YOU WILL LEARN LESSONS.
You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called Life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.
What is the point of our being here, precisely here in this time and space? Why now, instead of the 1500’s or 2063? Have we been here before and we’re back to do a better job? Has this happened before and we’re just replaying it? Is time continuous with a past, present and future? Or does it have a loop, wherein all time, events and persons exist all simultaneously and we simply have to find the key to insert or delete the happenings we wish to change?
Would you truly change things if you could? Would you truly behave differently were you able to do it again? Many of us say we would. I find the ones who say they wouldn’t change anything, despite the pain, the most interesting people to be around. Yes, you may have regret or intense regret for that matter. Did any of us set out to be mean, to be hurtful? Being on the receiving end of someone acting mean is very discomforting and can be quite painful. There is a sensation of disbelief. “Why couldn’t they just ….”
The truth is we all do the best we know how, given the time, the situation, the stress, the needs of ourselves and others, our philosophies, our likes and dislikes, our capacity for empathy and our abilities to endure solidarity. Can you think of a situation where you made a conscious decision to behave like a heel? In retrospect, you can definitely see there was room for vast improvement – but, maybe, that was the lesson. You only needed to do it once to say to yourself when the tallies were in – “Yikes, that’s enough for me. I don’t need to do that again.”
So, back to the question, why here, why now? When you start stripping life down to a spiritual exercise, interesting questions rise up. Why am I here? How much am I truly responsible for all the events in my life? Am I really responsible for the events or just my viewpoint of those events? I attracted that? (Could be great or painful.) How did I do that? Why did I do that? If this is simply a play within a play, then are there any rules? When this is done, who will I stand before and report to? Anybody?
What expectations do I have or did I have when I began this journey? What was I looking for? When I found it, was that the answer? What would you do differently if you knew what you know now? Would you even get started or would you freeze in place for fear of putting a foot wrong?
Can you be content with your life? What would it take? Howard Thurman’s* question of being at the North Pole, freezing to death, with one or two hours left – “What would it take for you to die feeling you had accomplished what you came for?” Or words to that effect.
Are you living the life you want? Do you know what you want? What do you value? What will you fight to keep safe and why?
We have a certain span of time, no guarantees, no warranties, no underwriting, and certainly no insurance. A huge vault of possibilities. What’s in the vault? Who is in there with you?
When things are quiet, who do you think about, what do you think about? Are you simply filling your days or do you feel as though you’re clocking yourself — “Ha! I’ve been there, seen that, done that.” To what end, what purpose?
Where is the joy of your days, the beauty of the common hours, the tranquility you have worked for? The dream you’ve pursued? Do you do the things you say give you pleasure or are you waiting for someone else to make them happen? Does your happiness depend on someone else, their happiness, their dreams coming true?
To be continued…
* Fire in the Belly by Sam Keen
Note: This is part of the AWOL Manual, “When to Lay the Weapons Down,” copyrighted 1995, renewed 2008