“Let the hard things in life break you. Let them affect you. Let them change you. Let those hard moments inform you. Let this pain be your teacher. The experiences of your life are trying to tell you something about yourself. Don’t cop out on that. Don’t run away and hide under your covers. Lean into it.” [Pema Chödrön]
How much of your day do you spend insulating, isolating, and anesthetizing yourself, all in the hope of moving away from fear and discomfort? Like a muscle grows stronger under increased strain and demand, so too do we grow stronger by meeting adversity head on. By embracing the hard moments in life, we tap into our greatest teacher and learn that we are not only stronger than we think but also beacons of hope for others.
“The moon is a loyal companion. It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.” [Tahereh Mafi]
We all need that one person in our life who is always there, reverberant in the background—at times, our sounding board, our launch pad, our anchor. The one person who patiently awaits you to become a different version of yourself each day. Who is the "moon" in your life? Who waxes and wanes as you go about the uncertainty of life, "cratered by imperfections"?
“Not a word passes between us, not because we have nothing to say, but because we don't have to say anything.” [Khaled Hosseini]
When we see someone we love struggling or in pain, we are quick to step in, offer a fix--simply do anything we can to take away that suffering. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to do nothing, simply bear witness and be present. There is transformation in knowing the difference between being there for someone and being there with someone.
"Everything in the world gives us back our own features;
night itself is never dark enough
to keep us from being reflected in it." [E.M. Cioran]
Everyone who crosses our path is a mirror reflecting that which is in us, that which demands we attend to it. No matter how dark a place you find yourself, seek comfort in knowing that the darkness will never be dense enough to smother the light in you, reflected for all to see.
"What matters is not the features of our character or the drives and instincts per se, but the stand we take toward them. And the capacity to take such a stand is what makes us human beings." [Victor Frankl]
Life is about ownership, but as a society, we've gone about this quest all wrong. We have interpreted this journey to mean amassing wealth and material goods. But what we really ought to be taking "ownership" of is everything inside us--all the good and the bad, and the niggly little bits we blindly refuse to unearth. We can start by unabashedly "owning" everything we are because it's through those cracks, craters, and crevices in our soul that we learn to embrace our humanness and make pathways to one another.
"A single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kinds of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives." [Henry David Thoreau]
There is no denying the comfort and reassurance of a well trodden path, but it's important to remember that these pathways are often well-worn and rutted in places. It takes courage and determination to step out and forge a new path of your own. Don't be discouraged by obstacles you meet along your way. Transformation comes from fearlessly stepping out onto that new path over and over again, knowing that beauty lies in the creation not the destination.
"I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night." [Khaled Hosseini]
Anger is nothing more than pain scratching and clawing its way out of our soul. Anger is cunning and tenacious, as it will keep its tentacles wrapped around our heart until we severe its ties through the power of forgiveness. Listen to everything your anger has to tell you, nurture it, comfort it for all of its lessons, but as soon as it no longer has anything new to tell you, let it go in forgiveness. And remember, the act of forgiving, more often than not, is simply whispered alone in a quiet room and rarely met with pomp and ceremony.
"Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living." [Jonathan Safran Foer]
The problem with a comfort zone is that it is inherently self-destructive. Like your favorite pair of old worn jeans, eventually it will become threadbare, you’ll have no choice but to go in search of a replacement. It is not about jumping into an unknown abyss, but rather strategically climbing into an uncharted territory filled with the riches of personal growth in the guise of acceptance, vulnerability, and freedom. You deserve a BIGGER life--Go for it!
"You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety." [Abraham Maslow]
The decision is ours, but we definitely have a choice! There is no opportunity for us to stay where we are. By stepping forward, we stretch our horizons, and we move through our fear towards what we are meant to become. Granted, the choice is yours to "step back into safety", into a smaller life, and into isolation.
When you're happy, you enjoy the music. But when you're sad, you understand the lyrics.” [Eljumar Alesna]
This is such a beautiful reminder that no matter where you are in life, and what you're going through, there is always something this moment can teach you—something that can nourish your soul. If you're struggling right now and it feels like joy has left you, then breathe and pay attention to what the message in the moment is. Most importantly, have faith that a time will come when you can bathe yourself in the love and serenity of the music.