What really makes us happy? What may be the best way to be Psyched for Monday (and everyday)?

This past week, I was privileged to return to Strozzi Institute, to spend 3 days, with my teacher, Richard Strozzi Heckler. Together with others who have studied somatic (from soma, the body in its wholeness) coaching and leadership, we engaged in practices and we reflected on the shadow and mystery of ourselves and our lives. Before sitting in group meditation each day, Richard read the following poem:

Try to love everything that gets in your way:
the Chinese women in flowered bathing caps
murmuring together in Mandarin, doing leg exercises in your lane
while you execute thirty-six furious laps,
one for every item on your to-do list.
The heavy-bellied man who goes thrashing through the water
like a horse with a harpoon stuck in its side,
whose breathless tsunamis rock you from your course.
Teachers all.  Learn to be small
and swim through obstacles like a minnow
without grudges or memory.  Dart
toward your goal, sperm to egg.  Thinking Obstacle
is another obstacle.  Try to love the teenage girl
idly lounging against the ladder, showing off her new tattoo:
Cette vie est la mienne, This life is mine,
in thick blue-black letters on her ivory instep.
Be glad she’ll have that to look at all her life,
and keep going, keep going.  Swim by an uncle
in the lane next to yours who is teaching his nephew
how to hold his breath underwater,
even though kids arent allowed at this hour.  Someday,
years from now, this boy
who is kicking and flailing in the exact place
you want to touch and turn
will be a young man, at a wedding on a boat
raising his champagne glass in a toast
when a huge wave hits, washing everyone overboard.
He’ll come up coughing and spitting like he is now,
but he’ll come up like a cork,
alive.  So your moment
of impatience must bow in service to a larger story,
because if something is in your way it is
going your way, the way
of all beings; towards darkness, towards light.

–Alison Luterman

As I reflected on this poem in the beautiful northern California sun, I thought: Thinking Obstacle is another obstacle. One of my “obstacles” has been the Edmonton winters and hearing that six inches of snow fell back home brought that one to the fore. I wondered, what if it is not an obstacle? The first thing that hit me was that maybe me being in Edmonton is not essentially about me being happy; maybe I’m here to serve. The quotation from George Bernard Shaw flew to mind, “This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can.”

As I shared these thoughts with my friend Dawn on Saturday morning, she handed me a cup of tea. The tea bag read, “Live for something higher, bigger and better than you.”

Mystery indeed.

As I shift my focus from the world making me happy to how I can be of service, I feel joyful and I’m Psyched for Monday.

I encourage you to play with loving everything that gets in your way and considering how service may lead you to exhilarated learning.

Have a wonderful week. Be exhilarated!

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