It is hard to remember what fulfills and nurtures us alongside the challenges and moods that disrupt our day. We can view all that comes our way with curiosity while comprehending what is, and isn’t, out of our control. Or we can push and shove against the reality of the moment, with anger and a why-me stance digging us deeper into a hole going nowhere.
“Savage and beautiful country” is how writer Diane Ackerman has described life. Poet Ben Okri portrays life lived as, “ . . . gently / with fire.” The Dalai Lama writes of our days as “whatever happens to us, whatever occurs—the arising of something and being aware of it.”
Somewhere in the spaces of those phrases lies a profoundly important shift in perspective. We can remember to embrace the paradoxical nature of our every day—the word embrace coming from the Old French verb embracer, meaning “to clasp in the arms, to handle, to cope with.” Or we can forget the paradox of daily life and fight it—the word fight coming from the Dutch verb vechten, meaning “a disturbance, [to] be in conflict.”
We can trudge, or walk lightly through this beautifully savage life— where both gentleness and fire are often experienced at the same time—where we cannot hide from whatever happens to us. We can also forget, or remember that we have options, such as asking a friend what flames or kindnesses they’ve been encountering, and just how they are coping . . . if pushing has exhausted them, or if, in a moment of grace, they grasped an outstretched hand that helped them become steadier on their feet.
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Calming Practice: Savoring One's Life
The good life exists only when you stop wanting a better one.
It is the condition of savoring what is,
rather than longing for what might be . . .
- Marya Mannes