It’s not always easy to accept being the author of one’s own life, after all, that means taking responsibility for choices, decisions and paths followed. It also means taking responsibility for our unlived lives as well: those choices we didn’t make and those paths we didn’t walk. Life is rarely a case of either/or as we are constantly faced with a plethora of choices at any given moment, including the choice of ‘non action’.
The incredible John O’Donohue once said that: ‘our unlived lives travel with us in a world of implicit, latent, held over possibility’. Of course, we do carry it all with us, sometimes in the form of regret, sometimes ‘what if’ or ‘if only’. Often we’re not even aware we’re carrying it at all, its only when we reach a point of challenge in life that we usually go within seeking answers and come face to face with a lifetime of ‘stuff’. For some, such points create an atmosphere of overwhelming emotion, others reach a point of emptiness. Some try to push it away, trying to keep on keeping on, others buckle under the strain, some seek resolution and others become lost in a kind of ‘in-between world’ which lies in between the spaces in life.
There is no set place that one reaches where it can all feel too much as we are all unique individuals, each with our own perspective on life and each with a unique collection of coping skills. Despite our tremendous resilience as a species, the result of being strong for too long can lead to an imbalance within our hearts and souls. Yet, despite living in the twenty-first century, it’s still so hard for so many to admit to struggling, as showing any apparent signs of weakness is still frowned upon by so many. But why? We are sensitive, complex and in a state of constant flux and change. We are inter-connected bundles of life, filled with emotions, thoughts and a sense of being a part of a seemingly incomprehensible whole. Isn’t it only natural to experience highs and lows, too feel fragile and to feel a teeny bit broken at times? Isn’t that a part of being human? To deny this is to deny our humanity and to therefore live in a state of disconnection from the full spectrum of life. We can’t have the sun and no rain, day and no night, joy without pain.
Many spend their lives asking what the point of life actually is. Many more, never even consider the question. We live, we love, we cry, we rage, we pray and we grieve, and sometimes when we leap wholeheartedly into the pit of rampant uncertainty and unknowable destiny called life, we can get lost and slip into the cracks in-between the cracks in the pavement. Yet, when we fight it, we get stuck in a falsely created world of disconnection and denial which often leads to collapse. This seems to be at the root of what’s wrong in the world. Instead of accepting our fragility, vulnerability and fallibility, we fight it and try to convince ourselves that we can buck the trend. Yet, if we face it, love it and accept it, perhaps we can realise these are not weaknesses to be fixed or pushed away but a part of being human?
Loving and accepting our weaknesses is not the same as giving up or giving in but it’s a willingness to gracefully lean into life rather than pushing it away or trying to fix the unfixable. If we were able to change things we would but when we can’t it’s important we don’t bang our heads against the brick wall of life in denial or resistance, raging at the inherent unfairness. Life often doesn’t make sense and sometimes things happen that are unthinkable or unspeakable and out of our control. The only thing ever in our control is our response. Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to feel vulnerable and to experience difficult emotions as this is the pathway to home, to our middle ground. Living on the edge and pushing our boundaries is important for our evolution but there are times when we need to rest, recover and rebalance.
It’s a part of life to experience ups and downs, highs and lows, but its important to honour these in order to move through them. Each moment passes, nothing is permanent. Yet to fight or deny the lows denies us the full experience of life as they are no less important than the high’s. In fact, perhaps they are more important as they give us context and reference enabling us to truly savour and give gratitude for the highs when they come.No one ever said being human was easy but when we stop fighting ourselves and instead embrace compassion, love and tender kindness, although the experiences themselves don’t change, we do and this allows us to accept the completeness of the human experience and to thrive as a result. Whilst we will inevitably have periods of challenge, disconnection, fragility and of despair, those are a part of life but intuitively we know that, like the day follows the night, these too shall pass…