Worry is the secret weapon perpetrated upon us by the dark forces of the world that lurk in the shape of fear, uncertainty, confusion, and loss.
We, on the other hand, have our own secret weapon against these incorporeal fiends.
It is laughter.
Many of us get depressed during the holidays. We tend to look around at the seething overflow of cheer everywhere -- in the media, on the streets, under every social circumstance. If we are not personally caught up in the whirlwind joy, we feel inadequate, and the blue feeling intensifies and spirals.
Eventually we are like spots of gloom compared to the rest of the bubbling Happyland, when in fact we are merely the same -- exactly how we had been moments before someone decided to call in the holidays.
All of this might take place not because we are all Humbug Scrooges, but because any forced mood change somehow feels artificial, unreal, and most of us are able to tell.
Indeed, festive mood is like a bottled giddy perfume, and it gets liberally sprayed on the world around the early fall, so that all the focus tends to slip toward green fur tree boughs, red gift wrap, golden blurry lights, and various camera angles upon a laden feast table centerpiece. The festive fragrance also calls up people dressed in bright sweaters, smiling excessively and hugging each other, raising sparkling glasses to toast something intangible.
Sometimes this perfume works on us, and we are caught up in the glow (in which case, ignore the rest of this entry, go, shoo!).
Other times, we are not quite in synch with it. So we wave off the overbearing scent in annoyance, not to mention a minor allergic reaction. This is when the dissonance starts to grate, to exacerbate our irritation and our already different personal state. Or else, it increases the nostalgic longing for the illusory joy that seems out of reach.
Think -- how unfair it is to ask anyone to rejoice when they are breaking inside, for so many reasons.
And yet . . .
And yet, the Spirit of the Holidays has a strange healing power if we allow it to affect us. For it is the collective spirit of joy of humanity with all its rich time-brewed traditions and rituals and primeval wonder -- how can it not move us?
However, as with any proper application of scent, too much all at once is a mistake. Mood perfume must be so subtle that it enters you and me without notice, gradually, and starts to seduce with its inevitability.
One breath at a time.
Then the warmth becomes real, the candles shine with a sacred light, the green boughs beckon, and the smiles touch the heart. Even if just for a moment, it is all genuine, all applicable to us, members of the human species.
It is only then that, drenched in the perfumed sweetness of verisimilitude, we can truly celebrate.
There's a familiar saying we've all heard before -- follow your dreams.
It is absolute nonsense.
If you follow a dream, you will be following it always, like the receding horizon, like a will-o-wisp. Under no circumstances should you follow your dreams, for dreams are only shadows.
Instead, consider what it is that you dream about, and come up with a practical, goal-driven plan of action that will get you -- or anyone -- there.
Then, follow your own step-by-step achievement instructions, as you would a recipe.
Even a child can do it.
There is an empty spot inside all of us. Sometimes there is more than one.
The spot is like a tiny black hole. The nature of its vacuum is blacker than black, colder than cold, more hungry than a starving nation.
The spot-holes must all be filled, or you feel an empty heartache, ennui, a sense of waste, a lack of will to do anything with yourself, a loss of meaning, a general weakness of will.
If you do nothing about it, more "holes" develop, and with time you lose personal cohesiveness. Slowly, you diminish.
What to do?
Well, it's a bit of a trick to fill those empty spots.
It requires the Great Flood.
The Great Flood is an outpouring of life energy to generate a rising tide of selfhood.
What in the world does that mean?
Simple -- it is a redirection of energy.
Energy rises from your center to the outside, like a fountain, and fills in all empty spots of vacuum as it fills all of you.
Every hole is plugged. Every need is met. All hunger appeased. The fabric that is "you" is repaired and strengthened.
The life energy rushes outward like a supernova, brimming past the borders of your "self."
How to get that energy? Where does it come from?
One might say, "it comes out of nothing." It "comes" in answer to an effort you make to look for it.
Indeed, the moment you begin to wonder, to think of it, it is there, just welling at the edges of your being -- the life force.
So, go ahead . . . Invoke it and use it to make the Great Flood.
Then, Fill Yourself.
Have you ever seen the dawn?
Not a dawn groggy with lack of sleep or hectic with mindless obligations and you about to rush off on an early adventure or business, but full of deep silence and absolute clarity of perception?
A dawning which you truly observe, degree by degree.
It is the most amazing moment of birth.
And more than anything it can spur you to action.
Have a burning day.
Pick up a delicate fine-bone china teacup filled with the hot freshly boiled brew of tea leaves -- Darjeeling or Assam or your favorite black treasure.
First, lower your face, lips hovering just above the surface, allowing the subtle fragrant steam to wash over your skin, to bond with you and enter the pores. The warmth stands like a second skin.
Then, inhale the steam . . .
Fill your lungs with warm, soothing, vapor-drenched air.
Exhale slowly, in complete peace.
Put your lips to the edge of cup and linger. Feel its smoothness.
When the brew is no longer scalding but still hot enough to fill you with exultant living fire, take the first sip. Draw in and taste the light, life-affirming liquid.
You are home.
Everyone's always searching for something.
It's either stuff we want, or need, or admire, or miss, or plain find fascinating. Sometimes if we focus all our resources upon the object of the search, it becomes a violent obsession. But if we search the right way -- light, airy, carefree -- we indeed find wonder.
Searching is our human drive for fulfillment, completion, a life urge, a reaffirmation of the self.
In the searching lies joy.
Go look for something today!
Want to touch the upper atmosphere?
Next time it rains, leave a bucket outside and then come and dip your fingers in. There's a good chance that at least some of that water contains particles from on-high.
Want to know the highest wisdom?
Step outside into a crowded street and listen. There's a good chance you will hear a line or two of something that expounds upon profound, absolute truth.
The five senses are the only things standing between each one of us and the rest of the universe.
It is possible that there is another sense -- indeed, maybe an infinite number of other subtle senses -- which we know nothing about.
But these precious five that we do know, we must guard and treasure and never lose track of, and hone their sharpness with all that is within us.
For, without our senses we are truly alone.
The regular rhythm of your breath is the basis of everything you do. It is relentless and constant and reliable as clockwork.
And yet, if you stop to think about it for even one moment, you can "stumble" and lose the rhythm.
Such self-contemplation -- an act of stepping outside yourself -- can make you stumble in many other things.
Why not pretend for a moment that everything you do is like breathing?