I've managed to get through the flu and get off the couch........nothing can make you more grateful for your health than a bout with an illness. I SO appreciate to be on the mend now.' While I was down with the flu I had little to do but hang out watching stuff on my laptop.........I watched every single episode of Jerry Seinfeld's 'Comedians in cars getting coffee'. I am a big fan of Seinfeld. I grew up in New York, a couple of towns from where Jerry grew up, so we share a similar kind of childhood. What really impressed me about the show is that Jerry is essentially doing what we all did as kids, call up a friend, "wanna hang out, go goof off somewhere?" Then he hangs out with these interesting, usually funny characters, often in diners. That's pretty much what I did a lot of as a kid growing up on Long Island, hanging out with friends, in diners, laughing. He laughs a lot, he's enjoying his life. Certainly, he has fame and fortune, but lots of people have that and are miserable. He's choosing to enjoy life. He said, "life is supposed to be FUN." For me, it was a huge reminder of what we discussed in another thread about suffering being optional......... life is to be lived, to be appreciated, to be celebrated, to have fun. I've had a lot of challenges in my life, suffice to say, it was serious "stuff" which buried me in responsibility and duty and pushed me into a lot of therapy trying to make sense of it all and recover from it....... and often squeezed the joy out of life. But underneath all of that, was this person, much like Jerry Seinfeld, who could see the humor and the irony, who was wanting to laugh and be lighthearted...and I think in spite of a lot, I was in fact, lighthearted and laughed easily........I always sought out people who made me laugh. But, geez, things were just so serious, a crazy, dysfunctional bio family, a crazy dysfunctional ex-husband, a crazy dysfunctional daughter.......whats' funny about that? I also watched all the episodes of a reality show on National Geographic called Life below zero. It's about these people who live in Alaska, they hunt their own food, live in isolated places, they have hard lives, very different from mine in every single way, except for their desire to be free, to be independent of circumstances where they have to answer to anyone. They all call their lives adventurous and fun. I love their attitudes and so respect the choices they've made to live these incredibly difficult lives so that they can, essentially, be free. I also relate that. While I was recovering from my crazy life, I was always trying out different lifestyles in order to respect my very strong drive to be......free. TV viewing offering life lessons for me. I love that. Something came together for me while I lay on the couch watching these two shows..........the recognition of my own deep desire to be free and to have fun. As Helen Keller said, "Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." In between my enabling and my own craziness, I have made a lot of attempts to live that way. And, now that I have 'cleared the decks' so to speak, I am free to go have that fun. Without the encumbrances and responsibilities of all of that 'suffering'.........life is not free of pain, but I can choose it to be free of suffering. It gives me such a feeling of expansion and possibility. I used to perceive much of life as a responsibility, to move through what was in front of me until I got to the other side.......however, there is always stuff to move through....to work out..........it's simply a part of what is......... but I can fill up huge amounts of open space with freedom and fun. This is how I want to live now. This is a new kind of thinking for me.........it feels like I've been trying to get to this inner me for a long time, this free spirit self, this lighthearted self, this person who wants to have more of those playful adventures.....even when life throws me a couple of curve balls, even when I could be suffering......but, I don't think I will...........I see it so differently now, that 'choice' factor.........I can choose my response to life........and I am choosing freedom and I am choosing fun. I've been doing a lot of practicing of living in the moment, staying in the now. One of the results, as was indicated in the books I've been reading and the CD's and videos I've been watching and listening to, about how to stay present, how to be still, how to let go of the past and keep my thoughts as neutral as possible, is that gratitude seeps in as a more natural state of mind...............and that has happened and it brings with it a lot of peacefulness. I am aware that there is a lot of struggle and pain in the world, I am not discounting or minimizing that. There is a lot of that on this forum..........none of that can be denied. I am only speaking of my own journey to a different perception of that pain and struggle in my own life and how it in fact, has lead me to a different way of looking at it and experiencing it. I am not, in any way, shape or form, making any statement about how hard life is right now for many of us........ and how it can take you to the end of the cliff where you really do want to jump off........I've been there, I've wanted to jump off........ I know that devastation, in many different forms............I am talking about my own transition from having that devastation define my life or lead me to a place which offers me a new possibility to live a different way.........it's my way........not THE way. Buddha said, "the only difference between fear and excitement is breath." Somehow, the fear has subsided in a way which allows me to have that excitement, that awe of life, the recognition of the sheer preciousness of each and every moment and how I can choose to see that beauty, see that grace, experience the wonder and ........really, enjoy it and have fun. husband was looking at a trip to China last night and we've been pondering whether we "should" take the opportunity to go........it's funny to watch my thoughts..........can I really just take off and go have even more fun? Can I allow myself yet another vacation, is that allowed? Will my frivolity somehow lessen my also deep need to be of service, to be on my own spiritual path? Can I let myself have THAT MUCH FUN? It's a weird push and pull of moving into this new land of lightness........... is it okay?....... will there be a consequence, is there a payment for joy? Old conditioning still peaks it's head in.............but I'm gonna move through that old voice............freedom and fun..........yes.