Present Tense

Let’s fix this mess…..

It’s become a mantra. “The world is a mess”.  We hear it and say it over and over.  The world is dangerous, it’s chaotic, it’s unpredictable, it’s a horrible place to bring children into.  All true, I suppose.  But, it’s always been that way.

Life on planet earth is all of those things and I’m pretty sure it was the same, even BEFORE all of us highly intelligent and highly evolved humans showed up.  It’s fascinating how nature and science are so orderly and rhythmic and yet life is so chaotic.  But, alas, it is.

We see this disorder and randomness in our lives everyday, but we never can quite grasp it as the natural order.  We still believe that if we follow the rules, eat right, brush and floss and pay our taxes, we’ll be okay.  All of those things won’t hurt, but if we’re honest and awake, we know that as the old bumper stickers used to warn us, “Shit Happens”.

The key is how do we react to ‘shit happening’?  I’ve often thought  that I live a charmed life.  Things just seem to work out for me and I look around and see so many people that have had really awful things to deal with.  My parents are still alive at 92, my siblings are alive and healthy.  I am alive, healthy and professionally successful.  What on earth do I know about suffering?

Well, I’m a recovering alcoholic and I’ve been on and off the wagon several times.  I spent time in jail…in two different states.  The drinking was very damaging to me and to numerous relationships.  I’m sober, but never quite in the clear.  My husband was diagnosed with cancer 8 years ago and lost one of his kidneys in the process.  We got through it and he is cancer-free.  I’ve battled almost crippling self-doubt and self-hatred.  I’ve gone through several rounds of counseling and dealt with abusive co-workers and a hostile work environment in one of my first radio jobs.  So, there’s that. Charming, eh?

So many people that I know and don’t know have been through and are going through way more brutal things in their life, but my point is that we all suffer as humans.  Nobody really has a ‘charmed life’.  It’s all in how we deal with it and how we react to the inevitable pain, setbacks and trauma that will happen.

The first lesson is to realize that nothing lasts.  Life is impermanent.  The pain of this moment will subside, as will the joy.  Life moves on and very soon we’re on to the next thing, good or bad.  When you stub your toe going to the bathroom at night, it hurts like hell, right?  For about 2 minutes.  Then, it passes.  Even if it’s broken, it heals in time.

Secondly, practice compassion.  We’ve all been ‘that person’ who is rude in line, cuts someone off in traffic, talks loudly on a cell phone, doesn’t pick up after their dog, etc.  It happens.  Be patient and realize that person may be going through something extremely painful; they may not be themselves at that moment.  Understand that we are all flawed and capable of turning into an asshole in an instant.  Silently wish them well and let it go.

I guess my point is that if the world is a mess, it’s up to us to clean up our own.  We leave little human messes in our wake all of the time.  I certainly have and still do.  In trying to temper our reaction to events, we can make the world a tiny bit less chaotic and painful.  That’s all we can do.  We can’t control other people, despite our delusions to the contrary.  But, we can cut them some slack and even wish them well on their journey.  We all suffer together in our humanity.

Stay connected.  We can help to clean up this messy world, one person, one act at a time.

April 7, 2013 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , ,

10 Comments »

  1. Jane, this couldn’t have come at a better time. Needed this. Now 🙂 Amazing

    Comment by benzintensiveme | April 7, 2013 | Reply

  2. Reblogged this on benzintensiveme's Blog and commented:
    *This*

    Comment by benzintensiveme | April 7, 2013 | Reply

  3. Funny that you tend to write about things that hit me in the moment. I am beginning a new position on our campus that puts me in more direct contact with the kids and offers me a schedule that my boss will not have to “accommodate” my leaving early for MSW classes. On one hand I really love the contact I have with the kids. On the other, I took quite a hit in salary. I know that it is the right thing. I know I can make much more of a difference working with the kids and they want me with them. Funny how the delinquents see the value in me more than my boss the LMSW. I have vowed to not be like that when I get mine. I also realize the early morning schedule will get me up and out of the house, which will be healthier. I look forward to the change. Take good care. But hey, we got a tax refund coming….

    Comment by Tim | April 7, 2013 | Reply

  4. Well said!

    Comment by Philip | April 7, 2013 | Reply

  5. This is another great piece Jane! You have no.idea how many times your writing hits home I am sure not just for myself but am sure many others. Thank you for the powerful messages in your posts!

    Comment by marge beem | April 7, 2013 | Reply

  6. I’m reading a book that starts out: “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.(1) It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” (2) ——- (1)Four Noble Truths-Buddha; (2) The Road Less Traveled-M.Scott Peck.

    I have also wondered about my own circumstances that I’m gainfully employed in a job I like, I have savings, a home, food, clothes… yet I can share the drugs in my past, my kids and their legal issues that break my heart, having been laid off from a long term job. Jane as you so eloquently say, it all passes. Thank goodness for time and acceptance. Thank you for a thought provoking post.

    Comment by Bernadette | April 8, 2013 | Reply

    • Bernadette:
      Thanks for the kind words. Some think that Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths are negative or depressing, but I like the whole reality of them. For those who want to know here they are:

      The Four Noble Truths

      1. Life means suffering. (or challenges)

      2. The origin of suffering is attachment. (craving, ego)

      3. The cessation of suffering is attainable. (practice, meditation)

      4. The path to the cessation of suffering. (awakened)

      Jane

      Comment by janelondon | April 8, 2013 | Reply

  7. Great post. I went to my Bible Study class this morning and we talked about this very thing.
    Jesus said it all back in his day!!!

    Comment by Marsha | April 8, 2013 | Reply

  8. My two favorite axioms: “This too shall pass” and “Life is beautiful”

    Comment by Big Sis | April 8, 2013 | Reply

  9. Thank you for another insightful blog. I can totally relate to your comment about feeling you’ve lived a “charmed life” even after reflecting on some parts of it that seem to be far from charming. At age 10, I had my leg amputated due to bone cancer (my parents were told my chance of survival was less than 10% – and I thank them for not telling me that until about 30 years later!), last year I had a benign brain tumor removed and there have been various other challenges health wise and in other areas for my family members, but I choose not to focus on the “suffering” aspect of them. I like the word challenge in it’s place – that seems to make the situation something that you can choose to take on and overcome.

    I wonder how much of it has to do with not playing the role of victim and knowing that, yes, life is messy, but you make the best of it, hopefully learn something along the way and move on through it – a little wiser now and with more compassion.

    Comment by Annie Bitsie | April 9, 2013 | Reply


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