Friday, June 16, 2017

Pretzel cones and other minor epiphanies

When I find myself searching for something - direction, answers, reassurance - I often re-read the Tao Te Ching, Rudyard Kipling's "If" and Max Ehrmann's "Desiderata." I am drawn especially to the end of the latter: "Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should...And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy." 

It appeals to me not because it is some immutable truth. I don't know if the universe is unfolding as it should. I look around and see so much hatred, violence and fear in the world and think how can this possibly be what "should" happen? I look around and see so much love, kindness and pretzel cones piled high with ice cream (This is a fantastic new thing it has taken me 35 years to discover and it is the best!) and think why isn't life like this for everyone all the time? I don't know who is in charge of folding or unfolding the universe. But I do know that it's not me (Lucky for all of us. I can't even fold a fitted sheet). Many things have happened, are happening and will happen that are out of my control. Things I like, things I dislike, things I want to change, things I can't change, things I don't understand, things that are depressingly unfair, things that are unimaginably beautiful. In a vast and ever expanding universe, I am impermanent, insignificant. And I find this comforting. It reminds me that control is an illusion. 

What I can't do: Control everything, or even most things. Especially not what other people think or say or do.

What I can do: Accept uncertainty, discomfort, change. Strive for vulnerability over defensiveness, curiosity over judgment and compassion over cruelty in my thoughts, words and actions. At times when I fail to do so, apologize and keep trying. 

Lyric of the moment: "Try a little tenderness, maybe some benefit of the doubt. Another person's point of view, try to listen not to shout. Hold your opinions loosely maybe you're not always right. Show a little mercy, and hold on to love real tight. It's a wild world we're all trying to find our place in it. It's a wild world and no one seems to understand it. But there ain't no way I'm gonna quit it. Love is all we got to give away..." ~Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors "Wild World"

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