Desire What You Have
I have a chime hanging from the window to the left of my desk in the Treehouse with the words “Desire What You Have” painted on the front. I bought it a few years ago as an epiphany purchase. It was one of those times when I was sucked in the vortex of the Bibelot shop in northeast, the wallet in my pocket a burning inferno. I saw this beautiful painted chime dangling from the ceiling and I was so struck by the message, I put out the fire out and put my money on the counter.
I am so glad I did.
I love the simple wisdom of the phrase: Desire What You Have.
If we desire what we have, then no matter what our possessions, we are rich.
I love coming across it again and again because it reminds me to be aware of my thoughts and to be aware of what I have and what I am now. I need to be reminded.
When I sat down to start this blog, I was looking for inspiration in “The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living.” I came across this quote by the Dalai Lama:
“…our moment-to-moment happiness is largely determined by our outlook. In fact, whether we are feeling happy or unhappy at any given moment often has very little to do with our absolute conditions but, rather it is a function of how we perceive our situation, how satisfied we are with what we have.”
I have noticed by listening to my thoughts that I spend a ridiculous amount of time wanting to be more than I am. I rarely, if ever, sit back and bask in my accomplishments and who I am now. I unwittingly live in a state of personal dissatisfaction. “When I publish my first book, then I will Be a Writer,” I tell myself. “When my website is perfect, when my teaching is perfect, when I have many articles published in Oprah Magazine, when I am no longer nervous before I begin teaching a new class, then I will feel like I have arrived at my own doorstep.”
“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.” ~James Openheim
Meanwhile, the person I am now, right now–my feet up on this couch in the Treehouse, Oliver and Lucy snug and safe in their beds, Dharma curled up next to me, writing this blog–is ignored because I have convinced myself that I am not complete, that I have to strain and strive and be better to deserve this blessed life.
I do not think these things consciously. These thoughts run unsupervised through my head until I take the time to notice them and really hear what I am saying to myself. And then I realize all of this self-talk is crazy talk. If I can’t accept myself and what I have now, then I will never accept myself and what I have. Because it’s a way of thinking. It’s practicing non-acceptance of myself over and over and over.
This is yet another reason I must write. I must have a way to reveal this crazy talk, to call it out for what it is so I can be aware of it and slowly, slowly change it. If I write it, not only have I taken the time to draw it out and contemplate it, I can see it in literal black and white, staring back at me. And when I am able to look my thoughts in the eye and see them for what they are, I can then challenge them.
In the pages of my journal, I sow seeds of change. Some are slow to grow, others just need a little light and attention to take hold and flourish.
It is necessary to be aware of what we want in this life. However, it is a delicate balance that must be tempered by an abiding awarness of what we have. Life is now. I have arrived at the doorstep of myself. In fact, I’ve been standing here the whole time.
Exercise for reflection and writing: Dwell in the landscape of what you have now, in this moment, in your life. Like Openheim’s quote, when we see the very garden in which we stand, we notice we are surrounded by abundance and beauty. If you have trouble beginning, simply write the words, “I have…” Keep returning to those words, those thoughts, of what you have right now in your life. Are you desiring what you have?
Janna Brayman Krawczyk is a writer and a teacher. She has a B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters in Teaching from Hamline University. She has been writing in a journal for over half of her life and has finally accepted that life is not easy, yet our struggles and obstacles are what inspire insight and wisdom. For this reason, she must write as a way to understand herself and her life, stay sane, and dream big dreams. She feels blessed to share this healing and illuminating practice with as many people as possible in her lifetime…