Ramble # 71 It Is (Part 2)Posted: October 22, 2013
When I heard the news about Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson’s 2-year-old biological son dying because the mother’s boyfriend assaulted him, I cringed imagining what that pain would feel like as a parent. Then I felt a small bit of relief when I got the news that Adrian had never even met the child. That doesn’t lessen the blow for someone out there who lost a relative that had only lived for two years.
And the kid had a father who was the caretaker, and that guy had to learn of his child’s death due to the hands of another man in a situation he most likely had no control over. How does one just accept something so tragic? How do you just wake up everyday with that weighing on your soul and just keep existing? I think if I knew some ancient Asian secret to cure my emotional pain and get over it, I most likely would deny it because there’s a time when we wallow in sadness as if it is therapeutic. Every bit of attention from others and every moment of mourning, as difficult as they seem at the time, also appear to be necessary.
There’s therapy based around this ideology that teaches subjects to embrace their private events, especially previously unwanted ones. The process aims to help individuals clarify their personal values and to take action on them, bringing more vitality and meaning to their life process, increasing psychological flexibility.
That term caught my attention simply because we stretch our bodies to become more flexible, we compromise our spending so our finances can cover what we need, we even expand the confines of our emotions so that we can reach new boundaries of love. But to alter our way of thinking, to modify our reaction to the factors that routinely bother us, doesn’t seem like second nature to most of us.
Studying for a test, memorizing and learning are all mind exercises, but flexibility of your way of thinking is something else. Something as simple as feeling “under the weather” and saying the words, “I’m sick” can affect your condition. And we all say it because we secretly like a little sympathy, and we remember what some of our parents did when we were kids and we felt sick. Their worlds stopped, they did whatever it took to make us feel better and we felt loved.
Acceptance, in this sense is defined as allowing thoughts to come and go without struggling with them. We can feel an emotion without rushing to judge it or label it as bad, or wrong, or even painful.
Another method is what is known as contact with the present moment. Awareness of the here and now, experienced with openness, interest, and receptiveness. How many times do we respond to a present moment with something we learned in the past? How often do we sit at our desks in anticipation for a date or time in the future? It is tough to smile at 11:36 AM when 5:00 PM is the magic hour of freedom. It’s hard to wake up elated about Tuesday when Friday is so much brighter. Acceptance tells you that days are no realer than sunrise or sunset, and your true unhappiness comes from your situation and the fact that you may have to sacrifice doing what you want to do, to do what you have to do.
That means that you would be much more enthused about life if you did not have to work for money. But you feel as though you need money to pay bills, to pay rent, to travel, and to have the finer luxuries of life. The truth is, plenty of the material items we regard as important for survival do not rank high on the “live or die” list. Your S4 or 5S does not connect to your heartbeat,
the latest designer footwear will not add years to your days, and what you drive, where you live, and the style of your hair will not be factored into your worth as a human.
Most of us are defined by what we do, even though the generation before mine would have been satisfied drinking clean water, eating wherever they liked, and getting a “good job,” while this generation wants more. We deserve more. We are insatiable creatures that thought it was wondrous when cell phones stopped roaming over a decade ago and were able to take pictures.
Now we won’t buy a phone unless we compare and contrast the quality of the camera, the speed of the Internet, and determine whether the smartphone is actually brilliant enough. Can you imagine trying to accept the bad news when your one-button shower device or your flight car isn’t functioning properly in the future?
Being enlightened sometimes sounds silly compared to being rich. And you still may not get what “It is” is really all about. I felt the same way when I saw that tattoo (see Ramble #70). I was ready to argue with Josh. Well what if you found out you had cancer? What if your parent dies? What if your friend gets murdered? Your house gets robbed? Someone punches you in your face? What about the people with handicapped children? Are they supposed to just wake up and make peace with God even though he chose them out of everybody to be afflicted with some difficult condition?
I wish I knew the answer to that. Or maybe it’s better that I don’t. Who wants to go to a funeral with the feeling of acceptance instead of sadness? Does it help to smile when you have something ailing you? I believe the process has something to do with identifying the root of what is bothering you, the worst possible outcome, and answering the question, “what can I change?”
There are plenty of times when you don’t have the power to change anything about a situation that is perceived as unfortunate, and maybe the worst consequence isn’t all that bad on the grand scale of life. As much as I attempt to put this into practice I sometimes flashback to being arrested and in a holding cell for a few days. Time moved at a snail pace, I had no device to distract me, I was hungry, uncomfortable, cold, in a dirty place and most of all my freedoms were taken from me. I thought about people with long sentences compared to my short stay but that didn’t ease my burden. I tried to focus on being free again and I told myself I would appreciate all the tiny instances in life that I encountered that were positive when I was released.
The only thing that helped me while I was standing in those cells for that time was appreciation of the experience because I knew my soul needed it. Some part of my life was going to be altered forever and it was because of that choice I made to end up behind bars for a period of time that was not going to affect my career or home life like a prison sentence would. It was like a glimpse of death or a peek into the future to see what road I could possibly go down. And then I felt calm knowing that this was a part of my journey, it was imperative that my soul needed this as part of its process of evolution. It was what it was. Every second was annoying, every minute I thought I was going to get out was a teaser, and yet still I accepted it as the pre-sent moment.
Can you compare your common cold to chemotherapy? Do you really have it bad when your phone is about to get cut off compared to the third world home with no phone in it at all, a water hose for a shower, and food they have to catch or grow themselves?
The man with no shoes must consider the man with no feet. As I type this with a broken right hand I am thankful for the left one, the same way we should all be reminded that everything we endure is an opportunity to grow until we can no longer grow anymore. And even then…it is…what it is.