“Are you off to see Fifty Shades of Grey, then,” my mom-in-law asked this weekend, as Eric and I dropped our children off with her.
“Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” I replied, “I’ve been so excited to watch it!”
Eric and I certainly had fifty shades of giggles. “What do you want to drink babe?” Eric asked me in the movie theater foyer.
“Nothing, thanks,” I whispered, I’ve snuck in a bottle of water.”
“See that line there,” Eric said tracing a tile rim with his foot, “You’re on it. You are living on the EDGE Baby!”
We sat in the cinema, waiting for the movie to start, realizing that we were the youngest in the sparsely occupied theater by about-oooh-30 years. Should we be watching Fifty Shades?!
Just as well I don’t do the word ‘should’…
‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ was an absolute fiesta, a gorgeous explosion on the senses. And, boy, did it remind me what living was! It was more than a celebration of the winter years, more like a no-holds-barred rave. In their seventies and eighties the protagonists were sleeping around, getting lofty job promotions, travelling throughout India, planning best man speeches and falling in love: Fan-blooming-tastic.
What I found most enthralling was the characters’ acceptance of whatever came their way and their willingness to go with the flow. It’s not that ‘bad’ things didn’t happen, it’s just that they seemed less on guard to stress, more open to life, less rigid in what ‘should’ be coming to them. Their stress reactors seemed diluted. They never lost themselves to the things that were going on around them. They remained true to their characters.
That was a lesson to me. Things that would throw many of us; learning you are to die soon, finding out your partner is having an affair, biting loneliness…all these ‘tragedies’ dealt with such little resistance and thus suffering. It reminded me of something I read recently in a blog, that…
“…Quality of life is determined by how you deal with your moments, not which moments happen and which don’t… To encounter an undesirable situation and work with it willingly is the mark of a wise and happy person. Imagine getting a flat tire, falling ill at a bad time, or knocking something over and breaking it — and suffering nothing from it. There is nothing to fear if you agree with yourself to deal willingly with adversity whenever it does show up. That is how to make life better. The typical, low-leverage method is to hope that you eventually accumulate power over your circumstances so that you can get what you want more often. There’s an excellent line in a Modest Mouse song, celebrating this side-effect of wisdom: As life gets longer, awful feels softer.” (Eric Allen Bell, ‘The Nine Epiphanies that Shifted my Perspective Forever’)
There is such a freedom that comes from throwing our hands up in the air and saying, I’m open to life! I’m available to life! Instead most of us stumble around, shuttered by fear. Ultimately though, being open to life is the only wise way to be because although we can attract what comes to us through our thoughts and feelings to a certain degree, we can’t control what our soul has pre-destined for us nor what others in our immediate sphere may have planned. Life loves to say ‘SURPRISE!’ Our point of power is our own selves, and our only control is our reaction to the things that happen to us.
When I grow up, I want to be just like the Best Exotic’s Evelyn Greenslade and Muriel Donnelly. I want to embrace every moment and every opportunity, I want to be open to change and walk through fear. I want to know that age is just a number and I want to push past people’s expectations of me and who I am. In the words of Evelyn, played by Dame Judi Dench: “The only real failure is the failure to try, and the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment.” (‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’)
Today’s post is dedicated to my mum who is the epitome of the ageless, glamorous baby-boomer. In recent years she’s been going through a rough time, nursing my dear father. But she is the type to say ‘sod it’ and bugger off to India for her latter years. We joke that she’s more likely to die by great white shark attack than in a nursing home. She’s brave and bold and thirsty for more meaningful moments. She’s not to be sidelined into daytime TV, endless cups of tea and a blanket on her knees. Although you may be understandably tired, mum, today’s for you. To remember the fiery, inexhaustible, adventurous soul you are. Hold onto that.
Choose not to let dark times define you. Choose instead to define them.
There is a beautiful lady, Kara, who is ringing in my head as I write these words. Kara is the best example I know of putting her own bright stamp on dark times. She is a married mother of four young children and she is dying of cancer. Her blog has captivated my heart, along with thousands of others. It has humbled me, crumbled me and shown me the fragility of life. Kara has taught me to hug a little longer, to make more messy chocolate brownies in the kitchen with my children, to stop and let the magic of life wash through my awareness that bit more often. Not only can you read her stunning posts, you can also read her books and see her documentary via this link http://www.mundanefaithfulness.com/
Wherever we may be, right now we have Life. What do you choose to do with this precious gift?