The older I get, the less certain I am of so many things. I realize that prospect may be terrifying to some, but I am sometimes able to find a measure of peace and even solace in the not knowing. And by terrifying to some, I mean me, as well. Yet, I find when I can sit in stillness, even for a moment, my questions have gifts for me. As much as the certainty of being fulfilled/loved/safe/etc. is a lovely idea, there are, of course, no guarantees. Circumstances can change instantly and dramatically. Questions remain.
But there are other questions, too, that might be helpful to keep in mind for those times when life seems haphazard or especially challenging.
Here is one question I’ve asked lately: What is the kindest thing I can do for myself in this moment?
Think of the smallest, youngest person you know, someone you cherish. Or, if there are no littles in your life right now, call to mind someone vulnerable and precious to you. Imagine that lovely, trusting face and recall the tenderness you’ve shown to this person. Can you feel the warmth of your love? What do you want for your loved one? Everything good, right? Now, can you imagine extending that love to you? If that feels like too much, just think of one tiny, kind thing you can do for you.
Maybe your one kind thing could be making a step forward to that dream you’ve been putting off? Whatever this step is, see if you can follow it where it wants to go. Will it bring up more questions, more uncertainty? Probably. And here’s another question: What would it be like to sit with the discomfort, even for a moment? It will pass. And return. And maybe the next time the discomfort, the lack of knowing, will not be so frightening. Maybe the questions will not bring frustration, but will instead bring curiosity and eventually even a sense of wonder. Maybe the uncertainty – the “what if” will not carry foreboding, but instead, possibilities. What if, indeed. What if I can move toward my dream? What if my small steps, taken consistently, move me forward? What if there is more love, more kindness, more freedom ahead?
Sometimes a kind and simple thing I do for myself is to take my camera for a walk. The past few months have been challenging mentally, physically and emotionally for me, and several weeks ago, the feelings of depletion were starting to lift, but really, I could have spent the entire day on the sofa with tea and Netflix. That would have been totally fine, but I asked the kind question and the immediate answer was camera/walk. It helped that the morning was foggy, misty and cool, my favorite weather ever. I had an idea about a long, meandering walk, stopping whenever something beautiful wanted to be photographed, but I ended up not far from home, by an old, lovely tree with visible and winding roots. I spent time with it, taking some photos, enjoying the fog, looking at the tree from all sides, following its roots. When I returned home, I did feel a bit more ease and that I’d treated myself as kindly as I would have a loved one.
What is the kindest thing you can do for yourself right now?