Have you ever been in a plane and looked out the window to see the most incredible display of fluffy white clouds? The ones that look like a massive bag of cotton balls (without the plastic of course) which seem so soft and squishy and inviting? It’s like if you jumped into them, you would just sink in the middle and feel so warm and protected and happy. Whenever I see those clouds, I always daydream about what it would be like to jump into them, as long as I didn’t fall through the other side of course!
That’s where I am right now. No, not literally! Although that would be pretty great too! I did something really scary. I jumped into those clouds hoping they had a bottom to hold me, but not knowing for sure. I flew to London and told my second family, aka my London friends, that I’m not ok. That the smiles are hiding fear and sadness and hopelessness. I told them I need help. I don’t normally do that. Of course I’ve been through many challenging times in the 10+ years I’ve known my friends here. They’ve known I’ve needed help. Many times in the past they’ve told me to take a break, step back, slow down, etc and I always looked at them and said, “I’m fine. No need to worry about me. I’m strong and independent!” Guess what? I am strong and independent, but only because I have a great support system (sorry to bring in the psychology slang, I met up with an ex-colleague today!).
In the past, I was too busy hiding my feelings and charging on like a bull in a china shop (has a bull ever actually been in a china shop?) to realise that they were supporting me. That they were always behind me waiting to catch me when I inevitably fell (and that I did many times). It was scary leaving London. Sure, I sold everything to move to an idyllic part of the Caribbean to live “the dream life,” but this second family was my security blanket, they were my fluffy white clouds and it was scary to move so far away from them.
Studying Buddhism has made me realise that I’m not really as independent as I think I am. That everything around me has come to fruition through other people. That I’m a strong woman who explores the world because I had parents who taught me to be resourceful, because throughout my life since adolescence, I’ve been surrounded by protectors, aka, friends, who have led me down the lit path when I started wandering down the dark one. Because the universe sends strangers into my life when I most need them and the list goes on and on. Even this laptop I’m writing on was the result of someone else. Ok, easy because it was a Christmas gift from my parents, but they had to work to get the money to buy it. The company who sold it to them had to hire the employees to put the box in the shop, the salesman to sell it, the cashier to take the money and of course integral, the person/people who invented and made the laptop! I could keep going, but I think you get the point.
As I was in the coffee shop baring my inner most emotions to a very close friend, tears were welling in my eyes, as well as his. I was honest about the dark clouds that are in my head that are not inviting to jump into. I shared my inner turmoil about my fears and as I did so, he placed his hand on my arm. It gave me comfort and strength and I felt so loved, supported and accepted. That was all I needed. He said, “I’m so sorry,” and the feelings of hopelessness started falling down like raindrops from grey clouds. He’s the fifth friend I’ve seen here and each time I seek support from someone, the stronger I feel. Most people think it’s shameful to talk about feelings. Negative or positive to be honest! But guess what? We all feel them!! Right now in order to get through this huge change in my life, I need support and in order to do that, I need to be honest. According to Buddhist philosophy, giving compassion is how we find meaning in life. I would argue that we can find meaning in receiving it too. It shows us how good it feels, making us want to spread it to others! Well, in theory that is 😉
Once I get that part of the story out of the way, I start talking about the hope that I have. About my new plans for the work I’m going to do (I’m so over the yachting industry as a full time career. I like sailing, not cleaning and serving!!), how I’m going to use Mallorca as my base and just take some time to be stable and grounded. The excitement about the new ventures jumps over to them and they offer smiles and words of encouragement and offers of help and support.
Sometimes I think I should move back here. The weather has been beautiful since my arrival, very unusual for this time of year and I’m taking advantage of the sunshine as much as I can! I took an hour walk today through London City today and I had a gentle smile on my face as I soaked in the sights and the vibe. Good memories of the times I had here started flooding back. I admired the architecture all around me, I could feel the energy of the London spirits past and present. I asked myself, could I move back here? The city has a great vibe and I have so many incredible friends here. Then I remembered the rain and the cold and the damp and quickly refuted that idea! It’s not necessarily about being physically around people that is the most important. I always have them. I haven’t lived here for nearly four years and they all still come running towards me to catch me, as I do to them.
As I sit here with my herbal tea, listening to the sounds of the city happening outside of the window, I remember the Buddhist teachings. We create our own reality. As human beings, each of us has the ability to train our minds to live in whatever reality we want to. That’s exactly what I’m in the process of doing. I’m going to create a new reality. My new reality is living in those fluffy white clouds and realising that everything that happens, beautiful or challenging, is teaching me a very important lesson. These lessons will teach me how to become a more patient and compassionate human being, which I have discovered, is the meaning of life. I want to spread joy and happiness to other people in whatever way I can. I want to ease their suffering and fill it with happiness.
I may sink from time to time, but through the compassion of others and the happiness they experience, I will always float back to the top. What a great reality to live in, don’t you think? Challenges are not meant to fill us with sadness and hopelessness, but to teach us how to improve. To remind us that we are all suffering and in order to ease that suffering, all we need is a bit of compassion.