Thursday, October 1, 2015

Life as a part of a bigger journey.

      When I can step back and really see this life as a trip, as a small step in a larger path, when I can see each mistake as a lesson rather than something that has “changed my life irreparably”, and each moment as an experience rather than a decision that determines the course of my existence irreversibly; then I can relax more about the past, I am more accepting of the present, and I am less anxious about the future.  I can be philosophical about life.  When life is something to be experienced, rather than something to "get right", when I can take this moment and all moments without the seriousness of feeling each thing I do will be somehow unalterable, I can be more comfortable with making “errors”.  I can also be easier on my kids, because I can see their "errors" too as just experiences, opportunities to learn and grow on a path that is slightly different from what it might have been had they chosen differently, but still a worth while path (perhaps even more so), full of it's own adventures, challenges and discoveries.  It is their own journey to make, whatever that may look like, rather than a contest or a struggle against the forces of life with some who win and some who lose and a lot of people who get lost in the middle.  
       Paramahansa Yogandanda said, "Do not take life's experiences too seriously.  Above all, do not let them hurt you for in reality they are nothing but dream experiences.  If circumstances are bad and you have to bear them, do not make them a part of yourself.  Play your part in life but never forget that it is only a role."
       This is really hard to do.  It is really hard to not take life seriously in every moment.  But the result of taking life so seriously is regrets and anxiety and this constant feeling that we are somehow on the wrong path, we have made choices that have put us on the wrong road, we've taken turns and made mistakes that can't be undone.  Again, the other choice is to see it all as experiences.  In that case every mistake really is just a lesson to be learned; a sea of pebbles each to be picked and held for a time rather than a series of roads, only one of which is right and only one of which will lead each of us to "win" this game called life. 
       I think there are a lot of reasons why we get stuck in the "too serious" win/lose game mentality of life.  For one thing, those on the top would promote that vision, with them as the "winners" and the rest of us as losers.  It benefits them to see everything they have done (or that has been done for them) as worth the win that they claim to have done better than others. It helps them feel superior and on top at some level, and that's a nice feeling to have.
       But this other vision of life, as one of experiences and lessons and a sea of pebbles rather than a series of one-way roads allows us to see that every life is valuable, every life is a "win" of experiences, though some may be more joyful experiences and others may be hard.  It also allows for the option of picking a new pebble each day, and of not being "stuck" on the path one has chosen intentionally or through "mistakes".  I think it opens up the possibility of a life creatively lived, as we see more than just the options of staying on the path we are currently on, but instead see options for walking a different way, a unique way, one that leads to pebbles far on the other shore from the experiences we have come to know.
       I saw this posted as I was writing this essay:

       When we are able to see life as a series of experiences and lessons, we are more able to take risks.  For some those risks might include choosing a different career path, going back to school, moving across the country, getting to know someone different, forming new connections.  For me, they also include risking caring "too much", being too kind, offering compassion more often.  I can risk being hurt by others because that, too, is just another experience.  I can risk offering care and resources to others because that, too, is just another experience.  It is a chance to interact with others who have picked up different pebbles and to see what their experiences have been, what the pebbles they have chosen have given them, what a different journey might look like. 
      My goal for today is to breath into each moment as its own, to choose each moment for the experience it has to share, and to live each moment without regret or anxiety about the next.  My hope is that you, too, can find peace in each moment for its own sake.