May 13, 2018
I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a memoir. I haven’t gotten very far. I got caught up in the idea that what seems most important to me at the moment is not what I have done, or been through, but rather what I have learned. As I was playing with that idea, these are some of the thoughts that bubbled up.
- It’s not what happens, it’s how you handle it.
In spite of our incessant search for happiness, much of life is messy and decidedly not what we would call happy making. Amor fati is a Latin term meaning ‘love of fate’. In essence, it says: whatever comes at you, love it, embrace it , and move forward from there. Life will hand you all kinds of stuff that you don’t prefer, but if you want to live fully until you die, don’t let resistance to what you’re handed stop you from living.
- You can’t be more than you are.
We can’t pretend ourselves beyond our own evolution. We are constantly growing and evolving, but we haven’t arrived. Nor will we in this lifetime. Sometimes, though, we think we should have, so we pretend to be further along than we are. That sets up an internal conflict. And makes us hard to love, because everyone else can see that we aren’t ‘all that’, even though we wish we were, and we’re trying too hard to look like we are. Relax, you are enough.
- Focus on being a friend, and you can stop worrying about getting them.
I spent much of my life hoping to have lots of friends. Until I realized that if I simply allowed myself to love, accept and enjoy the people who showed up, friendships seemed to develop much more easily than when I was trying so hard to find them. It isn’t always easy, for me or for them. But developing friendships as an adult may be the most worthwhile and satisfying effort I’ve ever put into anything besides parenting.
- Take yourself less seriously.
I’m talking about taking all of it less seriously. Your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and ideas. I had a college professor who challenged the class to question everything we believed. He encouraged us to question everything we had been treating as a fact, when in reality it was simply an idea that someone had dumped into our brain at some point. It was all fair game. It was the most satisfying semester of my school experience. A few years ago I sent him a thank you letter. Anyone you want to thank?
- No one is who you think they are.
No one is as one-dimensional as they at times appear. Nor are you! We are complex creatures all wanting very much similar things. We want to feel loved, valued, safe, and understood. Behind our rough and sometimes shoddy exteriors we are more similar than dissimilar. I suspect I’ll get some arguments on this one, especially in our current political climate. But I stand behind it, even now. We are so much more than we think. Believing that keeps me excited about meeting you. I get that this may sound contradictory to # 2, but in actuality they can live together peacefully.
- You can experience a whole world of feelings without acting on any of them.
Learning to observe our thoughts and emotions has the potential to bring us a peace of mind that nothing else can offer. Once we learn to observe ourselves, we’re only a step away from deciding which thoughts and feelings deserve our attention, and which don’t. It’s the hungry wolf story … who wins in the end, the good wolf or the bad wolf? Whichever one you feed.
I’ll end with how I came by the image for this post. I think that we human beings, you and I, are so much more than we’ve allowed ourselves to imagine. Hold that thought close to your heart. I think it may be my most important learning so far. A new, dear friend had the words from the image for this post engraved on a bracelet to remind me of who I am when I get scared and forget. I think they’re worth repeating:
Fate whispers to the warrior
“You cannot withstand the storm”,
And the warrior whispers back,
“I am the storm.
I hope you’ll take a moment to come up with, and share, a few of your own most important learnings. The things that remain true and support you in moving forward, in spite of being things that you never asked for, in spite of fear, and in spite of not knowing exactly where you’re going.