The Jigsaw of Life..
As you may know, I am a pretty direct person.
The form of spirituality I most closely adhere to is “Non-Duality” or the “Direct Path” going straight to Truth rather than through progressive steps.
And yes- confession – in non-fiction books I often read bits at the end first because I can’t wait to read a whole book to discover the authors conclusions! I skip to the end to find the gold and then go back to see how they got to it! (That’s why in my ebook “ Why we get ill and stay ill” I give you the conclusion at the beginning!)
So trust me when I say that I’m naturally a big “skip to the end” type of a person!
However, I have noticed a theme coming up in 2020 which I think is important to address, because I feel that if we don’t address this it will create more mental suffering in the long term.
In 2020, with the global pandemic as a backdrop it is completely understandable that life has felt restricted and that people are longing for more freedom, but this year,more so than any other year, I have noticed people’s need to skip through the “hard stuff” to get to the “good stuff” as if the good stuff represents some kind of “end” to the “bad stuff”. And it is this mindset of trying to skip past the hard stuff without noticing the value that I think is going to cause more suffering in the long term.
You see, a lot of people don’t seem to accept one very important truth about life: that the “aim” of life is not about avoiding the bad stuff and only experiencing the good stuff. Life is about experiencing all stuff without judgement so that we can experience all of life and therefore learn from all of life.
The sad truth is that if you had a life of just “good stuff” happen to you all the time, you wouldn’t evolve, you wouldn’t have to dig deep for your own personal truth, you wouldn’t have to question your choices, you wouldn’t have to resolve any problems, develop new ideas, foster compassion for yourself or others and therefore you wouldn’t really develop except in a very superficial way.
So the thing that most humans want; which is an easy life – is actually very different to what life wants for you! Life wants for you to evolve and grow.
Most people won’t evolve and grow without having to – why? Because we crave the “good life” and we try to avoid the “bad life” (do you notice the duality of thought? There is lots of stuff in the middle of these 2 concepts). It is this resistance to what we judge to be “good” or “bad” that means that we favour comfort over growth.
But if we saw discomfort as an invitation by life itself to evolve, might we resist as much?
I have learnt to accept that challenges and difficulties are what I need to grow in this life. I actually welcome them. But it’s a damn hard sell. I can understand that. Ask me 15 years ago if I would like to be ill with M.E/CFS and lose everything in my life except for my home and husband and I would have said “thanks but no thanks! I’ll stay as I am thank you very much!”
It is only through hindsight that I realised what an amazing gift it was. And how perfect it was.
Although at the time when I was ill, I had the beginnings of understanding this, I obviously didn’t want my whole life to change! I thought a couple of tweaks would have done it! But, my life was way off track and I needed a serious course correction! And I am truly grateful, that my illness forced me into making drastic changes. My life is so much better than it ever would have been if I had stayed as I was. The adversity changed me for the better.
There is great value in adversity: adversity changes us.
You have probably heard of post traumatic stress disorder.. But have you heard of post-traumatic growth?
Yes, it’s possible to GROW in good ways from traumatic events. People don’t talk about that much, but it has been studied! And do you know what one of the defining features of the people who grow from trauma rather than be consumed by their trauma display?
A mindset of “this too shall pass”.
Just take a moment to let this sink in. This is really important. The origins of this sentence goes back centuries and has been adopted across many cultures for good reason. Abraham Lincoln even quoted it in a speech made in 1859 as,
“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.”
This too shall pass, is the recognition that although in the moment there was something unspeakably traumatic that was experienced, there is a recognition, that it in the long journey of life, everything is impermanent, everything is transitory, everything changes if we don’t hold on,: there will be ups and down, ebbs and flows and yes, the pain will pass and as it passes you will learn something from this experience.
This too shall pass – was something I believed when I was ill. I would accept that I was ill “for now”, but it was only temporary and I would find a way through it, somehow.
You see, the Universe rarely shows us the whole path of our life . It gives us glimpses, hints, whispers and nudges. But rarely, does it give us the full picture. There is a very good reason for that – if we knew the adversity coming along the road, we’d all hide!
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs often talk about their own naivete or innocence about how hard it would be to launch/sustain their ideas/business. That innocence protected them – it was their innocence that meant they kept going! You can often hear them say, that if they knew then, what they know now, they might not have started! But the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other approach eventually got them to where they are now.
Resisting the hard stuff, is not only futile, it’s detrimental to the evolution of the soul, (unless you specifically chose not to evolve much in this lifetime and chose an easy life – as if such a thing really exists!)
The Universe gives us a piece of the puzzle a piece at a time because this is all we can handle!
If you have been on the spiritual path a while you will recognise the feeling of being like Hansel and Gretel following a breadcrumb trail!
The other day a friend was lamenting about being given one piece of the puzzle of her health , just one piece at a time and she wanted the whole jigsaw!
I said to her, “sorry but the spiritual life is one jigsaw piece at a time, so no point in resisting it!”
In my experience, just when you think you have the full jigsaw, the Universe hands you a piece you didn’t know was missing. Then you think “aha! The jigsaw is finally complete!” and then it hands you another piece.
This year especially, I have been sat deep in thought approx every few months and my husband asks me if I am OK?
To which I reply, “You know what?! I think I have just been given another piece that I didn’t know was missing from my work!”
Life is a never-ending puzzle. Just when you think you have the last piece, you see the cosmic joke! There is no end! There is no last piece (at least not until you reach full enlightenment). You are given one jigsaw piece at a time. You don’t like the piece you’ve been given? Too bad. No other piece fits. Try fitting a different piece into the jigsaw? Hahaha…. Knock yourself out! It won’t fit!
So I always advise people that you may as well surrender to the idea that there will ALWAYS be a piece you don’t have. But, the Universe is loving, it will always hand you the next piece, as long as you keep your hand outstretched.
Everyone wants “instant” everything these days.
And that includes “instant healing” – but there is a path back to wellness that is better than any quick fix because you learn about yourself and your life in a way that an instant fix could never give you.
People want instant weight-loss but there is a path to a healthy lifestyle that a quick-fix diet will never solve long-term.
People want instant success but there is a pathway to success that grows you so that you are able to deal with your success maturely, that overnight success doesn’t prepare you for.
Life isn’t about instant fixes. It’s not about avoiding the unpleasant stuff – it’s about embracing the difficult stuff, it’s about walking the path of life with curiosity not resistance, knowing that whatever is up ahead is part of life and you can handle it, because this too shall pass. No judgement. No avoiding. No resisting. It’s just life, giving you experiences to learn from.
This too shall pass, is also true for the “good times”. It acts as a reminder to savour this moment because it shall pass never to be repeated. The Japanese have a phrase for this: Ichigo Ichie. It doesn’t have a direct translation in English, but it can be expressed as, “in this moment, an opportunity.” It’s a reminder to cherish the good stuff because it too doesn’t last.”
What if we could all look at every moment, with the eyes of “this too shall pass, so what can I treasure about this experience?”
Could we even apply this to the global pandemic? Instead of asking “when will this end?!”
What if we all asked, “ what can we learn and grow from this, right now?”
“What opportunity is there in this moment?”
“ What have we collectively learnt from this shared experience?”
This pandemic has taught us many things already. It’s taught us about what’s important to us, it’s taught us about freedom vs social/personal responsibility, it’s taught us about inequality, it’s taught us about poverty, it’s taught us about racism, it’s taught us about compassion, it’s taught us about creativity, it’s taught us about charity, it’s taught us about connection, it’s taught us about home cooking/baking, it’s taught us about which roles in society are really key, it’s taught us about loneliness and isolation, it’s taught us about community, it’s taught us about pollution, it’s taught us about appreciation, it’s taught us about health, it’s taught us about governments, it’s taught us about accountability, it’s taught us about the environmental impact of our actions, it’s taught us about technology, it’s taught us about our resilience, it’s taught us about our strength, it’s taught us about our adaptability, it’s taught us about our relationships and families, it’s taught us about how governments have money when they want it (don’t ever let them tell you again that they don’t have the money to help the needy ever again!)… and so much more! Those are just the things I can think of, off the top of my head! I’m sure there are alot more!
What important lessons have you learnt from your lockdown experience?
Rather than looking at the pandemic as something terrible and something to be avoided, or gotten through ASAP… What if we could look at it as a genuine path to a better life for everyone?
I have noticed in social media circles when a positive outlook is offered on the pandemic people like to pile in with comments about the number of deaths, the poverty, stress and all the negative things people have been experiencing…but that is EXACTLY the reason why I am offering this perspective! Because from adversity we can create a better life for everyone. If we were able to learn from this experience, we could make life easier for others – not because we’re trying to avoid adversity – but because we’ve embraced it as a gift from the Universe to change course, to grow, to evolve and to create a better world for all of life (people, animals, plants and planet).
What if we could learn to wrap our arms around the “good stuff” and embrace the “bad stuff” with the very same enthusiasm!
Life is a journey – if you try to skip to the end, when you get to the end, you’re going to wish you had taken your time, that you had embraced all of it. Because it is all precious. All of it is precious.
Love life – choose every every moment, choose every experience. Savour it. It all plays a part in the story of your life.
When we recognise the perfection of life, we can let go of control and just allow the Universe to lead.
If we trust life. Life will give us exactly what we need to grow and evolve – one jigsaw piece at a time.