Life brings you things that challenge you when you open yourself up to something new. Yet when flipped around, life can also open you up to something new--- when you are challenged.
This is my take-away from an amazing new page-turner I've been reading in spare moments at day's end--the time that comes before my eyes start to flutter enough for me to switch out the light. My friend Tracy introduced me to a writer and philosopher whose book is captivating me and somehow this Pema Chodron feels more like required reading with each turn of the page.
Currently I am reading The Places That Scare You. In my mind's eye it seems the adult philosophical sequel to the undoubtedly famous All The Places You Will Go. You know that one. Everyone I knew got a copy of that Dr. Seuss book as 'that token gift' upon graduating from high school. I remember thinking that sort of optimism was truly about charging forward and taking on the world. What on earth would make me draw this connection? Perhaps because Dr. Seuss was in many ways as schoolchildren our first introduction to philosophy, all bundled in bright primary colors, fun and whimsy.
Watch below to refresh yourself on this commencement gift classic...
Where Pema seems to pick up-- is that important little middle lesson that Dr. Seuss's book skimmed over--- exploring the place where you've lost and need to reclaim the wonder. It's that wonder and excitement that through 'growing up' one may abandon.
Somewhere along my road--through the fear acquired from naturally "fear-inducing" experiences I followed different paths and the places I went, or was on the way to going changed.
Yet, contemplating this sort of a scenario---regarding those broken bridges and detours as places I tend to look upon with bitterness really has never done any good. Concentrating only on the impossibilities of "what if" and "if only" would be a horrible way to live life, right? But in little bits I did that. Negative self-talk seems hard to avoid at times. Yet Chodron's words direct us to stay steady on course.
The HERE and NOW is where it's at. She emphasizes that there are no promises of fruition in life. She seems to lead us toward looking at joy and sorrow with a more complex lens. It is this challenge-- to look deeply at both joy and sorrow and have gratitude for both for the value of what it teaches us that triggers a profound change in our thinking.
This is also my take-away from several experiences in my life as of late. The old way I used to cope with the fall-out from new things that became dead-ends was counterproductive. New thoughts and new confidence are bringing me a different groove, so to speak,---a different way to look at those seemingly aimless detours.
Are dead-ends really hopeless? Or are they just leading us to an intentional re-route? Dr. Seuss planted the seed, but my recent read has clarified those thoughts. Disappointment, in matters of the heart or in matters of course, is going to be there. Whatever alternate scenarios exist in some other possible plain of life (the one containing unfulfilled plans or dreams that didn't transpire) aren't where I was supposed to be...
There is something comforting in letting go of an ache to go back and try to make it different. You can't. Now is what's real.
Thank you Tracy. Thank you Dr. Seuss and Pema Chodron.
Oh...the places you can go when you begin to let go of the harmful 'what ifs'.