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  • Writer's picturePeg Larkin

Feel The Better

“Feel better.” How many times have we heard those words? Growing up, tucked under the covers, as our mother laid the back of her hand on our forehead, and with a juice glass of water, and 2 orange flavored aspirin, she prescribed the medicine with a gentle order: “Feel better.” It came with assurance, that we would, indeed, with rest, and fluids and a few more episodes of our favorite cartoons…of course: feel better. Most of the time, we did. We were lucky that way.

“It will get better.” How many times have we said that, especially this year? As parents, friends and co-workers, we offer solace in the outline of a vague future where all will be figured out. But just where do we “get” the better? Is it waiting for us … after the election is resolved, once the vaccine is distributed, when the work is validated, as the love is returned? And, if and when all that happens, morning comes, and a new list of daily chores rises with the sun, in order to keep earning our “better.”

Never before have we searched so elusively for the better. Every day, we bear witness to thousands of friends, neighbors and families suffering and dying, while we rummage through the darkness for the “better.” We don our gloves and commit to the heavy lifting, but this year, for so many of us, better remains buried.

The election is over, but democracy is in tatters, the vaccine is coming, but too late for thousands and thousands of people. The love is returned, but the love becomes transactional: if you become this person for me, then my love for you will be returned, and our relationship will be so much, well…better.

As a wise friend recently said, maybe it’s time we “feel the better.”

We mix up a magic elixir that will remedy whatever ails us, and we walk around in a daze, most of the time, wondering why, despite our daily doses, we don’t feel the cure. But what if the cure was in the disease?

Have you ever noticed how much you actually feel when you feel lousy? Conversely, when we are “all better” we immediately pivot: into the grocery list of wants and needs and things to do, for the next hour, or day or week. We become detached from our own state of body and mind.

It’s not enough to feel better, it’s about feeling “the” better, the fact of it, the actuality that better is really a state of enough.

It’s not the simple, nearly impossible, mindfulness of being in the moment that I’m referring to. It’s the simple, nearly impossible mindfulness of being okay with the moment, of feeling the better when you come upon it, without hurdling over it in search of “the best.”

This holiday season definitely won’t be our best, but it could be our better. The magic of Christmas 2020 won’t be the stuff of dreams we try, year after year, to create, but, rather, the reality that we accept.

And maybe, that reality will include, not a “Glorious Chorus of Angels Singing a Hosanna of Alleluias,” but a rough, barnboard sense of gratitude for all we are literally, at this very moment, unwrapping under the proverbial tree of life. And maybe we won’t mind if the presents are not what we asked for, or even what we thought we wanted at all, because they are here, right before us: pint size packages covered in the scraps of last year’s wrapping paper, wrinkled and torn, held together with too much tape.

Gifts from our very own, once very human, guardian angels: those simple shepherds in sack cloth, kinds of Angels; the fumbling, slightly foolish, scrambling to earn their wings, Angels. The ones who keep whispering in our ears, “You see, this really is A Wonderful Life.”

Lift these offerings up to the light. Untie the tattered bow, shake the box a bit, peer inside. Behold: the essential, the just what we need, the can’t do without, the “how did we not see this sooner?”

Right before us, within us: the “best” gift ever; the gift of simply feeling … the better.

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