Not So Easy
When we are born we all have a few things in common that are tough: we will all grow old, (if we’re lucky) we will all have experience with illness; we will all suffer disappointment and loss and we will all die. Sound gloomy? I wonder what gave us moderns the idea that life should be free from pain and suffering. Our expectations that those “things” shouldn’t happen create the piggyback suffering we so want to avoid. Suffering on top of suffering. I am no exception.
Of course, when we are holding all the aces it is easy to be philosophical but when the rug starts to move under our feet and we experience the death of a loved one, scary symptoms, a harsh word, or any other unpleasant event, it can be hard to rally. There is no off-and-on switch to fix things.
Still, at the entrance to Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron’s monastery, on Cape Breton Island, is a sign that reads:
“Enjoy Your Life.”
Pema, like all of us, knows that life isn’t a bowl of cherries. It can be unfair – sometimes in our favour and sometimes not. However, when we show up for our life with a curious mind, wondering what might happen today, we get to experience more possibilities, within the mundane, to appreciate the joy of being alive, helping others, and being present with those we love. Even when they are not perfect.
And we all have days more difficult than others. We do better when we learn to co-exist with those days, doing what we can to mitigate difficult circumstances, while not wasting our energy fretting over the “why me” or it’s not fair.” Better to conserve our energy for what brings meaning and joy to our days. Delighting in the company of those whom we love, taking steps towards important purposes in our lives, and offering a kind word to boost another’s spirits, can be a great antidote to distress.
Like today, for me.
For the first time in a very long time my book group met in person. It was a joyful reunion with non stop chatter, laughter, smiles and joyful moments. No matter the other worries or fears that weighed us down, we had a reprieve for a few hours in the company of friends, together at the same table. Amazing!
Many of you are carrying a terrible burden and my heart goes out to you. Life can grind us down. But let’s keep retraining our eyes and hearts and brains to find the light that falls through the cracks. It’s worth it. Getting outdoors every day can be a life saver. And on the days that you just can’t do another thing, give yourself a break from constant striving. Eat chocolate and watch funny movies. Don’t be mean to yourselves. OK. Guilt-free restfulness. Moodling time is good for us.
Here are a few things to listen to and watch.
Laughter and Tears Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock performs Katy Perry’s Roar
A blessing for you today by John O’Donohue Beannacht
And a song – Better Together by Jack Johnson and Friends This recording is not the best one but I enjoy seeing the sweet faces of the singers in this video. And I love the song.
1:)The Role of Ikigai in Living Fully with Illness
Ikigai is a Japanese word that means something like, “a reason to get up in the morning.” What lifts your spirits? What gives your life meaning? In Japan, Ikigai is an attribute of longevity. I consider it an attribute of living well with illness. Ikigai is not positive thinking rather it is about purpose. What are things you consider important to do, and love to do? Nothing changes without action. Ikigai is about taking action- small steps- everyday that allow you to flourish under all circumstances.
2:) My heartiest thanks for continuing to show up week after week. Thank you.