An Invitation to Live Life As It Is

“The rain is awful!” “Glorious weather we’re having!” “I’m so happy!” “I feel bad.” “It’s so pretty.” “That’s really ugly.” How often we label things, people, and moods as “good” and “bad”.

When you’re surrounded by “good” stuff, you think your life is running smoothly. However, as soon as something “bad” happens, you’re thrown into chaos and despair. The first sign of a “negative” emotion and you’re reaching for the antidepressants or the alcohol or you’re throwing yourself into excessive activity or mind-numbing television shows. You run from what you perceive to be bad, avoiding it for as long as you possibly can, then battling it with all your might. No wonder you’re exhausted! You’ll only be content when the sun is shining, when you look fantastic, when everything goes the way you think it should, and when everyone around you behaves the way you expect them to. Good luck with that!

In The Invitation, Oriah Mountain Dreamer writes about her experience of resisting what she had labelled as bad:

“The world offers itself to me in a thousand ways, and I ache with an awareness of how infrequently I am able to receive more than a small fraction of what is offered, of how often I reject what is because I feel it is not good enough. Some mornings, sitting for a moment in the backyard, I don’t even notice how I have tensed my muscles against the sound of the city’s traffic, resisting what I have decided is a marring of the morning quiet. I pull away from it, unable or unwilling to welcome this sound as part of what is alive, as simply the sounds of men and women beginning their day, going into the world to do the work they do to provide for themselves and their children.”

In another chapter, she writes:

“We live in a culture that wants only the times of fullness, that often denies outright the fading times. We have forgotten that there can be no full moon without the existence at other times of the tiny sliver of light surrounded by darkness. The fullness of summer is held, on the opposite side of the wheel, by the time of the longest night. To be separated from these cycles of the world, from the births and the deaths, is to be separated from life itself. But still we work frantically, seeking the knowledge that will put humans outside this natural cycle of blossoming and decay.”

Imagine the relief if you decided to stop fighting the darkness. How would it feel to simply accept everything exactly as it is? To recognise that everything is as it should be? And how do you know that everything is as it should be? Because it is. It’s so simple that you think you need to make it more complicated in order to understand it. You make your life difficult by suffering and complaining because you think things should be different from what they are. Things should not be any different. Why? Because what is is.

This does not mean staying in a situation that is not serving you well. The trick is to be present enough to acknowledge that it is time to move forward. People often have to feel bad enough for long enough before they will finally do something about their suffering. In this case, the “unpleasant” situation has also unfolded exactly as it was meant to. So that you could learn. So that you could grow. So that you could realise that you love yourself.

When you’ve lived an entire lifetime of expecting things to be “wonderful” and constantly (but not at all surprisingly) being disappointed, this new mindset takes a bit of time to sink in. Just today, I felt annoyed because somebody behaved in a way that I didn’t like. What a ___head, I muttered as I put my foot on the accelerator. This thought filled my body with heat and anger. My head throbbed as I tensed against these sensations. I don’t want this pain, I thought. Pain is something I’ve always feared. It was something I had learned that you had to immediately eradicate. I realised that I was, yet again, resisting reality. I thought that the man should have acted differently. But the reality was that he had behaved exactly the way he had behaved. I could accept it. Or I could dwell on it, take it personally, wish for something different, and wind myself up tighter and tighter. I also didn’t want to be in pain. But I was. I could fight against that too. Or I could breathe into it and observe what happened.

As I drove, I looked out at the countryside. The day was “dull” and “dreary”. The sky was grey and heavy. The rain drizzled “monotonously”. I knew that if the sun was shining, I would feel instantly uplifted. I’d marvel at the shock of yellow rapeseed in the fields and gaze up at a sky streaked with colour.

What’s wrong with a day like today, I asked myself. The trees and bushes glistened a lush green, having drunk an abundance of rain. I too drank in this perfect example of nature. I realised that the guy from earlier was merely acting as a mirror to reflect something to me that I needed to look at. If I stopped making it all about him and started making it all about me, I could learn from it. I then brought my awareness to the pain in my head. It told me that I’m alive. I took a long and satisfying breath.

The rain continued to fall. Instead of cursing the weather and agonising over all the things I couldn’t do, I became aware of all the things I could do. I could practice yoga and listen to music, then make myself a huge mug of tea, and curl up in an armchair with a fluffy blanket and a great book. Or I could lie on my bed and listen to the rainfall, grateful that I have a roof over my head. I could see the world for what it is and lovingly accept it all.

This field is astonishingly joyous.

Image: Author’s own.

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