"Only in the darkness, can you see the stars." ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place." ~ J. Lynn
One thing that continues to be true of life, is that it’s full of surprises, always. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made plans that have fallen down, mid flight, before they ever really had the chance to go anywhere. Well, I should rephrase, before they had the chance to go where I wanted them to. It’s been countless, to say the least. What I can tell you, is that whenever my plans have fallen through, if I was paying attention, there was always something to be learned, something beautiful to be gained. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about life, it’s this: there appears to be value interlaced among our perceived missteps, silver linings within every cloud, amidst every stormy sky.
While I often like to think I know what’s best for me, the truth is, I’m often wrong. Life itself, tends to have much more of a say in the unfolding and happenings of my life, than I do. That is, to clarify, life has much more of a say than the I that likes to make all the plans, and hold all the attachments. Honestly, I remain quite thankful for this. It’s as if Mother Nature herself has a built in safety mechanism, one that saves me from the path I thought I wanted, and redirects me toward the one I’m meant to be on. Often, she guides me towards the untrodden path, dimly lit, and overgrown with those beautiful flowering weeds. You know the kind, the pretty ones we pluck from our gardens, beautiful, but just too unruly for our liking. It’s this path, the one that dances amidst the densely packed trees, dripping with silence, this path, that’s calling me home.
"We are the silver lining in any and every dark cloud we could ever find. There is no need to go looking for the light when you bring it with you." ~ Tyler Knott Gregson
It’s only when I’m in a state of allowing, when I’m aligned with the ways of nature and it’s unpredictability, that this path is shown to me. When the path is obscured, when it can’t be seen through the mud of my thoughts and misguided expectations, when I’m determined to have my own way, no matter the resistance, or the cost, I feel trapped. Stifled. Weak. I feel as though I’m walking aimlessly through the thick fog on an early morning, troubled. It’s times like these that I am forced to be still. To stop, to recalibrate, to clear my mind and tap into my hearts truest longings. For this, I am also grateful. Once again, the universe saves me from myself, for it is only when I’m much less concerned with controlling my life, and the way it works out, that it actually works out for the best. Talk about paradoxical.
Sometimes we look back on the past with longing. We wish to experience the wildness of our youth, the swift recovery after the long night, the one where we stayed up too late and arose too early, but felt energized by the adventure, nonetheless. It’s never occurred to us that we are to age, in order to experience all the variety that life has to offer, that with each phase of our lives, comes an exquisite fullness, a rich amalgam. possibility abounding. You see, there’s no point in wishing we could go back, that we could bring forth, from the past, a different version of ourselves. There’s no growth in wishing for the youthfulness of the swift recovery after the long night, that time has come and passed. It’s in looking back on the experiences of our lives that we are able to appreciate our own wonder. It’s in the reflection, the appreciation of where we have arrived in the present, this is where growth resides. Not there, but here. It isn’t often that one experience changes us, although it can, but more often than not, we are changed by the culmination of experiences, the vast richness of life, and the moments we’ve had to touch it.
"There are always flowers for those who want to see them." ~ Henri Matisse
At times, it feels as if we take two steps forward and one step back, but I think I’d make the case that we only take steps forward — for there is no going back. We aren’t the same people we were last week, yesterday, an hour ago. In moments when you feel as if you’ve been walking backwards, hold your head high, feel your heart as it beats. steady. Find the music between the notes, collapsing in the deep silence, follow your breath and hear these words: it’s okay, forgive yourself. For with every passing moment we experience, with every glimpse of new insight, with every breath we take, and beat of our heart, we’re changed. For this, we may always be grateful.
I asked a friend today what he thought about rewriting history; the thought came to me based on a discussion we had had previously, one about the discomfort of truthfulness. These days especially, we see an amplification of people not wanting to face things that make them uncomfortable, whether it be in their own minds or in the world around them. While I do understand this, and see it as a natural aversion to discomfort, biologically engineered within our psyche, I also know we have the neurological power within our highly developed prefrontal cortex, to override this. We have the ability to move through a healthy amount of discomfort, rather than away, and it’s this that gives me hope. The hope that maybe one day we can hear differing opinions, and see various expressions of being, and that we can do so with a little more compassion, and a little more understanding, for all of our fellow earthlings.
"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow." ~ Helen Keller
In life we often see the whole reflected in its parts, the large resembled in the small. For instance, when we look at rewriting history, we come face to face with the choice of telling things as they were, or telling them as we wished they had been. This means telling part of the truth, but maybe not telling the full truth, at least not with the full weight of its cruelty and brutality, my God, we wouldn’t want to make anybody feel. uncomfortable. The issue here, the way I see it, is that when we don’t tell the truth, we risk missing the lesson. This, as it relates to the topic of history, can be catastrophic. In my humble opinion, to risk missing the importance of a lesson, in order to maintain either individual or collective comfortability, is to pay too high a price.
This idea is also seen on a much smaller scale in life, a much more personal scale, individually experienced, with a collective importance. When we choose to lie to avoid discomfort, we deny ourselves and those involved the opportunity to see the real challenge in the situation. We blind them, and thus blind ourselves, we inhibit our opportunity to grow and evolve, we deny ourselves the transformative power of a truthful interaction. For instance, if I tell someone that I don’t want to continue a relationship because I’m busy, but the truth is there was something that didn’t feel right for me, then I take from them the opportunity to properly reflect on the situation. Offering the truth has the chance to give both parties new insight for growth, and proper reflection for learning. To take this from someone, to “spare their feelings,” to avoid any awkwardness, or discomfort that could be experienced by either party, this is quite simply, to act extremely small, and to disrespect the inherent greatness in each individual. Who are we to say that we are responsible for “sparing” such feelings in said situations? Isn’t it more likely that we are simply reacting from fear? Isn’t this an example of us trying to control an outcome and take away another’s freedom? Do we run from the truthful exchange, clutching our fear, not wanting to be brave? Does it not hurt someone more to lie than tell a harmless, but uncomfortable truth? I’ll tell you one thing, the people that have told me the truth, even when it was hard for me to hear, even when it hurt me, or I disagreed, or I felt they had waited too long to tell me, even though they may not have always retained my friendship, they’ll always have my respect.
"Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose." ~ Lyndon B. Johnson
These concepts of truthfulness and discomfort have meant a lot to me these last few weeks. I’ve found myself being tested, and quite aggressively at that. Thank goodness, I’m rising to the occasion more readily these days, it’s definitely something I’m grateful for. I have a pattern, an unhealthy and self deprecating pattern, one in which I would like to be free from. You see, my pattern is that I feel obligated to make everyone as comfortable as possible, everyone except, well, me. Often, and historically speaking, I will choose to make myself uncomfortable if it means I’m sparing another discomfort, and I do so by being more accommodating. This is not sweet, or kind, or truly caring even — it’s cowardly. Historically, I’ve been too afraid to stand up for myself unless it’s been survival and I’ve felt that I absolutely had to. What’s interesting, is I have never had a problem standing up for another, but I guess that goes back to being accommodating. So anyway, this week I’ve been having to stand up for myself and speak clearly. What I have found interesting is that even when you do have the courage to speak clearly the first time, people often ignore your voice, well, my voice, and then I have to stand my ground and speak clearly. again.
This has been the process over the last few weeks, but this last week, I was presented with my biggest and most surprising challenge. I had started a podcast with someone I called a friend, and I had discovered that the foundation of our friendship had been built on false information and unnecessary lies. When in a situation like that, previously, I would have wanted to get to the bottom of it, to find out how deep the lies went, where they stemmed from and why they were told. I would want to hear a justification, a reason behind why I had been lied to and wronged. This time was different, once I discovered that something was very wrong, it didn’t really matter what the justification was to me. Quite simply, the situation was what it was. I couldn’t make it different, I couldn’t go back and stop myself from feeling like I had gotten close to this person, I couldn’t take back that I trusted them, and that I did so naively, and I surely couldn’t go back to who I was before, for that was no longer me. In the process of the whole ordeal, I had changed, somehow, despite the letdown, I’d become better. The only thing I could do, the only thing in my power at that present moment, was my voice. I was being afforded the opportunity to be honest with this person, and then, to move on with my life. You see, I’ve been lied to a lot, I’m sure we all have, it seems to follow right alongside being human. This time I responded differently though, I felt different, and I’m proud of myself for it. I wasn’t angry, I was strong. I didn’t allow the awkwardness, or the discomfort of confrontation, to force me into being accommodating. I respected my needs, and upheld my desire for honesty to be reflected, in all areas of my life. I took a stand, and I stood by me. When we make a decision to value honesty in life, and actively pursue it in others, we inevitably have to be an example of such honesty ourselves. This isn’t an easy thing to do. The reason I’m so elated by how I chose to handle this situation, is that I had the courage to choose me this week, and to forego accommodation for truth. For this, I’m extremely proud.
Now, my points may seem tangential, but I promise you, they’ll come full circle. Give it a chance. ;)
"Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power." ~ William James
I recommended a book to a friend a while back, Power vs Force by David R. Hawkins (honestly it’s phenomenal — go read it), and he sent me a message this week inquiring on what I think of win-win situations, lose-lose situations, and win-lose situations. He told me he had been reading the book and reflecting on his life, the situations he had experienced and where he had allowed himself to be controlled by force, rather than embracing the embodiment of inherent power. I thought about it some, jotted down some notes, and then it hit me — what a perfect topic to discuss this week, especially considering the situation I mentioned earlier, with regard to the podcast. So without further ado, here we go, my thoughts on these situations we tend to find ourselves in.
Situations: win-lose lose-lose win-win
Personally, on this topic, my first thought is that all situations have the potential to be any of these variations, depending on your individual perspective and outlook. Our individual mindset more often than not, dictates the ways in which we see the world, and those we perceive as interacting in it. Within our inherent free will, resides an incredible responsibility. We have the opportunity to waste our experiences, if we so choose. Now, I say waste not to be negative, I think that no opportunity or situation, no matter how positive or negative it may feel, remains wasted. We can choose to miss a lesson, but inevitably, we are then presented with a new one, which often attempts to make use of our previous one, and thus, the cycle continues — offering us again and again the chance to revisit experiences we have previously thrown out, to find healing, and thus render them ever so useful. At any point in time, we can choose differently, we can use our previously wasted experiences, and we can transform them into life’s most beautiful lessons, if only we have the desire to form new eyes, eyes to see rightly.
"The thing that lies at the foundation of positive change, the way I see it, is service to a fellow human being." ~ Lee Iacocca
win-lose, and lose-lose situations.
When we’re coming from a place of fear and force, we’re much more likely to see the situations that present themselves to us from either a win-lose perspective, or a lose-lose perspective. This is because we primarily choose to see fear and inequality in the world. In a win-lose situation, we either come from a place of pride where we see ourselves as the winner, or we come from a place of shame, where see ourselves as the loser. There is an inherent inequality in this belief, somebody in the equation is seen as better off, or more advantaged than the other. In a lose-lose situation, we come from a place of despair as we perceive ourselves as the loser and try and make ourselves feel better, by condemning the other alongside us. Again, this embodies an inequality, we see ourselves as defeated and so we can’t help but see the other as defeated also, or vice versa. In either of these situations we are focusing on an inequality and a perceived weakness, somebody we assume, is worse off after the situation unfolds.
Sometimes we even want situations to be lose-lose, or win-lose. Sometimes we feel that we have been so wronged that it wouldn’t be fair for the other person to gain anything positive from the experience, or sometimes we feel so hurt that we refuse to acknowledge any pieces of wisdom that may have been gleaned from our heartbreak. When this is the case, we can be assured that we are coming from a place of ego — fear, lack, anger, a place of vengeance. This is characteristic of force, which is the desire to control and manipulate, arising from the perceived “need” to have our way with the world. The one thing to take note of, is that this may work, temporarily, but like all great things, power never succumbs to force, just as love will never bow to fear. Until the lesson is learned, it is likely that it will keep presenting itself, in a variety of situations that are often accompanied by similar feelings. This is often the perpetual cycle that we find ourselves in, searching blindly in a dark room, for the key to our freedom, all the while neglecting to realize it’s been placed in our very own hands.
"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." ~ Winston Churchill
When we’re coming from a place of love and true power, we are able to see that regardless of outcome, all situations have the potential to be win-win. As I mentioned at the opening of this writing, every situation presents us the opportunity for growth and learning. Often we are shown what we don’t want, so that we may have a clearer image of that in which we do want, and may pursue this vision with a new clarity, and a refreshed desire. Every situation offers both parties the gift of growth and learning. After all, some of my most challenging life experiences have been the most fundamental in my personal development, as an individual. Everybody learns, or has the opportunity to learn, whether they do or not depends on their perspective and subsequent choice.
So, when presented with a situation where you have an opportunity to speak, no matter how uncomfortable, I hope you choose to speak the truth. When presented with experiences that are not as you imagined they would be, when you’re feelings are mixed with hurt and disappointment, amongst others, I hope that you choose to develop the sight to see the lesson, when you do so, I assure you, the blessings are bountiful.
When you feel lost amidst the fog, trembling, cold with confusion, I hope you stop. I hope you breathe. Remember my dear, the present is where your power is. Presence is the bridge upon which we are afforded the opportunity to change our feelings and ideas about the past, make our best decisions, from a centered place, here, in the now, and alter the trajectory of our future, in the best possible way. To be fearless does not mean to be without fear, it means to have the courage to walk through the arena, amidst the clouds of dust, broken and battered by life, to stand one last time, as the dimly lit path beckons you to get back up.