The ants are everywhere.
Mosquitoes are buzzing in our ears, flies of all sizes swarm, and the occasional scorpion can be seen scurrying from a dry hiding place. Spiders are weaving condominiums of webs in the garden.
It’s rainy season in Guatemala, and all our insect neighbors are seeking shelter.
Furthermore, we are all getting older with each passing moment. In three blinks of an eye, a year passes. It’s been how many years since high school?
Aches and pains come with greater frequency and less obvious causes. Just last week, I tripped and twisted my ankle. It was sore for two days, immediately followed by the arrival of a stabbing sensation in my shoulder blade that made me feel elderly, eliciting excruciating pain whenever I tried to reach for something or bend over.
Do you ever have the feeling that “someday”—once the current difficulties are surmounted—life will be good again?
Just past this uncomfortable, painful, or even impossible-feeling challenge, we will reclaim contentment and ease! We will be healthy and fit, gainfully employed following our bliss, in happy harmony with our partners and families, and restored as all-around kind, wise, compassionate, intelligent, inspired, and inspiring beings on the planet.
When we get bigger. When we grow up…
What a farce!
The reality is that life on Earth is never going to reach this ideal state. There always has been and always will be a continuum of suffering to deal with—from paper cuts to bug bites to misled, ego-based arguments to rampant corruption, confusion, contamination, death, and taxes.
These are the facts of life. There will always be irritations. Our task is to shift the way we react to situations and experiences perceived as annoying. The more we can accept them and let go of viewing them as negative nuisances to be avoided or resisted, the better.
My practice lately is to instead acknowledge and experience whatever irritation arises with direct awareness, if not utter gratitude for the tiny opportunity for learning that it brings. When I get hooked, I take a deep breath and a pause. I feel the pain. I allow it to be there—and eventually, it passes.
Thanks to the vast magic of the universe (and the internet), reminders have been appearing that support this theme:
1. Here’s a quote I evidently posted seven years ago on Facebook, conveniently resurrected in my “memories” from yesterday:
“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
2. A timely article on ZenHabits:
“It’s not a problem, it’s an experience. That’s all it is: an experience, a feeling. Nothing to panic about. (Unless you’re feeling panic—that’s okay too.) It’s something you’re experiencing right now, and it’s not good or bad. It’s just an experience. It might not feel good, but that’s not a problem. Not all experiences feel good, right? Sometimes we just have to experience cold, heat, storms, and pain. It’s part of the experience of life, and we don’t have to shut it all out.” ~ Leo Babauta
3. Last but not least, a related idea from a superb spiritual guidebook, The Untethered Soul (which I bought and read recently thanks entirely to this Elephant post!):
“If you want to be happy, you have to let go of the part of you that wants to create melodrama. This is the part that thinks there’s a reason not to be happy. You have to transcend the personal, and as you do, you will naturally awaken to the higher aspects of your being. In the end, enjoying life’s experiences is the only rational thing to do. You’re sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Go ahead, take a look at reality. You’re floating in empty space in a universe that goes on forever. If you have to be here, at least be happy and enjoy the experience. You’re going to die anyway. Things are going to happen anyway. Why shouldn’t you be happy? You gain nothing by being bothered by life’s events. It doesn’t change the world; you just suffer. There’s always going to be something that can bother you, if you let it.” ~ Michael A. Singer
May we view our lives and moment-to-moment experiences through an unfiltered lens. May these words be of benefit.
And may all beings be happy!