It’s the start of the week, the month, and maybe a brand new season. We can look at it with anticipation and joy, or we can feel overwhelmed and even frightened.
Why can’t we get out of neutral and do the things we keep saying we will do? What if the months pass and we’re still just sitting here? Why does it seem like everyone else is making progress?
But then again, why don’t we boomers and beyond give ourselves a break?
Where is this critical voice coming from—the one that keeps saying we need to improve, to change ourselves, to transform our personalities into a lotus flower?
What if, for a moment, we considered how perfect we really are. What a miracle we are.
In other words, lighten up.
I like this notion. I like remembering that spirit made me and spirit lives in me. Way before teachers, preachers, or finger-pointers took hold of me, I existed. I shine. I live, breathe, and love. So maybe I’m just okay—without trying to become someone I was never meant to be.
In her book, “The Wisdom of No Escape”, Pema Chodron touches on these thoughts more than once. Her are just a few excerpts of her words:
“Loving kindness doesn’t mean getting rid of anything….we can still be crazy after all these years. We can still be angry after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is not to try to change our selves. Mediation practice isn’t about throwing ourselves away and becoming something better. It’s about befriending who we are already…if you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom. Someone who is very angry also has a lot of energy; that energy is what’s so juicy about him or her…the idea isn’t to try to get rid of your anger, but to make friends with it, to see it clearly with precision and honesty, and also see it with gentleness….”
See it with gentleness. What a nice thought! Turn off the voices that tell you it’s time to develop a new personality. Put down the whip. Think soft instead.
Pema also says:
“Life’s work is to wake up, to let the things that enter into the circle wake you rather than put you to sleep. The only way to do this is to open, be cautious, and develop some sense of sympathy for everything that comes along, to get to know its nature and let it teach you what it will. It’s going to stick around until you learn your lesson, at any rate. The journey of awakening—the classical journey of the mythical hero or heroine—is one of continually coming up against big challenges and then learning how to soften and open.”
We’ve earned a little softness. We’ve endured a lifetime of struggle, pain, happiness, sadness, and just about everything else. So does it really make sense to think we’re doing it all wrong? I don’t think so.
Life is hard. So if we can be gentle, especially with ourselves, that has to be the right path. At least it’s the one I want to take.
“The purpose of life is to increase the warm heart.”