Once, while in Nepal, a spiritual teacher told me that one of the best things in life is to be carefree; “being open from within, not constricted, or tight or bumping up against things.” But rather, to be relaxed, free, unhampered, without the need to achieve something or be someone special. He even went on to say, “even when something isn’t funny, still smile.”
I think what he meant was to embrace both the disappointments and the joys of life with the same equanimity and not be consumed by the need for approval or recognition. Which is easier said than done.
Today, I had two things happen within an hour of each other. I received an email from a professional reviewer who didn’t particularly like my book, even her positive comments where off (at least in my humble opinion.) Feeling disappointed, I decided to go for a long walk. Near the top of a hill, I passed an acquaintance and greeted her with a quick, “hello.”
She stopped, ran over to me, and grabbed my arm. “I just wanted to tell you I read your book and it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.” Her eyes had a misty quality to them.
“Really?” was all I could muster.
“Yes, really. It’s right up there in my top five books of all time.”
I smiled and thanked her. My heart that felt small and defeated just a moment ago, lifted; replaced with a willingness to believe everything would be all right. I squared my shoulders and with a slight bounce in my step, walked back home ready to tackle my next writing project. A few blue patches in the sky appeared and a piliated woodpecker flew overhead making everything seem brighter.
I know I probably shouldn’t let one reviewer get to me and be more carefree about the whole writing world because we all go through rejection and approval, being liked and disliked. I wish I had the wisdom of that teacher and could just feel fine when life throws its curveballs. But I have to say, I like the heat that radiates through my chest when someone approves of what I do or compliments me. It feels good too, knowing, that probably most of us, feel the same way. Which makes me think it might be nice if I complimented others more often, and smiled more, “even when something isn’t funny.”
How did you find solace this week?
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