Well here’s the best kept secret that no one ever told me, until now—
“LIFE IS DIFFICULT.”
Thank you Dr. Scott Peck for telling it like it is.
Life is difficult. Period. And this fact is not a problem. (Parents, please tell your children that life is difficult and that this is OKAY!)
I’ve spent way too many years trying to be perfect because that’s what I thought everybody wanted from me—I lived under the assumption that I had to get it right the first time, or else.. or else what? But I didn’t pause long enough to think this who thing through.
The truth is we don’t want each other to be perfect, we want each other to be REAL. Yes?
Real is what you get after a long day of hard work—washing dishes, planting and harvesting food, being with children, sitting at a desk answering telephones, cooking, cleaning, wading through the piles of shit, (literal or preverbal)—dirt under your finger nails, sweat between your breasts, an aching back, a stiff neck, a pounding head, tired eyes, hunger pains, and the knowledge that tomorrow you’ll wake up and do it all over again… because this is what it means to be human, and This. Is. Real.
(Note: you’ll also get a taste of Real after long periods of boredom, or gut-buckling laughter, or sobbing).
Why then, you ask, would anyone want to be born just so that they can go through a difficult existence? And isn’t that why we’re all aiming for the day we can “retire”?
Well… yes, and… not really…
There is so much joy that comes with being human. Moments of joy are in harmony with moments of pain. The pain doesn’t have to override the joy. We will experience both. And retirement is a myth in case you’re still diluting yourself.
Let’s use the story of Prince Siddhartha as an example—a prince, protected from all pain and suffering, in a magnificent palace, surrounded by only the most beautiful courtiers and yet, “Something—as persistent as his own shadow—drew him into the world beyond the castle walls.”
Siddhartha wanted more than beauty, riches, and good company. We was called by his higher self to become fully human. We are all called beyond our castle walls—we are not drawn to be perfect, but to be Human, to become more real.
One way to BE with ourselves and with one others is to recognize that everyone we encounter has a broken heart—this is what it is to be human, to have a body, to live on planet Earth, so experience suffering and joy one and then the other over and over again.
I’ve tried to hide my humanness by trying to be perfect when in fact I was scared of being found out, of being real.
The mind is sneaky. It makes up stories and tells all sorts of lies. What are your castle walls hiding? What are you hiding behind? Trying to be perfect, strong, brave, out-going wealthy, poor, or a know-it-all [insert your own word here]?
These are a few simple, tried and true tools that I use to help me RELAX and let go of trying to be perfect (or strong, or brave, or outgoing):
- SLOWING DOWN in order to really listen to the body, to nature, to others.
- SOFTEN because this goes against our natural tendency to “push harder” in order to succeed. (Which is another great topic: “Redefining What Success Means,” which I’ll save for another time.) Softening shifts my old habit patterns. Shifting these patterns changes the way I age and I like this because I want to bring more attention to all parts of my life especially as I grow older.
- PULLING WEEDS I’ve been pulling up tumble weeds instead of mowing them down because I want those f*$%#ers gone! Plus there are so many great metaphors for pulling weeds, like, “You need to get to the root of the issue if you want it gone for good.”
Life is difficult and it’s good this way because difficult is not a problem. Really. Difficult is simply what is. Life is sweetness and sorrow together.
Where are you hiding out? Where are you trying to make things better than they are? When we confront our challenges and recognize our own set-backs as tools, teachers, and have gratitude for those things we cannot change, we make space for Love.
“Where gratitude exists, only love exists.” –Arnaud Desjardins.
I encourage us all to adopt a more grateful attitude towards life. We only get one body, let’s rejoice together!