heartfelt apologies, or emotional ‘laying down of arms’, or occupying time in spaces away from conflict, although those things generally help.  For me, it was more about taking time to be deeply engaged in a favored activity, a needful task of some complexity, that I gave my entire attention to for a while to a ‘greater good’. Mindful service. In this case, mindful service to my own needs, and my aquarium. Simple gardening on some level, and gardening is something I know puts my heart and head right, when I take the time to allow it, to pursue it, and to invest in the good in it.  (Experience tells me I could pay lip service to the idea of ‘mindful service’ and just go through some motions, and perform tasks to completion, while investing in being hurt and angry, and get nothing in return but a sense of futility and resentment – will and intent matter; results also require action.)

The day was a good one, morning challenges passed quickly, comfortably, and were quickly forgotten. That’s more progress, and it feels like something I can begin to count on. 🙂  I admittedly enjoy tallying up the improvements in emotional resilience, reductions in volatility, new tools, new skills, new experiences of living in a general state of contentment, and comfort within myself…it’s been a year (368 days) since my sense of self began to unravel in a terrible way, a process that took weeks, consumed the holiday experience, and ultimately found me as only a shell of myself, considering choosing to end my own life… What a difference a year can make!  I don’t discuss those dark days in any detail with people, even people I love very much; too much pain to share, too few words to express it without sharing the pain more than the understanding. I feel hopeful that those days are well behind me now, and nothing more than a memory.

The mindfulness thing was the key. Still is. There are so many times I wish I could convincingly say “no, really, try this“, to friends and loved ones with their own challenges, their own suffering… but generally, as with my own experience in my own life, there is a state of readiness needed to even hear the suggestion in a usable way. I was once someone willing to say, with conviction and based on my own experience, that I had ‘tried meditation and it didn’t do anything for me’.  “I tried meditation…” No, no I had not. Not like this. I had always been focused on focus, focused on concentration, focused on clarity – focused on thought. I did not understand ‘awareness’, ‘stillness’, or observation. I did not understand the importance of breathing. I’m not sure what I ‘understand’ now…but I practice. 🙂  It is enough.

A lot more is ‘enough’, now. I hope to more deeply explore ‘sufficiency’ in 2014, to be more deeply and mindfully in service to home, hearth, and to myself, to ask more questions, and be more comfortable with uncertainty, to continue my studies of life and love, and to connect more deeply and more intimately with my loves, with my friends, with my family. I’ll get started today – it’s a lovely day to change the world.