A Perfect Day

This is one of those perfect days, a gift from the universe. The weather isn’t particularly nice, none of my problems have been resolved, I’m still facing life alone and yet . . . and yet . . .

I’m walking around with a smile on my face. (I’m cracking up here. I accidentally wrote “with a simile on my face”, and I suppose that could be true, too.)

It’s possible my recent bout of tears/sorrow/grief shook something loose in me and when things settled back into place, they settled into a more harmonious whole. It’s possible I’ve reached a new level of acceptance of my life, because as I have discovered, every step forward is accompanied by an upsurge of grief for what I am leaving behind. It could be that the grief I’ve felt over the loss of a friendship has smoothed over with the realization it’s how I feel about the friend that counts, not what the friend feels about me.

Or it could be the alchemist affect.

wizardPeople frequently remind me that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result each time, and if we lived in a closed system where everything remained the same, repeating the same ineffective actions would be insane. But every day things are different. And it’s that difference the alchemists banked on. We picture the alchemists doing the same procedure repeatedly in a crazed attempt to perfect their experiment, but the truth is, they did the same thing over and over again in exactly the same way in the hope of getting different results. Sometimes everything came together as they hoped, and they transformed lead into gold or themselves into a higher form of life or atoms into energy.

The alchemists knew the truth — that we do not live in a closed system.. The earth hurtles around the sun at 67,000 mph. The sun hurtles around the galaxy at 140 miles per second. The entire universe is also moving and expanding, so from one second to the next we are in a completely different place with a possibility of different factors. Add in more localized variables, such as humidity, temperature, sun spot activity and solar winds, and it would seem insane to do the same thing over and over again and expect the same results.

Does it really matter why I feel good today? Not particularly. It’s enough to know that it is possible for me to have a day that makes me feel good even though such days are as incomprehensible to me as those where I can’t stop crying.

For all I know, it’s not even me who cried the other day. Maybe it’s not even me who feels good today. Maybe I’m just a conduit for unrecognized cosmic energies.

Which would make today exactly as I said, a gift from the universe.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Insanity, Alchemy, and Me

It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, but the saying only holds true when referring to insane or destructive behaviors. In our normal lives, we constantly do the same thing over and over, expecting different results . . . and we get them. We rise at the same time each morning, eat the same breakfast, drive the same way to work, go to the same job, but we don’t expect each day to be exactly the same as the day before. It can’t be the same — there are too many variables.

In a closed system, perhaps, the saying would hold true, but since there are no closed systems, we normally get different results. Writers and other creative people experience this every day. We sit in the same place, pen in hand or fingers on the keyboard, and open our selves up to the creative process. Sometimes the words flow and sometimes they don’t. Athletes deal with differences in performance, sometimes they are in the zone and everything is perfect, and sometimes, though they do exactly the same thing as always, their performance is off.

This expectation of different results was the basis for alchemy. We picture the alchemists doing the same procedure repeatedly to perfect their experiment, but the truth is, they did the same thing over and over again in exactly the same way in the hope of getting different results. Sometimes everything came together as they hoped, and they got the desired results, transforming lead into gold or themselves into a higher form of life or atoms into energy. (Or so the legends say.)

Why would the alchemists expect different results by doing exactly the same thing? Because they knew they did not live in a closed system. The earth hurtles around the sun at 67,000 mph. The sun hurtles around the galaxy at 140 miles per second. The entire universe is also moving and expanding, so from one second to the next we are in a completely different place with a possibility of different factors. Add in more localized variables, such as humidity, temperature, sun spot activity and solar winds, and it would seem insane to do the same thing over and over again and expect the same results.

After my moment of happiness yesterday, when I could feel that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing (simply “being”), I decided to do the same thing again today. Not surprisingly, the results were different. I stood in the same place, repeated the same mantra (“I am happy”), felt the breeze and the heat, smelled the sun-warmed creosote bushes, inhaled the clean air. It was nice, and I felt peaceful, but there was no moment of clarity as there was yesterday. I truly did not expect the same results. I know about variables. The day was hotter, the sky a paler blue, no jackrabbit loped by but humans in their motorized vehicles were driving around disturbing the air currents and creating sound vibrations. I might not have slept as well as I had the previous night, or perhaps I’d dissipated my mystic energies in exercising before going for my walk, which I didn’t do yesterday. Still, it felt good standing in the desert, doing nothing but being, so I intend to do that very same thing over and over, expecting different results each time. And therein lies sanity.

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