More than anything, this time feels unknown, unpredictable, fluid. We never know what’s going to happen day to day in the world – and that applies to this pandemic and every day! We never really know what’s going to happen. We make plans and we trust they will be fulfilled . . . but we never really know. As the saying goes, life happens while we’re making other plans. Or as Robert Burns said, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
Going with the flow, adapting to detours and interruptions requires resilience. Not that we won’t be resistant and wish it were different; but if we’re 51% willing, we make it easier on ourselves. Just 51%.
Who knew that one day we would be going about our business and our businesses . . . and the next day all would be shut down, in one fell swoop. I remember being a bit shocked, even if I understood the reasoning. It was just a lot to wrap my mind around. It took some time for me to adapt. Eventually, I began to embrace the shift.
I learned about adapting and embracing through resisting a lot in my life. I was so resistant to change, shifting, plans derailed. I caused myself a lot of suffering by grasping, attaching to the way I wanted things to be. For me, it has been a very long process of letting go. Letting go has been invaluable in my life – which is why I talk about it so much. If I can say, so this is how it is now, and trust I’ll be shown a way to go with the new flow, the changed circumstances, I don’t suffer – as much. When I can just notice what I’m feeling, what comes up and breathe, trust, and be curious, life flows more smoothly.
“I teach suffering, its origin, cessation and path. That’s all I teach”, declared the Buddha 2500 years ago. These became the Four Noble Truths. A simplified (very simplified) way to think about these truths is: there is suffering in life because we crave or desire. Buddhists recognize that there can be positive desires, such as desire for enlightenment and good wishes for others. The errors of greed, ignorance or delusion, hatred and destructive urges are the desires that cause suffering. All of these are unloving. When we are unloving, we temporarily shut the door on our Loving Higher Self, and that suffering is the worst pain/suffering we can experience. However, Buddhists say we can cease suffering by following a path which can be called the Middle Way.
I think of the Middle Way as the path of Love applied. This path is not either/or but embraces all. It’s not this or that. We are compassionate to all, including ourselves and hold compassion for all that’s happening, no matter what it is. Someone is suffering. We love their light which they cannot feel. This allows us to choose to be more loving to others while taking loving care of ourselves.