Once, when I was about ten, I recall walking through the woods with my family in Oklahoma at a place called Martin Nature Center. I don’t know what I said to have warranted this response, but I remember my mother saying to me, “You’re such a worry wart.” And then she told me to stop worrying.
Had my mother just likened me to a wart? I pondered this, traipsing over the leaves, stepping over a log.
“Mom? Did you just call me a wart?”
“A worry wart, Honey,” she said. “Haven’t you ever heard of that?”
I hadn’t and while I pretended I wasn't, on the inside I was terribly upset over this — the part about not having heard of this (was it something I should haven known by age ten?) and also the part about how she was acting like calling her daughter a wart was no big deal. She went on to explain that a worry wart was someone who worried a lot. Other than realize it was nothing to be offended over, I don’t really remember anything else about that day or even how the conversation ensued, which is good enough an excuse to stop here. Because if I write about worry then I’m not writing about lightness of being. Which is what I’m supposed to be writing about.
When Dulcie asked me to write on the topic of lightness of being I just stopped. I stopped talking, I stopped thinking and she must have noticed because she said, “Does that...mean anything to you? Or does that not feel like a real thing?” I didn’t know. And that’s why I said yes, okay, I think I can write about that.
I do not feel an incredible amount of lightness of being in my being. That’s on most days. Most days, deep down, I worry. In fact, full disclosure: I seriously probably worry to some degree about everything. You name it: I’m either currently worrying about it, have just recently worried about it or am about to worry about it. I do not know if this is a recent trait I’ve picked up or if this is a habit I’ve held my entire life. Or just ever since Martin Nature Center. It’s no surprise though that this, too, causes me great concern.
Recently after being gone for a few days, I walked into my second floor London flat. As I threw my keys onto the kitchen counter my fruit bowl caught my eye. Or rather, its contents. Along with some very old clementine cuties, there sat a rather plain, medium-sized avocado. I can’t tell you why, but this filled me with relief. However, I did not recognize the feeling of relief right away. It took me a few moments. I had to kick off my shoes and crack the bedroom window before I came back around to thinking about that avocado.
Bear with me because, I know. It feels crazy to talk about like this -- it’s minuscule, so minor it’s almost meaningless. And it would have been, had I not noticed my feeling of relief. But all I can tell you is that seeing that boring ol’ avocado was a consolation. Like, Oh phew, an avocado. I won’t go hungry. I don’t have to go to the store. Afterall, one can do a lot with an avocado.
Is this lightness of being? Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe this all I get for this one day. Maybe you're reading this and you think, wow, she needs to be medicated.
So what is ‘lightness of being,’ anyway? Dear Dulcie, I honestly don't know if this is a 'real thing' or not. And if it is, when and how do I (or anyone) experience it? I'm doing my best to determine all the above.
I have this friend who has five kids. FIVE. Seriously, five kids. She even has the wherewithal to snap a photo of her crew, ten legs dangling out of the cart, while at Target. She posts it on Facebook and I see it’s true: she’s actually having fun. I haven’t seen her in ages. Since before she’s had five kids. I wondered, as I stared at the photo of her beautiful children, if she ever wakes up in the morning like I do asking, “Is this really my life?” And, “How did I get here?”
Yesterday I was on a walk in a park I visit every so often. I find myself being pulled in the direction of lavender. Near the lavender there are all kinds of other blue-toned flowers. I do not know the names of the flowers but it doesn't matter, I am delighted. I inhale deeply and smell the softness of the petals, even from afar. I round a corner and then; marigolds and zinnias — orange and yellow — arranged in a sunburst formation. I walk around the flower beds and the scent of zinnias take my memory way back. Olfactory transcendence occurs, I am with my grandfather in Mississippi. When he was alive he planted zinnias everywhere, said they keep the pests away. All this in a whiff while an Indian family gathered taking pictures, the mothers and sisters in matching saris.
Lightness of being, as best as I can define it, is contentment; feeling fully satisfied even in an imperfect moment. It is like this: one minute you’re taking a quick pee while pondering about this life you're living. This doesn’t at all look like the life you thought you’d be living. It's far from perfect. Oddly (you flush) it doesn’t concern you a single bit. And then, (are we almost out of toilet paper?) you go right back to trying not to worry again.