The Best Feeling Ever

I always wander home, eventually, ever surprised, once again, that no matter where I roam, I am always home. “Wherever you go, there you are.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn). The hearth of home. Joy.

Yes, joy. No, really. Joy, in all of its rejoicing, delight, exultation. The best feeling ever. It’s always there. I just don’t realize it. I get lost. Why is that?

When does home become a foreign place? It doesn’t, of course. It is I who become a stranger in a new land, when ideal replaces real. When joy becomes only a brilliant light, unsustainable. Unreal.

Joy is not a momentary flash, all show. Joy is pure prana, the energy of existing. It is home. The trappings and trimmings change but joy seeps through any moment, no matter how dark.

Joy fills the cracks of experience, pulls the pieces together and seals them with grace. That is the hearth of home, no matter how the house might appear. Within are the rooms of a lifetime. The exploration never ends.

Still, I wander from time to time, and it is in impermanence that I wander– when change arrives–I go in search of what is gone but don’t yet accept. It is a fool’s errand but I go anyway.

Once I realize I have been running, I stop. That’s the easy part. It is at home that I am face-to-face with the change that sent me running. At a glance, it is minimal. New disc herniation at the base of my neck, a gnawing stomach in protest of ongoing chemical intake. Low sodium and fluid retention issues, maybe heart involvement.

The leitmotif of autoimmune-spinal cord disease, ever involving all of the body. Any newness wears off as soon as it is discovered. Where is the joy? Nothingness, groundlessness, may warm the cockles of my Zen heart but my humanness cannot help but hold cold.

No, I do not feel joy in this moment. I have to trust it is there, nothing more and nothing less, as I pick up the pieces, restructure my home, shake up one routine after another. Rearrangement, new structure.

It is very like a jigsaw puzzle. I know what the picture looks like. That doesn’t change. It’s the rearrangement of the pieces, the energy of grace, that gives me shape. I sink into my surroundings, the room that I occupy more than any other.

It’s comfortable here, my hearth of home, and every time I return I wonder why I ever left. My electric, adjustable queen-size bed, room enough for notes, naps, food, and stand for my desktop keyboard. The comfort eases the ache of arthritic joints, supports my spine and damaged spinal cord. Sturdy and soft, I am ever grateful for home.

From here, I reach out to the world and it calls back. Connection, the experiences of a lifetime. Easy to shut down but in absence, connection changes. Impermanence is inevitable; it does not pause because I do. Easier to stay connected, experience after experience, no matter what.

All of us have only our kind of love to give but I wonder if we know it’s invaluable, pure joy, light no matter what. Life is not limited to one lens, one look, one way. Maybe that’s what I find most difficult.

I don’t want to sit in the eye of any storm anymore because I know to come through is to be changed. That is the way of life in this dimension. It’s not so much what I lose or who I no longer am. Not anymore. It is change itself. That’s new.

A voice from within welcomes me to aging, which I cannot escape, either. There is a lilt to the voice that I recognize as joy and the grace of experience. They whisper trust, and I do. After all, they are always with me.

The caverns of my mind go dark but not completely. There are cracks in every experience. It is the light that wins, as a friend told me, which is not to say living in the light is ever easy. It’s not, nor is it meant to be.

For most of the last six weeks, friends have kept me busy, some on Words with Friends. Slivers of light, both friends and words. It was not writing but it was words. And a blog post here and there. No thing and no one ever stays but each is an experience, all mine.

KMHuberImage; writing

Each time in my wandering, I wonder if I will continue to write. There will come such a day when I won’t, and it is closer. It surprises me that I accept that so readily but I do. With each illness flare-up, I am less, physically. Winter is hard, even a Florida winter without a “snow event.”

A corneal abrasion in my left eye shut down my sight for a while. Corneal abrasions are common but this one occurred in a mishap at a vision clinic and nothing about this incident stayed in the realm of the usual.

Never one to stray far from the written word, I listened to audiobooks, fiction and non. In reading Fire and Fury, I was reminded of what it is to sit through yet another storm of our collective chaos but unless we immerse ourselves in this experience, we will never move through it. The longer we look away, the harder it will be to face who we are.

And in that, I find my way home, again, replete with new life lens, healed corneal abrasion, and if not new vision at least light enough to string together sentences, keep connections, and find ones anew. Still others yet to discover.

Everywhere I go, there I am.

Thanks to Leonard Huber for the Seattle area traffic images, both light and dark.




Joy Without the Hangover

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The “trust in our fresh, unbiased nature brings us unlimited joy– happiness is completely devoid of clinging and craving. This is the joy of happiness without a hangover” (Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You, 2009).

To experience the unlimited joy of every moment, we trust the innate goodness of our open heart. Joy is no more an adrenaline rush than it is an attempt to keep a moment from passing, no hanging on or yearning allowed, only gratitude. It is a matter of equanimity in all matters in all moments.

In revisiting Buddhism through Pema Chödrön, I am reminded of just how basic joy is and just how difficult. As Einstein said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Nowhere is this more evident than in practicing the “four limitless qualities” of joy, equanimity, love, and compassion where ego never dares to tread.

In this past week, I knew moments of suffering in the Buddhist sense–any feeling or action outside the four limitless qualities–I also knew moments of happiness. In either, I did not want the hangover of holding onto the happiness or avoiding the suffering. I just wanted to be.


Unexpected as the events were, I practiced staying and not straying from each moment, difficult as it was. Equanimity in any moment—trying to remain unbiased—allows us to receive what each moment offers. We look within ourselves to our open heart for our compassionate response.

In opening ourselves to our own worth, each of us finds our way “to the truth that we have always been warriors living in a sacred world” (Chödrön). Within our truth is “the ongoing experience of limitless joy” if we will just trust ourselves within that experience.

At the beginning joy is just a feeling that our own situation is workable. We stop looking for a more suitable place to be” (Chödrön). When we stop looking outside for what is inside us, we immerse ourselves in reality. No matter what is occurring, we are alive, and we rejoice in all that we have and all that we are for “it is easy to miss our own good fortune” (Chödrön).

The practice of unlimited joy is our life’s work in every moment we have. “Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts… Everything we see, hear, taste, and smell has the power to strengthen and uplift us” (Chödrön). All we have to do is show up and be amazed, moment by moment.

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As unique as each one of us is, we are all connected in our suffering and happiness of our everyday lives, our source of unlimited joy.  “In a nutshell, when life is pleasant, think of others. When life is a burden, think of others. If this is the only training we ever remember to do, it will benefit us tremendously and everyone else as well” (Chödrön).

Our connection with one another is the expression of our love for the unlimited joy inherent in life, in whatever way it is served to us. We keep life simple, as it is, and not simpler, making it something it is not.

This simple way of training with pleasure and pain allows us to use what we have, wherever we are, to connect with other people. It engenders on-the-spot bravery, which is what it will take to heal ourselves and our brothers and sisters on the planet” (Chödrön).

To face every moment with equanimity is not always possible but doing the best we can with what we have lessens any hangover and increases unlimited joy.