Rule No. 2: 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

13 thoughts on “Rule No. 2: You Will Learn Lessons

    • Hi Rara! “the beauty of the common hours” caught my attention too this time around – lovely, isn’t it? I’ve an instant vision of gardens, sun warmed walls, and footsteps just out of sight…

      Laughter. These are the things I think about when I’m alone…


  1. Hunt,

    It is 730am here, this is the second post I have read for the day, and already my head is spinning. Reading this was a wonderful journey of sorts. More than once I have looked into my past and asked the question would I change an event, or the outcome of an event. Time and time again the answer has been NO. Each event was or has been linked to another, some outcomes positive, some outcomes negative. But changing one event 20 or 30, 40 years, even a lifetime ago clearly has impact all around it. I know who I am today, I know what I know because of who I am, I know who influences me, and I know the direction I am going. If such events could be changed, they would have to be done unbeknown to me, so I could live thru and create the new history without worry of the new consequences. I need to stop, such a wonderfully interesting post. I would/will have a difficult time passing the test on this section of the course. I would like not to be ill, but I think that even if I could go back to the point where my illness started and changed it, even that change and the ripples from it would change everything else so dramatically I don’t know if it would be worth it to me, to those who have suffered because of my illness, and for those whose suffering I have ease a tiny bit, yes it is a steep price, but it is a price I feel I must pay. I really need to stop, my response could end up longer than the lesson. Thank you for such a buffet of thoughts coming from this lesson. Take care, Bill


    • Bill,

      You make me stand up and cheer. This was exactly the point, to get some thinking going, some reflection, a view of 180 – maybe 360. Might make a good post for you, Bill.

      I was so hoping that whomever read this would not just breeze thru, but take time to hear those questions reverberating and answer a few (I’m ambitious – I’m hoping someone(s) would really answer ’em all… for themselves and for no one else.)

      I used to visualize the next step after The Intruder where the Soul goes on a vacation and puts me in charge – able to look out ahead and see consequences to every decision. Would I even be able to make a decision?


      • Hunt, you would clearly be large and in charge. You would be the one to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. But without a doubt you would make a decision. I was like that when I worked, right or wrong I made the decision. I didn’t waste time pondering. — Take care, Bill


        • I dunno, Bill ~ the most terrifying sentence to any man who knows me is, “I’ve been thinking…” 🙂 I spend an inordinate amount of time pondering stuff, but not in emergencies.

          One of my bosses said, “Look, Hunt, I’ve never had a good secretary. I am not sure what to do with one. You’re going to have to tell me.” (Mind, he was quite an authoritative guy so that might last about an hour). I remember saying something like, “No, you are the boss. I would not be comfortable telling you. … However, if we are ever in an emergency and you do not do exactly what I tell you to do, I will take your head off your shoulders.” 🙂


  2. So many questions…but that’s what we think about isn’t it? I’m sure all of us do..sometimes knowingly, sometimes not.
    I’ve wondered and wondered about my purpose too..and what lessons I need to learn…and how am I doing and all that…then I remember…what matters is what I think about and how I live my life each moment…maybe that’s the lesson…


  3. Now I have been diagnosed with COPD, I do have a regret. I think Karma is biting me in the ass & it’s my fault. My first husband had bad asthma & he used it as an excuse to get out of contributing to our relationship in a lot of ways. I did not wish him any harm with his breathing, but I sure hated his asthma. I hated it for a long time, when I should have been blaming him for his lack of commitment to our relationship. Now I wish I not blamed asthma because breathing problems have come back to bite me in the butt!


    • Benze, if he is still alive, you could give him a call or send him an email and tell him so. I had a similar thought re my ex-husband – he had pneumonia and burnt the candle at both ends, drinking and drugs. He died at 42. The coroner told me something to the effect that he coughed so badly, he burst a lung and died. That’s my memory. It suddenly occurred to me how ironic if with the COPD I die of a similar cause without the “fun of drink and drugs.” Heck of a meeting when I reach Heaven. I still fully intend to clock him when I get there. 🙂


      • First hubby is still alive, but I don’t think he would believe me if I called to apologize. I think he believes I am still angry about our divorce over 20 years later. His father passed away a couple of years ago & I sent him a sympathy card. My daughter said he was “so shocked.”


        • Does it matter whether he believes you, Benze? It is actually for you, not for him… (a little laugh). 20 years is a long time. Initially there was a long gap between something I did and it coming back on me – generally, I did whatever I’d accused the person of doing. Then it got down to days. Now, it is within about an hour. Teaches you – well, me, to really try – not always successful, mind you! Because, by God, I’ll have to turn right around and apologize…


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