The greatest gifts I’ve received from life have come unexpectedly, sometimes during a time of challenge, other times when I’m engrossed in helping another, and often when I’m simply open and grateful for the great banquet life constantly presents. I’ve learned to let go of expectations of how things will or should turn out. They don’t anyway. The more I let go of my demands on life, the more I receive and the more open I am to the incredible beauty that’s all around me.
A long term practitioner of Zen, I am profoundly grateful for this practice, which helps me stop, be still, and become awake to the simple treasures of everyday. I’ve learned to focus on what I’m doing, to open my hands and say yes to whatever comes along, to let go of judging, rejecting and turning aside from someone who needs me.
Of course this is an on-going practice, much like taking a shower and brushing my teeth. The natural tendency can be to do otherwise, to reject, refuse and insist that my life play out in the way that momentarily pleases me.
But I’ve learned that I’m not so wise as to know why things happen and what the largest picture is – or what is truly of benefit and what is not. A thrill today may be costly later. A difficult task done carefully may bring endless surprises and joy. A simple act done in love today has reverberations I have no idea of, like a tiny pebble thrown into a stream, which effects many miles away.
Although my life is only a few moments long, it often seems otherwise. I try to keep the passage of time clearly in front of my eyes. It helps me keeps things in perspective and aware of the preciousness of each day and each person who passes by.
The more I can do this, simply be planted in the moment and able to be with everything that comes, the more fulfilled and joyous I am, and the more able to reach out to others. I never feel lonely when I am fully in the moment, and fully with myself.
When I speak my truth, live my life, and be the person I truly am, I am happy beyond all reason, even though others may look at me oddly. Over the years I’ve learned not to care so much how others respond to me, certainly not to base my life upon it. It never works to turn myself into a pretzel to please someone else. It doesn’t matter. The little shot of approval I get wears off fast and can’t compare with the deep joy of being knowing and being exactly who I am.
I have stopped trying to figure life out. I can’t. I don’t plan much, strategize, visualize or try to control what’s happening. It doesn’t work ultimately, doesn’t bring the fulfillment I desire. Instead I learn to trust the waves of life and, the highest wisdom, to honor it, do what I can, and most of all to say thank you, thank you, thank you, over and over again. There’s that which is greater than all of us and the more I am with it, the more my life sings.