What do you do when life throws so many things at you at once? This is a difficult question... In my otherwise short life and limited experience, I have learnt a few valuable things. First, that life is temperamental. She is also unpredictable and she likes to be in control. I therefore thread very carefully with her... mostly. But then, I like to dare her. After all, what is the fun if I take her tantrums lying down?
This afternoon, I began reading a book titled You are the Messenger. Several quotes in, it caught my attention. First, that you "can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs," the second sort to explain how our body language says so much about us. The author talks about intuition and judgment, and how a dog that is after you will stop in its tracks if you do not show fear but rather face it. The dog is able to sense this in your body language. The author suggests that we communicate who we are to another person in seven seconds. This accession is based upon some research, but the fact is that very few of us ever stop to think deeply about it. For this reason, I some how have the feeling that if I run away from life and not face it square-on no matter what she throws my way, she may sense my fear and perhaps throw more of the undesirable stuff at me?
The stuff she throws though, are the very situations that teach us so much, and yet they make life so difficult. Recently, after a blog, there ensued a banter between a Facebook friend and me, using metaphor that explored the preferred vehicle we travel through life in. We joked about taking a jet or, alternatively, making the trip on foot. I did state that sometimes foot is better as you get to take in the view. My reason being that life is about the journey, after all, not the destination; this is not to say I will not jump on a jet! These are thoughts that occupy my mind frequently.
As morbid as it may sound, it is good to think about death sometimes. It puts things in perspective. I remember a poem by Robert Frost that compares death to life and as such, the graveyard is viewed through the bedroom window. In this poem, the characters struggle with the different perspectives around death. One sees it as a major loss and a thief, and the other sees it as a transition, a necessity of life, just like sleep is. I oftentimes wonder at the difficulties in life. The unending suffering, the pain, the unfairness, the many struggles! I project an existence without death, and I shudder. I imagine a soul bearing life's difficulties for eternity without the respite of death... It must be like going through an entire day or two -- or perhaps a week or a year or your whole life -- without sleep. At those times, as much as I despise death, I thank the good Lord for the blessed respite and his wisdom.
Life is an uphill battle of growth physically, emotionally and spiritually for each soul. The very trajectory of our physical growth demonstrates this to us, that the goodness and the struggles only grow -- and maybe the opposite is an anomaly? It is when we face the many challenges that we grow. But then again, when we are done, we become babies ones again and the cycle of life in its repetition completes itself. As we progress though, it is important to take the lessons with us, so we don't keep having to learn them over and over again. That can be a drag.
The most important lesson I have learnt is that nothing is ever lost in the universe and that life is a cycle. We always reap what we sow, and with interest, too! My Christian faith tells me this. It is important that I respect the laws of the universe and understand that I am mirrored in the face I stare into. That the line between human and beast is very thin and that we all have it within us... and so I nurture the angel within and stay mindful of the beast, both necessary parts of the whole. Most importantly, to keep the balance, I take time to eat strawberries.
There is a story of a man who is running away from tigers and gets to the edge of a cliff. As he makes to jump, he looks down and sees a pack of wolves. As he stands there contemplating his next move, he slips and his quick grasp of a vine is what saves him from a shattered skull. As he steadies his breath, bush rodents scurry near and start to nibble at the vine he is holding on to... facing imminent death, his eyes fall to a nearby bush of strawberries. Taking a breath, he stretches out his one hand as he holds onto the vine tightly with his other hand, picks a strawberry and takes a bite... Hmm, strawberries had never tasted so sweet. This story is attributed to Buddha.
What is your strawberry? Is it a loved one, your children, music, looking at the sea, appreciating art, helping the homeless, movies, farming, etc.? Whatever it is, take time to enjoy your strawberries, for life is short, unpredictable, temperamental, an uphill battle, sometimes downhill and it isn't about to slow down... But I love it and I love my strawberries, too!