Life is what it is, and we spend much of our time trying to mold it into what we think it should be. This is a strategy that's doomed to failure, and that failure causes huge amounts of frustration in all of us--we think things should be a certain way, so we put forth effort to make life conform to our beliefs. But it just doesn't work. Yes, there are certain things we can accomplish, such as getting better jobs or changing laws to protect certain things or starting organizations that work for social justice, but when we recognize that the world is full of billions of other people also trying to mold life to their beliefs, we start to see that our frustration isn't helping us a bit, and that life will be life and it will go on on its own terms, with or without us. And that's perfectly okay.
Life is brimming with things to be discovered and known,
skills to be mastered, challenges to be overcome. And when
you are discouraged, dig a hole in the earth and think of
the possibilities. So many things can be planted in your lifetime,
skills that once mastered will bear fruit forever. . . . Pluck
up some enthusiasm for the business of life, for the loamy
matter that supports us all. Become a handyman and spread
your skills wide, digging deeper into the earth’s crust
to uncover its secrets.
When we get it through our heads that life is a process of discovery and creation, then we can start to act in ways that bring us to higher levels of knowledge, empathy, compassion, and wisdom. And then we can start being much more content with life and what it throws our way--we can start living our lives fully instead of thinking that there must be something more that we're somehow missing. The lives that we lead are gifts that are beyond our comprehension, really, and it's important that we do our best to make the most of those gifts.
But would you tell a gift-giver, "Thanks for the gift, but it should have been something else?" We all know that saying such a thing would be a sign of ingratitude, a sign that we don't appreciate the gift at all. And without gratitude and appreciation, the gift will simply be a waste of everyone's time. If we accept it for what it is, though, and try to make the best of all of its qualities, we can make the most of the gift of life by turning the lives into works of art, creative wonders that honor the gift-giver and the gift itself.
Being able to do this, though, requires that we recognize that if we're to live our lives, we cannot be passive observers of life--we must be active participants. As Shakti Gawain says below, life doesn't just happen to us; rather we create the conditions that cause life to respond in the ways it does. True, that person did something very awful to you, but how did that person get into a position of influence over you in the first place? We allow people into our lives, and we have the power to put them out of our lives, too. Perhaps you don't have enough money at the moment to do what you dream of doing, but you do have enough money to do something. When we lose something dear to us, it often turns out to be very positive for us as we let go and move on--if we allow ourselves to let go in the first place.
Many of us have had the attitude that life is something that happens
to us and that all we can do is make the best of it. It is basically a
victim's position, giving power to people and things outside of
ourselves. We are beginning to realize that the power rests in us,
that we can choose to create our life the way we want it to be.