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That I don’t have to “deserve” the good I desire before I reach for it.
I’ve grappled with whether or not my perspective is selfish, but I realized recently that we have a habit of thinking we have to deserve something before we strive for it or get it. As if there is some arbitrary list written up by the universe of requirements you must meet before you can do whatever it is you desire.
I had a severe accident at 18 years old (drunk driver) and nearly died. I’ve lived in some level of pain every day since. Would anybody argue that I deserved that unfair outcome? I don’t think so.
So… if the universe constantly hands us darkness through no fault of our own, why would we treat ourselves as if we are required to meet some specific conditions before we receive light? This realization struck me recently and had influenced some difficult decisions I’ve made already. I think that so long as your heart is right and you are not hurting or deceiving others, there’s no requirement for you to meet any checklist before you go for it.
I realize that I’ve met a lot of people who regret not “going for” the things they really wanted in life. Many of them in their sunset years. A conversation with a friend the other day made me realize this idea, because I noticed that he was the only one holding himself back all those years. He let perfectionism, fear, and self-righteousness hold him back from the things he really wanted. I don’t want to make those same mistakes with what little time I have.
So I signed up for my masters degree, made a final decision on my desired career trajectory, and suddenly feel more motivated than I have in many months. I lost my mom in a somewhat traumatic way in July (she got sick unexpectedly and was being taken off life support just three days later,) and this realization has helped me finally start moving forward from her loss, I think.
I think it is around discernment. It is very subtle (usually). It is those moment-by-moment things that invite a decision or choice – some leading to growth, some leading to suffering. They sound like big words (growth and suffering), but they try to capture the velocity and direction of the choices that I make. And it is not black and white in the sense of happy choices always leading to positive things. Some of those choices can result in pain. And vice versa.
One recent one from work that applies across many realms: Avoiding something doesn’t actually make it easier to deal with in the long run.
This week’s lesson that yielded this: I tend to avoid one individual because of their prickly personality (as I read it, and I can usually get along with anyone), even though I need to have their expertise for our accounting work. Doing so made some things a lot more complicated than they would have been if I had said early on, “Here’s what we’re planning. Will this work in our system?”
To address this I’ve done a couple of things: Face to face I described what I had done that made things harder for them, told them my lesson learned (that I need to engage early and ask questions), and sincerely apologized. And I set up a regular touch-base meeting so we can review what’s happening, I can provide that early information about our goals and they can provide their expertise, and I’ll establish a relationship that may help me stop regarding them as prickly.
That I’m truly thankful for all of it. The trauma, pain, frustration, fear, and experiences that in the moment feel so difficult, but in the end make me the person that I am. I’m thankful for a childhood that was somewhat lonely, because it taught me how to be ok with myself. The bullies and lack of support, because they taught me resilience. The car accident that nearly killed me at 18 years old, because it taught me to value my life. The pain I still feel daily, because it brings me back into my body and reminds me of gods grace, and the value of second chances.
I started the learning courses on this website this morning. I find that writing poetry is often more therapeutic for me than consuming it used to be. The first lesson made a distinction between the different forms gratitude takes that I’d never realized, despite feeling each in my own life at different times. This mornings poem:
It’s the greatest of them all
Like tripping on your shoelace
And being thankful for the fall
If not for that trip, the ensuing slip
What would this day have brought?
Would I be thankful for soft grass to land?
The reminder to suspend ego and stop?
stop comparing myself to other folks
Those whose feet track straight and true
To remind myself how wondrous it is
To have functional feet and a pair of shoes
A reminder of my fallibility
That perfect, I am not
A reminder to laugh at myself a bit
And to get out of my thoughts
And connect me to the world around
To the earth so constant and true
A reminder of life’s trivialities
And that I’m thankful for them too
An example of my humanity
Of my imperfections, and gods grace
If I can appreciate such a trip and fall
Perhaps the pain is not a waste?
Christopher, this is beautiful! Your post brought joy to my morning. I thank you! What a wonderful writer you are. There are many on this site that always bring poetry to our day, I am glad you are one fo them.
My health is my responsibility, all parts of it. I can not put that responsibility into somebody else’s hands. I can seek help and hope for competent advice, but in the end I have to make the decisions and live with the consequences (good or bad, if there is such a distinction). It is something to keep in mind in my daily practices and decision making. May you all be well in body, mind and spirit.
“Have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart and try to cherish the questions themselves.” Rainer Maria Rilke
What new insights are emerging for me lately? I’m reminded of the importance of “living my questions.” This is not a new insight for me but today’s quote is an “in my face” reminder. You see I spent so many years focusing on a need for “the answer.” When I had “the answer” then I could live.
Then I had what I call “a blinding glimpse of the obvious.” I was getting older and “the answer” was not manifesting so I changed my focus. I no longer sought “the answer.” The question moved from “Why me?” and the lament from “If only” to “What do I know for sure, anyway?” When I no longer focused on “the answer,” I became teachable. I could live my questions instead of waiting for answers.
I learned that my job was willingness. I began to understand that to have faith is not about believing man-made dogma. It’s about learning that Life is trustworthy and so am I. The God of my Understanding is an evolutionary God that says “I am with you always” with every breath I take.
Thank you Carol! Powerful!!
I guess I am learning that there is a
cyclical nature, or maybe an ebb and flow
to insights, and pretty much everything.
I find comfort in the knowledge,
that everything is temporary,
change is constant, and resistance is futile.
So true Charlie T.
My husband is experiencing some major health issues. I am gaining new insights daily as how I react to stress and worry. I am realizing all the supportive comments I give to others must be given to me by me. My faith and sense of trust are tested. “Hanging in” and “Take care of yourself” are easy phrases but very hard to accomplish.
“Am I treating myself the way I would treat a best friend?” I picked that up somewhere and it definitely helped me realize we’re much quicker to tell others to rest or to forgive them than we are to do the same for ourselves.
How much my soul needs a daily period of quiet.
A needed reminder. Thank you for this, Laura. I live alone and am fairly quiet in my living space. But to go deeper with this, to pay attention to soul-quiet is something different altogether.
As of late, my limited time on this Earth, has come to me more than once. Not in a morbid way at all, rather as a reminder to be clear around my intentions at this time, and to take care of business that will enhance my remaining years, be it physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Thank you each for being part of my tending to all those areas of my life. Now if we could all go for a walk together…
Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Based on hard lessons in my own family and for my daughter’s with their dad’s family after he died I have “legal” on the list of things I need to take care of. I have a very old will that needs to be updated and some other things. I know I’ll feel better when it’s done and it will enhance not only my remaining years, but what happens for my daughters after I’m gone.
The impact of letting go is making a huge impact on my life! I’m so much more grateful and at ease now than I ever have . My expectations, worries, greed, and fears are all disappearing. I am so much more grateful naturally due to allowing the false narrative of ideas and beliefs go! They are all rooted in falsehood and I’m eternally thankful and blessed. Thank you 🙏
I’m reading the difference between leucistic vs albino gators… Gatorland had a rare leucistic gator born there in August. Here is the link – such an adorable pic of her too
Interesting! Thanks for sharing.
Self-care is of utmost importance especially during this time of the year.
Maybe not emerging lately but more front and center. As I have been practicing gratitude, daily meditation, living in the present and practicing nonjudgement, I begin to notice the agitation, shortness, worry, and second guessing of self, displayed by a some of my loved ones. My observance of this increases to above normal levels with the countdown to Christmas. There are many articles this year that I have read that deal with how to cope with the “stress and stressors” of the season. What happened to Peace on Earth and Good Will? I began this path of self-improvement to alleviate my addiction to alcohol. I feel much more mentally stable and content every day, not just for the “season”. Maybe that should be the crux of the message for folks experiencing stress due to the Christmas barrage. A way to live for every day.
Thank you for the insight.
Now that the holidays are upon us, I can’t help but notice that the season of merriment and good cheer brings with it considerable stress, worry, and excess spending for lots of people. One wonders, how did we get here?
You are so right. Thanks for pointing this out. One benefit to old age – and there aren’t many – is that we get off the hook. Gift cards for the children and grandchildren, and that’s it. My husband and I agreed a few years ago not to exchange gifts with each other. We are divesting, not accumulating.
There is a spiritual sickness in the land, and capitalism is an integral part of that.
Wow Dolores, I love your action plan! My wife still enjoys greatly getting gifts for each of our seven grandchildren….but I’m with you here….because my wife knows that if it was left up to me, it would be gift cards, and given with love, period! I’m also a lousy shopper, so I’m doing the family a favor by not shopping for gifts for any of them!
We too stopped by gifts for each other a few years ago, though my wife steaks what amounts to buying me gifts of clothing that she decides I need now and then!
One word: capitalism.
Absolutely. There is something wrong with a system that requires ever-increasing purchase and consumption of “stuff” to survive. It may have served us during our period of industrialization, but clearly it no longer does.
My one daughter, Kerry, is a minimalist and really likes gifts to be of an activity or she had done away with paper towels and uses reusable cotton towels. I’m proud of her as she always sets such a good example.
Good question Kevin! Maybe capitalism? Pushing people with their pictures to buy a life to try to make themselves happy .
Yes! I wrote my reply before seeing yours, Antoinette, and said it’s capitalism. The push to never consider what you have to be enough because that way they can sell you things; the “perfectionism” standards people beat themselves up for not attaining without ever realizing they’ll still be their same selves even if they organize their pantry with things in pretty containers; the working conditions and pay for those who keep those stores open late or pack plastic throwaways and ship them so we can run more trucks down my street to turn the temperature up on the planet just a bit more…..
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