How to turn suffering into success
I often wonder, whether or not I am headed in the right direction. I seem to be wandering around aimlessly. Hopelessly lost in a society that is quick to judge, quick to blame, and deathly afraid of change. I get inspired, I feel the fire burning in my soul, and I set off to change the world, but when the path gets rocky, I start to worry, and run back to that increasingly familiar place. A stagnant place, of strange comfort. Then, feeling the shame of failure, I commence to wallow in the mire of self pity. Fear keeps me grounded in this place. What will people think if I try and fail? What if I lose everything? What If I am wrong? But what if I could live without fear?
Fear Is Natural
Fear is good. Fear is helpful. Fear is something that all humans have. Without fear, the human race would have been drowned, eaten, trampled, or dashed to pieces before we had a chance to become a dominating force on this planet. Fear is not the enemy, and attempting to live without it will only lead to frustration.
If Not Fear, Then What is the problem?
If you are sleeping, and your house becomes engulfed in flames, your smoke alarm will go off. If you are cooking, and spill some grease on the range, it might also go off. In the first situation, you would be wise to grab your cat, run outside, and try to get some help. However, you would not react the same way in the second situation, even though the same alarm is going off. You would silence the alarm, clean up your mess, and move on with your day.
Fear is like a smoke alarm. It is programmed to go off in every situation that has the potential to cause death, dismemberment, loss, or even discomfort. Sometimes it requires immediate action on our part, but sometimes we simply need to acknowledge the fear, release it, and press forward. Inappropriate reactions to fear, not fear itself, is what causes so many of our problems
Fear, and our other emotions, are not meant to be navigators on our journey through life. We need to remain awake, aware, and in the driver’s seat, taking fear and our other emotions into account, but not allowing them to become a dominating and controlling force.
Lichens are perhaps one of the most amazing, and under-appreciated natural phenomenon. They are found in arctic tundra, blazing deserts, rain forests, rocky coasts and toxic spoil heaps. Growing on bare rock, tree bark, headstones, benches, and bridges. They can survive drought and extreme temperatures (Although they are vulnerable to air pollution and acid rain).
The secret to their success: Weakness.
Lichen is actually two organisms, working together, fungus, and algae. The fungus is unable to supply its own nutrients, and the alga is easily destroyed by environmental extremes. To remedy this, the algae feeds the fungus, and the fungus protects the algae. Each of them, without the weakness of the other, would have no opportunity to use its own strength.
lichens can survive in some environmental conditions in which neither the algae nor the fungi could live alone
Can we learn from this? Can we understand that our weaknesses are not something to be hidden, or to be ashamed of? Can we stop belittling and berating others for their weaknesses, and appreciate the chance to utilize our strength? What good do our strengths do in the absence of weakness? What use is a cure in the absence of disease? What use is forgiveness when nothing is done wrong?
Be grateful for your pitfalls, mistakes, and problems. Be grateful for the shortcomings of those around you. It is a precious thing to use your surplus to help one who is lacking, and a great gift. We could even say that we are in debt to those who we serve, and that they deserve our gratitude as much as we deserve theirs.
Understanding this is the key to surviving extreme conditions.
“Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.”
This morning was terrible. I woke up1 and walked2 downstairs3. I was extremely tired, as my four kids4 are constantly interrupting my sleep5 schedule. I went to the sink, and started washing6 all the dishes that were left from dinner7 last night. It was then that I heard8 a noise coming from the refrigerator. Click click…Click click. With a little trouble shooting, I discovered that the refrigerator was turning itself on9 and off, and was failing to keep our food10 cold/frozen.
It just so happened that about a month ago, my brother-in-law lost his house. He was moving into an apartment, and needed a place to store his refrigerator11. We offered that he could keep it in our back room12, and we would use it for a little extra cold storage. I spent the next half hour moving all of the food13 out of the broken machine, and into the one that was functioning properly. Late for work14,15, I ran out the door, and locked it behind me. At the same moment, I realized I left my phone16 and keys17 inside. I managed to break in without waking everyone up, and I was on my way. As I said, My morning was terrible, and I hope the rest of the day doesn’t turn out the same. I have it pretty rough.
- I am alive! I have been given a brand new day to experience life and enjoy the best of what planet earth has to offer
- I have legs, and good health! I can run, walk, dance, skip, and jump!
- I live in a house! I am not out on the street, and my house even has multiple levels!
- I have four kids! How amazing is that? Four small people to watch as they grow and learn.
- I sleep in a bed, by the way, safe from the elements, grizzly bears, cougars, venomous snakes, and the like.
- I have instant access to water that I can drink and wash things with
- I ate dinner last night! not everyone can say that.
- I have ears! and I can experience a vast array of auditory pleasures.
- I have electricity!
- I have an abundance of food! probably enough to last my family and me a month if rationed carefully.
- How convenient is that? A back-up refrigerator?
- Did I mention I live in a house? It has all kinds of rooms, even a “back room”
- See number 10
- I have a job, where I get to help people, and the work is not terribly difficult.
- I am able to leave for work, and know that my children are in the capable hands of my lovely wife!
- I have a phone! I can contact anyone easily and simply from anywhere I may be
- I have a vehicle! (Well technically it is my father-in-law’s. He is letting me borrow it since my vehicle is out of commission.)
It is amazing how easy it is to find things to complain about. Problems. I can’t believe that these are the kinds of things that leave me frustrated. Most of my problems really aren’t that severe, and I have much to be thankful for.