Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Life is in the struggle & the coming out the other side

In every aspect of our search for who we are, why we are, what are we, are the trillion hypotheses about the purpose & its meaning.  Some never contemplate the bigger picture, it never crosses their busy or ignorant or well educate concrete thinking minds, yet I tend to believe we all contemplate it, some just put on a braver, more stubborn face than others. For those who've experienced loss, the question of what this is all for, is more than a passing thought & really who hasn't experienced loss, tell me that? 

I'm not sure what is going on with the universe at present as if by random chance the weather brings in more than just the odd storm here & there. Maybe it is not the universe, maybe this feeling of not being alone is not because we are shifting in patterns the same as others, more that these patterns are part of being human? We are not alone in what we are going through because we took the time to look at what else is going on & discovered these crap moments, these joyous, exciting & horrible moments, they are happening everyday everywhere we look, if we just open our eyes.

Lately it seems struggle & suffering is abundant in many of the people I know. I can also see, sitting on the sidelines, hope & survival, strength & compassion in the very same locations & people. So many feeling isolated & alone, losing hope & close to giving up. I wonder of the intense pain inside the person that ends the only thing we have power over, our life. What it is that a person seeks, has lost, is disappointed by in life that would drive them to that decision.  As many us who have seen the other side of the storm know too well "this too shall pass", tomorrow is another day. 

We've been in those moments, frustrated & so overwhelmed that life scares the hell out of you & yet I can't possibly imagine the thoughts of a person who chooses to give up on us all, to give up on themselves, I only know the incredible sadness that comes from their choice. Right on the verge of stepping off that ledge is another idea, a different perspective, a choice you haven't made (there are so many many more), there is another day & another way. It is an over whelming sadness for all human beings when one of us chooses to give up on life. That we have become so caught up in what we have not, that we lose focus on what we have right now. What happened yesterday is gone, there is no changing it now. What is happening tomorrow hasn't occurred, there is always the potential it can go another way, there are no certainties, never. That someone among us could feel so isolated & alone to convince themselves no one is there for them, no one could help them through this is the greatest sadness of all.  How as a species have we become so disconnected from each other, so busy in all that we do, so ignorant & apathetic that we have stored each other into little neat boxes for later. We have become so busy, so caught up in our pursuit of goals, that we have so little time for the journey for every single person we meet along the way. 

We are who we are because of the people we meet.  They may have been your enemies, your friends, family or lovers; they may have caused you enormous pain, suffering, heart ache or joy.  You are who you are today, right at this moment from every single experience you have encountered, they have each contributed to shaping your thoughts, your behaviour & you through your choices have these experiences to either guide you or to wedge you somewhere you don't want to be.  

Whatever you find is your purpose in life, the answer is not in a pursuit of happiness or things. Purpose is not in results, in material objects, in controlling everything around you, in hiding or escaping reality through drugs, alcohol or lies; nor in the ideal job, wife, husband, children. If you want purpose & haven't found it as yet, then stop looking, it was there all along. These things are your purpose, these moments each & every single one, the mistakes & the successes.  It's neither complex or easy, it just is what it is. You don't need schools to learn, yet learning is found in schools; you don't need to love to know loss, being alone will teach you that just as well.  There is suffering in every single example of a human being, to think of yourself as the only person who can understand your suffering is insular & ignorant, every single one of us knows suffering, you are no more important or less than important than whoever you sit next to on the bus. You are you & they are them & as we go through life attempting to find meaning & make sense from the crap, the mundane, the routine, the extra ordinary, we have a gift that no other species on the planet has, to take meaning from life, from these experiences; each of them, all of them or none of them. 

To think of yourself as the same as another is a waste of thought, we are no more the same in all aspects of who we are than two plants, two pieces of dust, two animals. We are both ordinary & extraordinary, we can make the most of what we have or take it for granted. The more we give to life, the more we receive from life.  You can't smell flowers from sitting in your arm chair, you need to get out there, grow a few, plant a few seeds, trial & error & experience it. 

Francis Xavier was credited as stating "Give me the child until he is 7 and I'll give you the man", there have been more developmental theorists, psychologists, researchers & professionals along the way who either directly or indirectly claim behaviour as the strongest indicator of who we will become.  There are some who believe you can take any child at birth & change their trajectory by merely providing the ideal circumstances & environment.  Yet what is that? The US Government once thought after the war & bombing of entire community resulting in hundreds of orphans they could provide the neatest, cleanest hospitals & children would be better off, the children would thrive. Half of the children remained in the community, fostered out to extended family & kin. What we know now is that as human beings we need more than stuff, more than the brightest, cleanest environments, we need to be hugged, to be loved, to connect, to be held & to feel like we matter.  Our purpose is in the meaning we experience every single day through each experience with each other. As we grow, we experience, we learn & we grow, experience & learn, it never stops. 

I cannot think of a more repulsive word (or maybe a few) than assimilate.  What the hell? Why should any culture be so arrogant & self righteous they believe another culture should surrender their values, beliefs, history, traditions & become as they think they should become.  Is it beyond their small mediocre minds to fathom learning from each other, discovering & appreciating uniqueness & to put aside the belief we are intrinsically all the same? It is impossible, we cannot ever be the same.  Our experiences will shape that.  If you've ever had children you will know no two siblings are completely the same, please don't make the mistake of treating them like they are. Cultures are no different. We each come with our flaws, our mistakes to learn from & our gifts. 

"We don't always get what we want",yes Mick it is a wonderful stroke of luck. The greatest lessons is the change in wind, change in our sails & sending us off in different directions. We can learn if we chose or we can curl up in a ball & watch it all go by. The lessons will be painful, frustrating & at times will bring us to our knees. There will be those of us who seek answers & results; be weighed down by the discovery there is no answer.  At times the outcomes will never be that which we seek. It's like putting in your order for something at the drive-thru as you are too busy to find time to get out of your car & walk in. You drive off in a hurry & miles down the road you realise it isn't what you wanted, you can either complain about what you received, spend the very time you didn't have (or so you believed) in the first place to drive back or consider it a wonderful stroke of luck that you have something to try you've never considered before & embrace every thing, taste it & get on with the day. You could also slow down & stop rushing through life as if you are heading towards the finish line as quickly as possible. You could have checked your order before you rushed off, you could have noticed how busy the business was as you hurried through. You could have taken in way more information than just what was relevant to you.  We all matter, it all matters, the little stuff & the big stuff.  How you react, how you interpret each experience will all be a result of how much you are willing to take in. 

I've been doing analysis of behaviour & observing people for some time.  I started out with children, widened my scope & now observing behaviour is more a passion & interest than feels like work. I notice things & often don't realise how much or how little until I start making notes later. Yet despite having a large capacity to take in a lot of information visually, verbally & cognitively, it's still only one view, my perspective based on my experience, skill & knowledge.  Sitting down & discussing/reflecting on observations in a team demonstrates how much you observe differently to others & there are so many professionals (including the medical & psychological) who get this wrong when they assume their view is the only lens we need to use. It has always amazed me how when diagnosing children a parent's perspective/opinion is the underlying evidence for diagnosis. Yet it's only one view, it might be a reliable one, yet it might be the contributing factor! When you open your eyes to different ways of knowing, to looking at people with a different lens you see so much more than you ever thought was there. You see different people, you see a different you. 

We come into the world wanting to know everything, believing we do, discovering we don't & hopefully accepting we don't need to know it all. As children we struggle to grow up, as adults we struggle to stay young. Life is all in the struggle, these are the meanings we have, learning you are not in control, discovering resistance is not only exhausting it is futile; death is upon every single one of us, there is no way out & we all headed to the same outcome.  

In the movie 'About Time' a young man is handed a secret on turning 18 that he can go back in time & re order events to achieve his own outcome.  Yet as he discovers it isn't all its cracked up to be.  If you go back before a baby is born/conceived, you alter whether it occurs at all; some times you have to make a choice between having what you want & doing what is best for someone else, you can't save everyone. As his Dad cursed with the same gift discovers he can't go back & never take up smoking, therefore never dying of cancer as that would be before he conceived his son & that is an event he would never want to erase.

In Mitch Albom's 'The Time Keeper' a young adolescent girls wants to give up on time & a old terminally ill wealthy man wants to find a way to live forever.  Father Time is sentenced to teaching them both about time in order to fully understand its meaning & his own purpose in time. 

"The Struggle of winning & losing

Is the struggle of poniard & blow;
But the struggle of heart & the struggle of mind
Is the struggle to learn to let go". 

From 'Learning to Let go' in 5 Stages of the Soul - quote from Lucy Dulles, a high school student.

We each have 24 hours, leaders, writers, artists, scientists, friends, family, lovers, criminals, waste of timers, all of us exactly the same time & what we do with it is our responsibility.  Whether we step up or step down, we let go or hold on.  The only thing we have control over despite millions of Ted talks on taking life by the balls & getting what you want, is our choice to do what we want.  Life has this way of taking us on a journey we need, to the wrong places at the right times. You can keep trying to swim up stream & wear yourself out or you can sit on the banks, glass of wine in your hand & laugh with a few friends watching the others struggle & struggle & struggle. No matter which choice you make, these events, the struggle & the friends, they are your life.  Whatever matters will be what you bring into the world & what you take out. Your life.

There is a legend among Native Americans which describes every person on the planet has the secrets of life and death written across their forehead. Obviously you can't see it because it's on your forehead. In the 5 Stages of the Soul, it tells the story of a Christian Monk who believes everything we need to know is stored in our heart, the heart is the question & the answer. 

There is the story of the young princess who terrified of snakes asks her father to find somewhere on the planet with no snakes.  He finds a tiny island & builds a small house & she lives there lonely & without experience, without fear.  Each week the staff bring to her food & necessities & on one occasion a snake has made its way into one of the baskets & as she opens it is killed by a poisonous bite.  Fatalistic? or the universe has a way of bringing us that which we need to learn, no matter how hard we try to escape it, we find it, it finds us, time & time again.

Publishers, writers, movie makers write stories time & time again of love lost over decades only to find it again after trying to walk away from what was destined to be all along. It is what it is. You have the steering wheel, you can change direction at any time. You only need to face your fears, stop being concerned about the perspective of others (remember they have no idea what is in your head or heart & only see it from their own perspective). If you don't give something a go, time will not wait for you. Lives are lost every single day. If you don't hold on another day, time will not wait for you either. If something is not going the way it should be, then walk away, shelf it for a while, go outside, take a walk, let the phone go flat, don't talk to the person who pushes your buttons.  If someone doesn't call, then busy yourself & let them go & make their own mistakes. Get on with life.  

This is your life, stop waiting for it to begin, stop complaining it hasn't. Every day is a gift, every breathe, every friend, every experience, hug, kiss, tear.  It might not go the way you expected, then maybe your expectations were wrong in the first place.  Drop the expectations. Get up each day with gratitude for whatever you experience.  

The other day I decided to take all the washing into the laundromat & save on tank water.  There was an older woman folding & commented on my daughter keen to help.  We ended up chatting for a good hour (to the frustration of my daughter who had exceeded her helping quota for the day!) & we discovered each of us had loved & lost someone to exactly the same tumour, in the same location in the brain, with the same symptoms & aired off frustrations we had experienced about the treatment & grief & issues that only someone who had gone through the same experience may understand.  As I was leaving she approached & gave me the largest heartfelt hug & thanked me for taking the time to talk & listen & share.  Yet here I was thinking wow I needed that, those little reminders to get keep my head out of the sand & eyes on the path ahead & despite feeling broken at times & lost, I just met the most resilient & beautiful person (the woman herself had also had breast cancer & cervical cancer & had lost two husbands).  She shared her story of losing the love of her life once & then finding someone else only to experience it again & that in the end only one thing is real.  Not the things, not the money, not the houses or cars or the fake friends, love, just love.

So as you struggle through your day today & you make a choice to either suffer it or embrace it, whether you meet someone amazing, whether you find time to talk to the check out operator, smile at the service station attendant. As you go through life compromising on what matters, know that no one is going to give you meaning, your purpose, your choices are the meaning, the purpose is what you decide to take from it.  If you chose anger & resentment, so it will be yours to keep.  If you chose to love with all your heart, to be compassionate, to see the good in people, to know & appreciate everyone has suffering, to every behaviour there is a story to be told, nothing is as simple or as complex as only you perceive it.  Let go of the arrogance & ignorance. Open your eyes & start looking for the amazing in people.  Start seeing the talents in your children. Stop settling for second best, go for what your heart tells you matters to you. Cut away from the people that drain & exhaust you, who bring you down & keep you there. Surround yourself with people who get you, who push you forward & up, find someone who makes you heart sing & gets you up every single day.

In 'About Time', what was a gift becomes ordinary.  As his father leaves his final advice, he tells him to live everyday as it is, with all the angst, frustration, trials & errors.  Then to go back & live every day again, this time with different eyes, without the angst, frustration, trials.  To live everyday with the view it could be the last.

I've been to enough funerals in my lifetime to last the rest of my own & every single one I hear people saying how they need to do things different, they talk about their regrets, they reminisce about the loves they've lost, the things they didn't say, the "what if.....'s". They seem to get back into their routines & get lost again & give up on themselves way before they give up on other people.

If you never ever go, you'll never ever know & can you live with that? Can you live with never knowing what could have been? Now, right now is the right time.  Say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done. Life is too short to live with regrets, to live with the fear of trying to imagine what someone else will say or feel.  You are not a chameleon so stop trying to change so people will like you.  Be who you are & like every bit of you & those who are destined to be there will be. Love every bit, the hard bits, the soft bits, the tears & the joys. These are all your own, every experience. Touch a few hearts, let them touch yours, live a little, love a lot & get up & try again. Struggle & struggle with the knowledge that something is on the other side, something better, something worthwhile is around the corner.  Have faith, believe in yourself & surround yourself with people who get you there & keep you going.

Whatever you do, no matter how hard it gets, don't give up. It's at that moment, when things are about to change xoxoxo


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