Certainty and uncertainty…finding a sweet spot

I like to think of myself as being spontaneous, even a bit compulsive, when it comes to living every day.  Those who know me well think quite the opposite of me.  To a large degree, they are right!

Rigidity

The more rigid side of me wants to know the rules to play by, whether it is at work, at home, or hard at play.  Along with my own willingness to play by the rules, I expect others to respect the fact that rules are rules, especially when it comes to things that matter, like the workplace, or in relationships.  I believe a certain amount of rigidity enhances trust, that it does not detract from it.  By trusting others to follow the same rules to which we oblige ourselves, we can gradually learn to rely upon our coworkers and friends, that they will not betray our trust.  With practice and experience, it deepens the level of friendship we can have.

Spontaneity and new relationships

On the other hand, rigidity can stifle opportunity for discovery, for relationships which our “safer” side won’t allow, for learning we can swim in the deep end of the pool after all.  When we open our lives to spontaneity, we open ourselves up to new and exciting adventures and motivation for living joyfully.  We discover the beauty of diversity, and we learn that people are people, not enemies vs. friends.

Taking risks

So, what’s the problem?

Whether we can see it clearly or not, allowing or creating new opportunity by stepping out of our comfort zones, involves fear.  We are afraid of risks.  Things like rejection, embarrassment, feeling “stupid”, looking too “fat, ugly, tall, thin… (fill in the blank)” are small, though overwhelming, fears that tell us risks are treacherous and can lead to bad things, and humbling thoughts.

Finding the sweet spot

The way of greater joy and peace, I believe, is to find comfort in those things that we truly trust and upon which we can rely.  Once we are sure of those things, which, by the way, has a lot to do with finding comfort in ourselves, we can gain the confidence that new risks won’t kill us after all.

By taking small steps into this scary new world, we find interesting people, richer relationships, and lots of new things to think about, talk about, and relax about.  This, I believe, is the right path for anyone finding themselves entrapped in a cocoon of safety, and often, boredom.

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Good morning, world!

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It’s easier to face each day when the beauty of natural things greets you like this!

On my way out the door to get a few groceries this morning, I turned around to see how my roses looked today.  I had to stop and take a picture.  The breathtaking beauty was enough to put a smile on my face and a reminder in my heart that we are but a small part of a world that strives to show itself off, like a little girl playing “princess” in her mommy’s high heels, red lipstick, and sequined gown.

How precious are the days in which we do nothing but enjoy what nature brings at our doorstep.

Yoga, a journey within

It is the aim of all spiritual seeking to bring us home, home to the understanding that we already have everything we need.

~Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison, Meditations From the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga

“Contentment” has been in my vocabulary a lot lately.  Perhaps, the life-changing diet and my new yoga practice has opened my eyes and my spirit to the peace within.  Maybe, it’s just my time, finally, to accept the fact that “more” is not “better” or “richer.”

I look within and I see a person who has spent much of his life in competition with himself and others.  I see ambition, drama, contests, places and positions that have been my dreams and hopes.

Always being taught that ambition and drive are very good things, I recognize now that they have always had a narcotic effect on me.  They have deadened moments that should have been celebrated, dulled the joy that would have come naturally otherwise.

But, regretting the loss of those moments of joy only perpetuates it.  Finding acceptance of who we have been is just as important to happiness as becoming who can can be.

Coming home is not a long journey.

Examples of lives well-lived

I attended the funeral of my great-uncle (maternal side) Saturday morning who died last week at the age of 98.  Until a few weeks ago he was living fairly independently and in great spirits.  His decline was rapid, and from the reports by his very large family, he was quite ready to meet death as a man of traditional Christian faith.

In January I witnessed the struggle of another uncle (paternal side) who passed away at age 86 from complications due to congestive heart failure.  He, too, faced death without fear because he possessed the strength of his Christian faith.  This uncle’s passing triggered my commitment to better health.

Both of these men left important, positive legacies with their families.  Both had seen the world change in unimaginable ways, and they both had adapted to the changes with smiles on their faces, and without getting caught up in the moment.  Both were grounded in a deep faith, a love of life and family, and a sense of contentment that I have rarely seen from anyone else.  Both knew how to laugh, to tell great stories, and to listen intently when children spoke to them.  Both exuded kindness in heaps.

The church was full today for the funeral of my great-uncle.  There was much laughter, and love overflowed.

Two take-aways for me

  1. Worthwhile legacies are not built upon good intentions or last-minute adjustments in one’s character in anticipation of death.  They are built over a lifetime of consistency, integrity, thankfulness, and contentment.
  2. The measure of success in life is in the quality, depth, and love one gives in all his relationships.

As I discover my own path in the aging process, I am more aware than ever before of the importance of love and integrity.  I have had many great examples in my family.  I have been blessed with great gifts.

Jack Kornfield says, “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past.” In that sense, forgiveness is really not about someone’s harmful behavior; it’s about our own relationship with our past. When we begin the work of forgiveness, it is primarily a practice for ourselves.

—–Gina Sharpe, for Tricycle

I liken forgiveness to cleaning out an old closet with all its junk such as boxes that haven’t been opened in years, and old clothes from the 70’s. It is hard to let things go, but when you do, it is liberating, and it makes room for other things in your life. Forgiveness is a cleansing act.

Hanging on to grudges and offenses takes a lot of energy, and the one who suffers most is the one who won’t let go of them.

Follow me on Twitter, too, @toddwrite.

Forgiveness is self-care