The first line of “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck states, “Life is difficult.” I read the book in my early twenties when my father’s health began to fail significantly.
Though I would use the word challenging rather than difficult (semantics and connotation, for sure), I’ve learned it is in overcoming the desire to fight life’s challenges that optimism and hope are born. It is also in the challenges of life I find the most inner strength and self-awareness.
I now recognize that specific and narrow expectations around events out of my control (like that my kidney would allow my father to live a long and enjoyable life) produce the most angst and saboteurs. In fact, it is those very expectations that elicit my Chief Operating Officer of Control Mask. When his appendix ruptured three weeks after the transplant and he had a stroke the next day, I went into COOC over-drive. I micro-managed nurses, and even tried to manage my father’s infection by inviting it into my strong body. (I was all of twenty-five.)
It is in remembering that life is filled with challenges that I allow the pain and obstacles to be what they are – pain and obstacles in the moment. This acceptance of reality enables me to stop fighting. Once I stop fighting with reality, I can leverage the depth of my resilience and creativity in navigating the challenge in front of me.
The artfulness of living, I have come to believe is in accepting all of life’s complexities and realities – the love, connection and beauty as well as the sorrow, mistakes and ugliness. The space of Yes/And is powerful in Improv and in life. This perspective invites us to stay open to possibility, even when our first inclination is to fight or shut down.
When I stand in optimism for the best possible outcome and expectancy of miracles, I can release having to know the cursed how’s of trying to make something happen. This release is permission to experience magic / synchronicity / the divine in me and everyone else. Even when, and maybe even especially when, I am experiencing the fear of great loss. I experienced these truths big time just after Hurricane Harvey flooded my mom’s home. None of us knew exactly how we were going to handle all the changes, just that we would, even if only because of necessity.
Today I am feeling peaceful and optimistic. Yet because I know life is filled with challenges, I don’t expect to feel like I just finished meditating every moment of every day. And, I can return to feeling that way as soon as I acknowledge the challenge for what it is, accept reality and release control.
Here’s to putting down the Masks and embracing acceptance of the moment.
How do you deal with challenges and life’s complexities? Please share your tips and strategies in the comments below!
Love and Light,