This is the second assignment from the course mentioned in the previous post. The session itself was entitled, Navigating Uncertainty, and the main message of the lesson was not necessarily that we need take any action, nor that we can passively expect something to come our way, but that we are more likely to act ‘when we make peace with the truth‘. The assignment, therefore, was this:
Pick an intractable situation in your life, a situation that is intolerable in some way, that doesn’t align with who you want to become. […] And then ask yourself, “OK, what’s true?”
The two areas which arose immediately when I considered this assignment were health and work. My initial reaction was to look past them for something else, but they seemed to move deliberately each time, as if doing their best to block my view, so here goes.
My body hurts, and I fall short of being able to push my work out into the world. The truth of both is that there is a part of me which feels they should have resolved themselves by now. I’ve worked hard enough over the years: 2,399 consecutive days of exercise, and 1,134 blog posts on my website. I should have succeeded by now. (Whatever that means!)
There is arrogance in that thinking. Expectation and attachment, too. And there is a lack of acceptance and appreciation of how good things actually are. In the writing of this piece, I have been strongly reminded of my time with Karaj, and have reached back into my archives for help, inspiration, and reminders of what he always used to tell me.
It’s almost seven years since I began my current run of daily exercises. I have looked after myself pretty well in that time, and yet I still wake up each morning in pain. Every step I take hurts in some way – if not physically then psychologically because I torture myself with thoughts about how difficult it might become as I get older; that I could/should have taken my health more seriously in the past; that for a long time I used my pain to reinforce my victimhood (and probably still do), and that, given the work I have done, why have I not been rewarded?
But I have been rewarded. I’m in good shape. And there is further reward awaiting me if I can honour what I wrote in the 2003 entry, Using All The Resources:
Pain in every step. I noticed that when I grimaced and wished an end to my suffering, I felt worse. This is the emotional pain I cause myself. I stopped grimacing and smiled to myself, and the pain eased a little.
Karaj told me I’m in pain because I’m a truth seeker. The pain shows me the limitations of my body and thus breaks the attachment we otherwise have to the body, setting us free in the process; Then we are able to see the funny side of the pain.
When I do my work I am a better person, deeply aligned, and clearly in touch with my true purpose, yet I stop short of striding out into the world and proclaiming I have something to offer. People tell me I need to reach a wider audience. Even though my ego likes the idea, there is a reluctance within me. It reminds me of the entry, Playing Small & Safe, from 20 years ago.
That is the stick I bash myself with: that I am not doing enough (because of fear). Interestingly, in that same piece, Karaj also affirms a message he often conveyed, and one which has certainly anchored itself in some way, even though I am still prone to think I should be doing more.
‘If you relax and have some fun, things will take their natural course; and when the time is right everything will fall into place very quickly.’
The dominant feeling in all of this is the lack of acceptance for how things actually are. By looking at what I’m not doing, I’m missing the chance to revel in the glorious detail of what’s right in front of me. I’m also ushering in judgement. Judgement of myself, of others, and of the world. One easy way to free myself of that is to recall, once again, what Karaj used to say:
‘It’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is.’
As he never tired of telling me, it helps to relax. That way you create the time and space to perceive the splendour in front of you, rather than holding on stubbornly to your narrow view of how you think things should be. These lines from the 2002 post, Relax & Get On With Life, are another example of that:
It is not that I have to change my negative attitude, but my attitude to myself. Karaj told me I simply have to accept who I am and get on with life – no more no less. Relax with who I am and simply deal with whatever is in front of me, no matter what I have planned or what I think I should be doing. Also, don’t look into the future and bash myself up with where I think I should be and where I should be going. All that matters is where I am now.
Similarly, there’s this reminder from the 2001 post, Looking To Be Rescued:
‘Your rebelliousness is not believing that the process works. It does work, but not in the way you think. Have faith and don’t make it difficult.’
Ok, What’s True?
All the time I’m busy with how things should be, I’m missing the beauty of how things are. With my health I’m often restless and mentally tired of my body’s discomfort. But there is also great strength, balance and flexibility. With work I chide myself for not doing enough, or for not doing what others are doing. But look at what I am doing! And look again. And again.
That’s my truth – I am finding my own way, building solid, flexible foundations for the days and years ahead, and all the while I am having an increasingly positive effect on my world. Celebrate what’s there rather than grieve for what isn’t. Remember what I wrote in 2014’s, A Vision For My Future:
‘Be gentle with yourself. Take your time. Be focused and clear. Listen carefully to who you are. Be in awe of your journey, and use every opportunity to be quiet, still, and at peace with yourself and the world.’
I never expected to be where I am now, so I can’t possibly know where life might take me next. I can only trust that existence has purpose and direction built into it, and that if I am true to myself I will succeed. Whatever that means.