you find what you look for
it's easy to be a cynic
Autumn: how lush, how quiet it is. In the mornings everything is misty and cold. I spent the last week in new york and connecticut — taking the 7 train back and forth to see friends in hudson yards, running across the pier with S, across the high line, walking deep into the golden fall foliage every morning.
Something I thought a lot about on this trip: I believe the world is a mirror for our expectations.
You find what you look for. If you look for flaws, you define the world narrowly. Everything is antagonistic. Everyone steals and pushes and growls and cuts the queue in Safeway. If you subconsciously search for an avoidant love, your needs will never be fulfilled. If you look for evidence that the world is full of tragedy, you’ll see it in every news headline.
It’s easy to be a cynic. It takes effort to honestly try to seek the good.
Example: a friend told me recently that she only attracts bad/subpar guys. Men are terrible, she told me. and I was like: just because you saw 2% of men and they happened to be terrible does not mean all men are terrible. But now you’ve primed yourself for terrible-ness, you’ll see it everywhere. Self fulfilling prophecy, right? And confirmation bias. Like if you walk into a party believing you are socially anxious, you literally become socially anxious. What you expect shapes how you engage with the world.
Maybe that’s why I’ve always been drawn to dreamers, particularly people who action on their dreams. Because they really look for ways to turn it into a reality. In that gaze is intention. Intention magnifies everything you see.
Seeing the good is very important in this particular moment as I’m struggling with a health condition. I looked back at photos of myself from a few years ago. Remembered how insecure I was then. All I cared about was appearing pretty. Now I think, I was so healthy. I’d give anything to be healthy again.
So — gratitude. I feel protective and am much kinder to myself now. Knowing that life slips by without us noticing anything at all. I don’t want to forget how lucky I am. How loved. I want to pay attention to the right things. Allow them to breathe, expand into my life. William Shaw: we make things holy by the kind of attention we give them.
I return often to what Ava wrote here:
I look back now and see that each day of writing was beautiful. Each day of being in love was beautiful. And being heartbroken was beautiful too... I don’t always see the beauty but it’s always there.
And my friend I’s tweet caption: look for beauty everywhere, and you will find it anywhere.
Knowing I find what I look for is very empowering. I’m growing into it. Nowadays I don’t look for salvation in anything or anyone. I quietened that part of my brain that used to seek excessive pain/suffering. What do I look for? Vitality. Resonance. Peace.
I know I can find it in the mundane moment — making tea, running errands, sitting on a couch talking to you. I can also find it in deep within myself. You already are everything you are seeking (Thich Nhat Hahn).
Last night I ran across the Presidio and back by the ocean, city blinking in the water. As the reflection wavered, soft moonlight expanded across the horizon. Clear, radiant and pure. I felt an overwhelming conviction that everything would be alright. Here I am. I look for the beautiful and now I see it all the time.
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