You don’t know your life as well as you think you do because you’ve never stopped to truly figure out how you came to experience the things you enjoy. Mothers forget the pains of childbirth when they look into the eyes of the children they love. People experiencing a triumph at work may forget that they only got there by being fired from their previous job, or because they quit one they didn’t like. You forget that many of your closest friends were met in classes you claim were awful. Even teams that lose championships bring about friendships that last a lifetime.
Your life isn’t good sometimes and bad sometimes. Your life is your life. You’re either being in the moment or you’re fighting the existence of the moment but that is your only real struggle. Your value judgments only have value in the particular moment you make them because, again, the terrible class at school could be what introduced you to your best friend—or even your spouse.
I’ve used the analogy before—your life is like a river. Time to you is like a raft on the river. It’s the position from which you judge the river. So within the confines of your raft of thoughts the rapids may have felt like a dangerous, treacherous patch of life and yet once you’re further down the river you may look back at that section as very exciting and life-affirming. So your opinions of sections of the river of life can vary widely. Danger becomes fun. Fun becomes calm. Calm becomes boring. Boring becomes safe. Safe becomes dangerous and yet still life is life just as the river is the river.
People want Enlightenment. They want the peace and equanimity that comes with that discovery but they want it in a fast food kind of way, as though I could do all of their meditating for them; as though I could meditate and then just write down the nugget of truth and save them some time, but that would be like saying I could go to the gym for you. Me working out won’t make your muscles larger. You need to exercise them yourself.
So stop being so fatalistic. Stop throwing in the towel so early. Stop spending your time in your car angry at other drivers and start spending it trying to truly understand why it is you are angry. Meditation isn’t difficult but it is something you have to see real value in before you will do it. So here’s an easy one for your drive, or the walk in your golf game, or your wait in line: take some time and actually think back to the origins of your life.
Think back to where things spawned. In doing so you will do as the Buddha did and you will recognise the concept of causality. You will see that the lines of division between good and bad are merely thought-barriers that exist only within your consciousness. There is no border between the ideas that math class is terrible versus the idea that math class is where you met your spouse. The world is a braid of inter-dependant existence and the experience of your life is made of your choices regarding which strands you chose to follow.
If we didn’t break up we couldn’t find love. If we didn’t get angry we couldn’t calm down. If we didn’t get hurt we couldn’t offer sincere empathy to another. Everything is connected. The borders are in your head. Without them; All simply Is.
Take some time to really meditate on your life. You’ll find lots of examples of where getting what you wanted created a terrible experience and you’ll find lots of examples where not getting what you wanted was a fortunate experience. So stop trying to figure out what you truly want. Stop fighting what is. We are all far too small to ever be able to truly comprehend meaning in the universe. So surrender the idea of trying to find a good, safe, happy path and instead just be present on the path you’re on, because we don’t create happiness with our choices, we discover happiness with our awareness.
Enjoy your day.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.