“I am a free moving vertical spiral of joy, I am a happy heart sending forth blessings, I am the catalyst, I am the alchemist.” ~ Allou Guthmiller
When I was younger and far more cynical than I am now, I used to say that those who were happy were just too stupid or too naïve to see the world’s pain. Now that I am a bit older and hopefully wiser, I see how our society has enforced the image that happy equals simple. Yet maintaining your joy in the face of all the horrors in our world is far more challenging and far more important than sixteen year old me would have ever believed.
Our society enforces a pattern of martyrdom, of wisdom and peace only being attainable by suffering. I would challenge that notion. I believe that we grow both in times of scarcity and times of plenty as long as we are continuously seeking growth for ourselves and our community. When things are easy, we have a tendency to slide into indolence, indeed, we are encouraged to do so, to watch television or to play a video game, rather than continue to strive. Not that either of those things are bad, or unenlightening, but we are pressured to lose ourselves in them, to ignore ourselves and “escape”.
There is no escape from yourself. There is no escape from pain. There is no escape from this moment. There is only what is in front of you and your choice of how you face it. When you are faced with a challenging person or situation, do you find yourself wallowing in the toxic miasma of the situation? Unable to let go of the muck. Do you find yourself complaining to your spouse or friend or relative? In a way, what you are doing is scooping a little of that sludge and flinging it at someone you love, hoping some of it will stick. Misery does love company.
Oh, I will complain about my day, about the rude person that cut me off, or the annoying phone call I had to deal with, but it will be done with a laugh and a smile, this was a moment I faced, it was a thing that happened, it was a bit of the swamp that I walked through but the sinkholes didn’t get me!
None of this denies the real challenges going on in the world today. But think about how much more capacity you would have to deal with the real horrors of the world, if you didn’t let yourself get mired in the swamp of petty bullshit.
We forget when we are stuck in the moment that we are more than the unpleasant stench of the swamp. We think that is what we are, rather than what we are in. We define ourselves by our situation, rather than define ourselves as we are and the situation as it is. We must liberate ourselves from feeling like we have to react, like we have to play out the drama of the role we may have been cast in. We don’t have to participate in the stories we are told.