We all grow up around it so none of us really notices. If it weren’t for my accident I’m sure I wouldn’t have noticed it either, and yet there’s the secret of living right in front of you and yet it’s still difficult to recognize because you’ve spent your entire life being primarily trained by a lot of other egos.
Those egos created all kinds of words and concepts for you to use to build your expectations. For instance, you could have a partner or spouse but those words sound like nouns don’t they? Partner has a verb too, but spouse doesn’t even give you that flexibility. It’s a title not an activity. Which is why it feels like it isn’t something in motion; like something dynamic–like something that could change.
A job, feeling included as a member of your family, even our health can easily be lost and yet few of us live as though that is true. So for instance an employee will get so focused on their complaints that they’ll forget to keep track of whether they are actually worth fixing the issues for, just as a sad or angry partner in life can have legitimate reasons for struggling but at a certain point they have simply become a primarily a sad or angry person to their partner. Then the attraction that forms the basis of any relationship slowly deteriorates until that day you’re told it’s gone.
Our immediate reactions to these events is to assess them as both bad and repairable. We don’t assume getting fired is good news, nor do we imagine when someone leaves us that it’s happy news. We don’t want to have to find work. We don’t want to risk the unknown and date again because we’re not at all sure we’re going to meet someone better. No, that is not what we do.
What we do is we want. We want things to go back to the way they were. Our book was written in ink and we’re not interested in late, unauthorized edits. What we’ve forgotten is that we’re not the only person writing the book of our life.
The tension in these situations exists due to the time and distance between our old set of definitions for our lives and the new set. Rather than enthusiastically functioning with the freedom of no identity, we strictly focus on getting our old identity back. That’s why the healthiest breakups are mutual. The others all involve a tension of someone trying to return to a definition that the other people refuse to agree to. They rewrote that over time. They just can’t write it back immediately because we want them to.
The people who initiate that change feel fine because they have escaped. They used to feel tension about the distance between the actions and the definition but now that they’ve severed the idea of the connection they’ve now lost some dead weight. The other party still has the old idea, held in place by narratives about how it should be. Those narratives and their lack of relationship to reality are what constitutes the pain people feel. We feel the tension of the gap.
Acceptance is when we sever our ties to a definition and we accept whatever Is. We don’t pine for something else. We don’t want or wish or hope or believe. We don’t do anything. In the best case scenario we don’t even use our thinking to create an individual that could experience a loss. Because until we quiet those conversations down we will experience the tension of not ever fully being where we actually are.
Life is easier than you think. You just have to surrender your ideas about how you want it to be and instead just let it unfold and then watch for its gifts. So rather than waste your lifetime spinning in place wishing things were otherwise, try seeing where you end up by just reacting to what’s actually happening in the moments that are you in. Do that and you’ll be surprised at how great a life can be if you simply stop trying to make it your own.
Much love, s
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.