What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self? | A Cup of Jo

“‘Date the one who makes you laugh. Who makes you think. Who introduces you to your favorite new things. Date the one who listens. Who makes you feel like you are home. And the first and foremost quality in a boyfriend or girlfriend is that he or she likes you back.’— Lisa Rubisch

—Caroline Donofrio, “What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?cupofjo.com. May 7, 2019.

Ninety percent of your happiness is a function of who you spend your time with. Choose your romantic partners and friends wisely, and don’t give family a free pass. When it comes to people, you get what you tolerate.

A Deeper Dive: Reflections on a Four-Year Silent Meditation Retreat

“Wherever we may be in our practice, we’ve all at times asked ourselves: What would it be like if I sat a little longer? Perhaps after our first afternoon, or daylong silent retreat, we thought—’I was really able finally to settle in there and experience stillness. It was powerful, and some interesting thoughts arose. What would sitting two days be like? Or three? What if I did a full week of silent meditation? What deeper levels of insight and compassion might unfold then?’

Few have understood and heeded this call of the cushion quite like Bill and Susan Morgan. For years, this Boston couple, both of whom are meditation teachers and longtime meditators, had been coming to the Insight Meditation Society’s Forest Refuge to sit silent retreats for three months every year. Some years, they have sat for three months straight. For others, they’ve sat for two six-week periods. For several years in a row, they sat in silence for one week each month.

Then, one day in 2009, Susan said to Bill, “I think we should do a deeper dive. Let’s really step out, and go more deeply into the practice.” Her proposal? A two-year silent meditation retreat [that turned into four years].

Interview with Bill and Susan Morgan. “A Deeper Dive: Reflections on a Four-Year Silent Meditation Retreat.” Insight Meditation Society. February 15, 2019.

Living for four years in silent retreat is an experience most of us cannot even imagine. I found the discussion worth a listen. Recommended, particularly if you have any kind of meditation practice.

Sea Change, Rich & Strange

“Nothing of him that doth fade / but doth suffer a sea-change / Into something rich and strange.”

—Percy Shelley, The Tempest

Sea change, rich and strange. Swim in strange waters. Armed with beauty and circus, wage war on the monotony of life.

Designate time for what matters, and be a connoisseur of the free use of time. Live without dead time and without hindrance. Delight in life; give pleasure.

Choose again; begin again. Move and the way will open. Find your own happiness and paths to adventure. Follow the accident; fear the set plan.

Decide your own life. Don’t let another person run or rule you. Don’t run or rule others. Don’t go through life wanting to be liked.

How alive are you willing to be? What is the price of life? You must make your own determination and enforce it.

Hard times and oppression develop psychic muscles. Safety leads to stagnation.

Enlightenment consists in correctly grasping our essential needs. Wisdom values puzzles over facts. Avoid learning too many lessons. Pick up the battle and make it a better world, just where you are.

Trying is Lying

“‘I wish someone had told me when I was much younger that I didn’t have to have an airtight legal case for a breakup — all I had to have was a desire to no longer be in that relationship,’ she writes. ‘I would have saved myself a lot of time.'”

—Kelli María Korducki. “Leaving a Good Man Is Hard To Do.” Longreads.com. May 2018.

The test of every ethical choice is whether you’d want to be on the receiving end of it. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be with someone who no longer wanted to be in a relationship with me. So, I tend to think it is good advice.

But, at the same time, it would be real easy to use this way of thinking to cut and run every time a relationship gets hard, and every relationship worth having is going to get hard.

Joan Didion might have put it better in her essay on Self-Respect:

“…anything worth having has its price. People who respect themselves are willing to accept the risk that the Indians will be hostile, that the venture will go bankrupt, that the liaison may not turn out to be one in which every day is a holiday because you’re married to me.”