I thought, when I sat down to write today, that it would be nice to share some uplifting thoughts with you. Something to encourage you and brighten your day. Something to reassure you that, despite the unprecedented series of upheavals we seem to be witnessing around us, all is well. But when I sat down, that seemed like a tall order. Hmmm. What can I share?
Well, I had a chance to walk through some awe-inspiring autumn scenery this week, and there was one moment when, immersed in nature’s splendor, I felt truly lucky just to be alive. Think of all the events that had to happen just the way they did in order for you to be here. What are the odds? They must be incalculable. Think of all the things that had to happen just for the planet itself to be here. Yet here it is, and here we are. Even if we have no idea what “here” really is or how we got here, or what life is all about.
I heard a lot of stories this week about things that were happening in my friends’ lives. About their jobs, their families, their relationships. I heard about the things that are worrying them. Computer problems, financial problems, health problems, social problems, political problems. And then there’s the behavior of the planet itself: the fires, floods, earthquakes, winds. Oh my. Whatever reality is, it seems we believe is just isn’t what it’s supposed to be. Didn’t it used to be a lot simpler? More certain? Isn’t it supposed to work more smoothly than this? And when, oh when, will it just settle down!
Maybe it won’t. Maybe chaos is the new normal. What if it is? What are we to do?
A poster I saw back in the 60’s had some sage advice. Those were chaotic times, too. The poster showed this old bearded guy in a wet, blowing toga riding a surf board atop a huge wave, his arms spread wide, his face beaming with a smile. The caption said, “You can’t stop the waves. But you can learn to surf.”
You can still find joy, and peace, and contentment even when reality is heaving like a storm-tossed sea. Part of learning to do that involves a willingness to embrace what is without wanting it to be something different: This is my life, right now. This is the experience life is giving me. This is life’s gift to me, it’s present. I can do with it what I will. I can treat it as an adventure. I can treat it as a challenge. I can see it as a mirror of who I am. I can choose who I will be in it. I can choose to let it in, to let it enlarge me. Or I can choose to push it out and make me small. I can see it as a chance to use my strengths, or I can blame it as a showcase of my weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Perhaps I can find comfort in it, or give comfort to others. I can use it to create, or to destroy. It’s all up to me. Because it’s mine. It’s my life, right now.
And that’s the bottom line. Regardless of the reality we’re in, regardless of its unpredictable shifts and changes, we’re here. Alive. And that, in and of itself, is remarkable and wondrous. May you celebrate your being, and learn to surf the waves.