Whether you are (like me) in the camp that celebrates for any little reason at all, or whether you tend to sneer at people who make everything a silly reason to celebrate, or somewhere in between, it can hardly be argued that there is a sort of special charge in the air on Leap Day, Feb 29, which only happens every 4 years.
I might truly just be a silly rabbit, romanticizing this arbitrary event that was invented by humans to account for the vagaries of attempting to define the spacetime continuum in calendar form. After all, it really is rather a strange thing to "celebrate." It's hardly a holiday, more like a glitch in the matrix.
But hey! There is this weird cool thing that humans invented that accounts for the vagaries of attempting to define the spacetime continuum in calendar form! It only happens every 4 years, but NOT at the same time as the Olympics! How strange is that! Why didn't they line that up better? Whatever, doesn't matter, I love our bizarro world!
I relish the charge in the air that signifies that something unusual is happening. As a child, who was very sensitive to energies but didn't always know what what actually going on, I would feel the electric current of something unusual rippling around me on days like today. Something that was normally quiet and sleepy was awake in people. They would pause, shake their heads, and laugh as they wrote a check in the supermarket, or filled out a form requiring the date. The teacher would make a big to-do about explaining Leap Year as she wrote "Feb 29" on the chalkboard. Supposition would abound amongst the other children about, "What would you do if, like, today was your birthday? You'd only have a birthday every four years! So even when you are, like, 8 you'd technically only be 2 years old! Bwahahahaha!"
And later in life, I DID meet a woman who was born on Feb 29, and we happily celebrated her 6th birthday, complete with party hats and Sesame Street cake, in a bar. Bizarro world! I love it!
The reason I like that charge in the air is because it signifies that more people than usual are tuned in to the reality of RIGHT NOW. An unusual circumstance gives us a reason to be more present, rather than staying stuck in the beep...beep...beep of everyday routines. There are whole parts of our brains and consciousness that we tend to set to autopilot in our workaday lives: alarm goes off, take shower, feed the kids, get kids ready, drive to school, drive to work, sit at desk, fill out paperwork, check Facebook, think about dinner, pick up kids, pick up groceries, go home, cook, watch TV, go to bed. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Most of the time, our invisible routines (that is to say, the things we set to autopilot in our minds) don't include art, poetry, beauty, fluffy tutus, champagne, tiaras, or a sense of celebration. There is nothing really celebratory about a yellow post-it note stuck to the fridge that says "Defrost the chicken at 7 am on Tuesday morning." Not much special to pay attention to in that. Or is there? What if you came home and your partner had put a tutu on the chicken? Then would it be special?
It could be special, even without the tutu. In fact, everything is special when you approach it with mindfulness. Mindfulness is about paying attention to EVERYTHING. At first, it seems exhausting because our minds try to cling to everything we pay attention to, to hold on to it or own it or account for it in some way. But clinging is not sustainable. That is not the goal of mindfulness, to have an exhaustive level of clinging attention to everything. Instead, you have to learn to pay deep, focused attention and totally let go all at once. The goal (and arguably, the practice of being mindful itself is the ongoing goalless goal) is to be awake, aware, and alert to all of the beauty, poetry, and miraculous phenomenon of everyday life.
Mindfulness is whispering, "I appreciate you so much for taking out the garbage" as I heard the truck pull up to the curb this morning, and the used cat litter went into its maw. I hugged my husband who made little happy noises and went back to sleep. He won't remember that this happened when he wakes up, but he will have generally positive feelings about himself and his day. Mindfulness is placing a special pillow on the shoe bench under the window so my little girl cat Artemis has a cushy perch from which she can lord over the three big boy cats with a ferocious joy. Mindfulness is paying attention to the little embarrassing sticker on employee's name badge that says, "I'm new" and then complimenting them on their speed and accuracy in the transaction.
Mindfulness is about creating the opportunity, by changing nothing other than our attention and intention, to light up the world an extra 100 or more times per day with small gestures, words, prayers, and bits of electric energy that send the message: Every day is ripe for the unusual.
My amazing friend of over 20 years, Angelina, and several of her wild, wise cohorts, have created a project designed to bring the energy of the unusual into everyday life more often, through laughter, performance art, and tutus. Their project, The Purposefully Ridiculous Network, offers people ideas, suggestions, and inspiration for adding more color, texture, flavor, and outrageousness to the world. They have all kinds of fun, funky things they are doing, such as tutu parades at the mall, church in the grocery store, and interviews with a host of wacky characters. Their Mission Statement reads:
"Purposefully Ridiculous are celebrants of joyful self expression. Our mission is to foster freedom by engaging in acts of the ridiculous on purpose. We change the world by encouraging others to spread their silly and share the shine.
Join us and share your shine today."