Support My Writing

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The adult version of “What I learned on my summer vacation “

Summer is almost over and I am taking this opportunity to reflect on some recent happenings of the last few months, both in my personal life and the world in general. And what a summer it has been!
The past few months have been more eventful and action-packed than I can begin to describe. Here in the United States, our government has certainly had a tumultuous summer to remember. Wall Street has seen its share of drama. The weather and other natural disasters has caused billions of dollars in damage and thousands of lives lost. Within this last week there have been earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and tropical storms pounding the east coast.
Globally, there is economic and political disaster looming in many nations. There are wars and famine and revolutions happening at this very moment. People are dying by the millions of hunger, disease, political, religious and ethnic violence. The past few months have witnessed bloody unrest, danger, fear and misery to multitudes of human beings. You don’t have to be a philosopher for all of these occurrences to give a person pause to think about these events and what they mean.
"Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating."
- Karl Von Clausewitz
“Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.” - Eckhart Tolle

“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” - Lao Tzu

Wiser people than I have written these words and the thoughts and message conveyed are timeless and apply to everyone. But how, in the face of all the recent tragedy and loss, can these sentiments be true or even rational?  

As we reflect on the turmoil that this summer has wrought, and the upheavals which have been taking place, we should perhaps focus on something bigger than ourselves and the immediate circumstances that can give us some measure of hope; or even the possibility of a belief in the greater good in the world. Perhaps in order to find some intellectual meaning or understanding in the “who, what, where and when” of recent events, we have to look within our own soul and our mind for the answer. But how do we find peace and calm amid the chaos and terror?

Life is not fair. It took me a long time to digest that old platitude. It seems so unbalanced and cynical, but in fact, it is staggeringly simple in its truth and complexity. Why and how is it that during a natural disaster, one house is smashed to bits and all contained inside are killed while across the street, there is no damage and all inside are safe and sound? How do we find a way to make sense of that random situation with such a tragic outcome? Well, that’s tricky.

Many people, me included, find comfort and solace in their spiritual faith and belief in a higher power. Some people find their comfort in thinking things out philosophically or practically. And some will simply have to find a scapegoat or become jaded, angry and cynical in order to quench their need find understanding or acceptance.
When all is said and done, each of us travels his or her own path to acceptance and understanding of the way the world works and the mysteries that occur every day. It is a daily struggle for most attempting to work through all the events that happen in our lifetime.

What I do believe and have come to understand, is that life- as terrifying, sad, unfair or heartbreaking on the worst day- is also filled with moments of sublime joy, astonishing beauty and unforgettable goodness. The triumph of the human heart and spirit, in the face of brutality, misery and suffering, is enough to strengthen even the most hardened person and inspire hope in the most hopeless. You simply have to open up and allow yourself to accept and have the courage to believe.

These recent events, which have brought so many people, from so many places, worry and pain, are simply a part of our imperfect world and the imperfect people who populate it. The natural disasters, while daunting and destructive, have no agenda or malice. They simply are.

Perhaps we must learn to accept that these events are a part of life, as are the individual disappointments and tragedies we encounter in our daily personal lives, in the tiny corners of the world that we encounter every day.

So, as I end my “summer vacation”, I am attempting to learn from the past few months and be as grateful, serene, compassionate and mindful of the good things, the just things, the blessings, joys and miracles around me. And to also accept the sad, tragic and disruptive without allowing the latter to drive me to cynicism, anger, or despair. Life is a beautiful and precious gift- imperfect and painful- yet priceless beyond measure.

What I have learned, and continue to learn, is that it is best to live each day as if it were your last. Love and forgive as if there was no tomorrow. And practice compassion and caring as if the world depended on it… because it does.

1 comment:

  1. "The triumph of the human heart and spirit, in the face of brutality, misery and suffering, is enough to strengthen even the most hardened person and inspire hope in the most hopeless. You simply have to open up yourself up and allow yourself to accept and have the courage to believe."

    This paragraph resonates with me the most in what you write, Diana, in yet another deeply meaningful and eloquently written post. Having known people in all categories you describe above, I have come to learn that it is the people who do learn to seek serenity and choose to look for those blessed moments we may all treasure, who become examples for all of us.

    Though it is rarely easy for any of us to overcome and conquer our own adversities, there is a clearly definable moment of absolute solace which enters our hearts when we realize we have the ability to see so far beyond what may feel as it defines us and our ability to make a positive difference.

    If we allow ourselves to look far enough beyond pain, turmoil and the very bad things which occur daily in our world, we do indeed see the "goodness" and beauty by which we are surrounded. In doing so, I believe we naturally become more compassionate, kind and grateful. It is in feeling genuine gratitude for those moments in which we allow ourselves to see "goodness" that we become a little stronger. Then, when we are faced with another crisis, or see again news of tragedies around the world which may otherwise make us feel helpless, we instead become an extension of that "goodness," and it is in our reaching out that we realize any of us, even in the smallest acts of kindness or gestures of genuine and heartfelt compassion, may make a difference.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughtful insights. I always feel as I either learn something new or reaffirm something I already believe, whenever I read your words. It always feels as a gift received.