Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her
― Lao Tzu
The last few nights, after getting over a pretty severe head cold, I found myself sleeping more deeply than before. I’ve been paying better attention to the heaviness in my eyelids, the slowing of my breath, the relaxing of my pulse. Rather than staying awake longer, I’ve been diligent to sit my book down, turn the lamp off, and go to sleep. Eight hours later, I wake up refreshed. I know this all sounds really, well, boring, but after what felt like a long time of sleeplessness, real, genuine rest has been a blessing.
The additional benefit of paying closer attention to my body has been doing the same with my mind, with my thoughts. Most marked has been the relative lack of drama and intense emotion in my life. Let me explain…
For most of the time I live in Chicago, especially during my relationship, I would see my therapist weekly. And just as often, I would talk about “crashing” — the time of the week when my emotional state would diminish, I’d become sad/depressed/melancholic, and would basically shut down, waiting on Frankie or Audrey or Jonathon or someone to rescue me.
Don’t get me wrong. Moving to Washington has not made me immune to spells of being a genuine drama queen. But for the most part, when I reflect on my work, my down time, my therapy sessions, and my relationships, I’ve been surprised at how… self-sufficient… I’ve been. Sure, the holidays sucked (a lot), but here I am at the end of another month, and I’m still standing.
Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.
― Lao Tzu
When I woke up this morning bright and early, I thought almost immediately about writing. And for whatever reason, the title above came to mind. It wasn’t until after my morning caffeine that I realized why: I’m not crashing anymore. I thought, though, that I was going to be writing about strength or resilience or courage. As I searched for quotes (see, now you know my writing process), nothing that came up for those words resonated with me. Then another word came to mind: contentment. It would seem that my mental image of flying is less about strength or resilience and more about the contentment that comes with being where you are.
…or maybe it’s about trusting that you are where you need to be…
I have a number of friends who have turned out to be rather successful. Many people I know are in some kind of spotlight, whether it’s because of their knowledge on a particular subject, their skill at acting, the book they wrote or the song they sang or the art they created. Some of them are pretty wealthy. Many of them have become really amazing parents.
I’m not them… I’m me…
There’s something about the image of flying for me that makes me realize the only body, the only mind, the only heart, the only spirit for which I am responsible is my own. While I’ve never written a book or been invited onto a TV show or been played on the radio, this does not make my life, my journey, insignificant. It makes it mine, special, unique, and equally important.
The notion of staying airborne for me is apparently about honoring my strengths, my gifts, my unique offerings to the world. This isn’t about tooting my own horn (at least i don’t mean it to be). I think it’s about helping me (and hopefully you) remember that when we’re in the air, living our lives, following our flight plans, paying too much attention to the people around us can take us off course and lose touch with our own selves.
Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.
― Lao Tzu
Apparently I like Lao Tzu…
I think I wanted to write this today because it’s beautiful outside. The sun is shining, and with my screen door open, I can feel the breeze and hear the birds. I think I wanted to write this as a record of where I’m at right now. And I think I wanted to write this as a way of thanking you for journeying with me, whoever you are. I hope your flight is treating you well, that the sun is keeping you warm, the wind giving you height, and the world reminding you of just how amazing you are.
photo credit: Stephen Bowler (via Flickr), cc
This piece originally appeared on Michael’s blog, Finding the Balance.
MICHAEL OVERMAN is a graduate of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL. As a self-admitted “old soul”, Michael is more than comfortable asking the tough questions and not having immediate answers. Michael is passionate about all things interfaith, challenging the religious status quo — and baking whenever possible.
As he says, “Running from God is easy… running back to God is anything but.” He tried parish ministry. Too hot. He tried the nonprofit sector. Too cold. He finally tried hospital chaplaincy. Just right.
Michael currently lives in Vancouver, WA where he is a hospital chaplain. In his spare time, he loves chocolate, wine, and scifi.
Check out more of Michael’s writing at www.findingthebalance.net.