Sunday, March 10, 2013

Life Lessons

I have had an exceptionally challenging week, with the prospect of (at least) two more to come. I can't elaborate on details, much as I'd like to; the Net has eyes, and they see all. Suffice it to say I have arrived home each day with a steadily increasing understanding of how people just...suddenly...snap.
Being as stability is arguably my most important core value, you can perhaps understand how weeks like this leave me a little seasick.
At times like this, I find myself inhaling positivity wherever I can find it. Which is, of course, everywhere. The love of my wife, a beautiful melody, the smiles of friends...these things are stabilizing and sustaining. 
The bolded quotes below come from the Conversations with God trilogy, by Neale Donald Walsch:
“Know and understand that there will be challenges and difficult times. Don’t try to avoid them. Welcome them. Gratefully. Cultivate the technique of seeing all problems as opportunities. Opportunities to…be, and decide, Who You Really Are.”
This struck me as silly the first few times I read it. Then I started noticing the good things that came out of undeniably bad events. I began to (try, at least, to) take a few steps back and examine the problem in front of me from different angles. Often, the easiest way to defuse a problem situation is to reflect, for just a second, on how many people would love to face the problem I'm facing. There are people, for instance, without jobs. Job stress would probably be welcome in their lives.
“If you want guarantees in life, then you don’t want life. You want rehearsals for a script that’s already been written. Life by its nature cannot have guarantees, or its whole purpose is thwarted.”
This was a hard one for me, because I confess, I do want guarantees in life. I want a guarantee when I get out of bed in the morning that I will face no unpleasant surprises today. The stronger the desire for such a guarantee gets in me, the more unpleasant surprises I tend to face.
The thing is, I am writing my life. You are writing your life...we're all making it up as we go along. It's when we forget we're at cause for the events in our life that we start up the pity party...oh, no, what is happening to me? Life in the passive voice. That's not living, that's dying.
“To live your life without expectation–without the need for specific results–that is freedom. That is Godliness.”
I believe this is a very Buddhist sentiment. The only way I've found to even attempt this is to take whatever's in front of me and (a) accept it; (b) cherish it; and (c) it for what it really is: the next forking point in the road that is my life. How will I react to this challenge? Eventually, I hope that I no longer react at that point I will be proactive, and I won't actually see challenges, only opportunities.
I have a ways to go.
“Never resist anything. If you think that by your resistance you will eliminate it, think again. You only plant is more firmly in place. Have I not told you that all thought is creative?”
This is expressed elsewhere more succinctly:
What you resist persists. -- Carl Jung
Stress is created by resistance to life. I need to remember this daily, sometimes hourly. I loathe the phrase 'it is what it is' --what else would it be, what it isn't?-- and yet there's a real truth in that bit of nonsense that I need to accept. 
Life is what you make it, and life is what you make of it.

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