Learning to Live With What Is
Life sometimes seems like a turbulent ocean threatening to tumble me in endless waves of change and uncertainty, threatening to destroy my world as I’ve known it. Why, then, shouldn’t I just cling to the safety and certainty of the shoreline; to my familiar patterns and habits I’ve cultivated and am comfortable with, that have worked reasonably well thus far? Well, because I believe this kind of fear-based thinking keeps me from the infinitely more satisfying experience of being fully alive with life just as it is.
Daunting as it may often seem, we can all learn to step right into the waves...to be fearlessly present even in the most challenging times and the most difficult, unpredictable situations. If we can learn to let go of our protective patterns and step outside our safety zone, we begin to see not only how much better it feels to live that way, but we also find that life on the edges of fear and uncertainty can be quite rewarding.
I know that may sound a little far-reaching, but hear me out…
A long time ago I met a man who had been involved in a very unhappy, dysfunctional relationship for many years and was working a job that he hated. He was beaten down, and his vibe was kinda sad, kinda flat. At the same time, he was a man of incredible talent and creativity who had previously met with some success in his career. He had 2 wonderful children and enjoyed good health. He had a lot to be thankful for, yet he felt listless about life in general and carried with him a sense of resignation and belief that his options were limited. I asked him why he was willing to tolerate being mistreated, why he stayed in a job that gave him no sense of purpose or joy, why he was willing to sacrifice his dreams by staying in the miserable relationship that bordered on the edge of hateful and a job he hated to go to every day. His response? “I guess I’ve just become content in my discontent”.
I found that incredibly sad. And I could also relate. I mean my own life had had its share of ups and downs; I too had willingly stayed in situations that fostered no growth both personally and professionally. I get it. Change is hard. Rocking the boat can make you a little seasick.
This was around the same time I was delving deeply into Yoga and eastern thought and learning how to adjust my way of thinking to empower myself with possibility. I was learning to let go of my pie-in-the-sky expectations, both of myself, others, and the world. I was learning to accept what was, no matter how uncomfortable, and trust that all was well in the grand scheme of things. I could allow myself to look fear in the eye and embrace it as my teacher. I was learning to be shaped by life’s turbulence and trust that the rocky ride would be worth what I learned and earned in my strife. It was by no means easy to walk alongside fear, loss, unfulfilled desire, and disappointment. But it was rich and alive.
Fast forward 30 years. And I’m still practicing living with uncertainty and fear. As the years have gone by, it’s gotten easier to face the unpredictability of life and to trust that ambiguity, confusion, and chaos will indeed work themselves out. That, on the other side of it, I’d be more content with whatever was at hand and wise enough to know that nothing lasts forever.
The pandemic has challenged us all to stay the course of living fully with what is. I’m leaning into all that entails, still learning how to ride life’s waves with grace, living beautifully with what is.
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