I came across something I wrote quite a few years ago.*IN SEARCH FOR TRUTH, UNDERSTANDING AND WISDOM*
- August 1994 -
“GRANT ME THE SERENITY TO ACCEPT THE THINGS
I CAN’T CHANGE,
THE COURAGE TO CHANGE THOSE I CAN;
AND THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.”
The Serenity Prayer
From the moment we commence our existence- life’s journey- we live towards its cessation. Ostensibly, it matters little, in the scheme of things, of who or what we are during this journey since we all end at the same destination eventually. Of more importance is the extent of ‘success’ achieved and; conversely, the perception of having lived a ‘good life.'
For many, mostly of the western genre, a good life is measured in materialistic terms; monetary and materialistic possessional wealth, all too often, symbolise the perception of success. Yet when we look at the Eastern cultures and all their values, we see much poverty, helplessness, and many other facets that we snub our noses at. We perceive them as lesser beings because a vast majority is unlikely to have what we are able to. Sure, much of what these Eastern cultures experience, and are subjected to, may not tickle our fancies yet most can live with the hardships and adverse struggles. Acceptance of this is usually not a choice for them. Many live in perpetual hope for a better life but all they have, the little it may be, is really all they need.
How often do we see and hear of those who have everything they could wish for but are still miserable? Why? What more do they need? Could part of the answer lie in the lack of happiness in their lives? Again, we question why? Could it be that for all the money they possess they cannot buy them the one thing they truly seek- love? More so, their riches cannot buy them the time to seek love. But, if money cannot buy love, and we cannot physically grasp this abstract concept, how then is it attainable? Where do we find love? Who will give us the answers? Nowhere and in no other entity will the answer be. It is not a crime to ask or seek assistance from others, or the various sources available but they must be used for guiding references since there will be no concrete answers found there. Ultimately, the answers lie within you; your mind, your heart, your soul.
Before we can truly understand the external world and all before us, we need to fully understand what is inside us- our spirit. Unfortunately, we in the Western world so often see spirituality as something to fill in a spare Sunday afternoon whilst the Eastern worlds find it as a way of life, inadvertent or not.
We are to busy living life for other's sake and not for ourselves; we are too busy bettering ourselves in order that we can be perceived a better person than someone else. We should live life for ourselves- not selfishly though, whilst also considering those around us. We should be able to live interdependent of each other with our own personal reality existing within reality as a whole- separate yet together.
A good life, to which we are always aspiring, involves a delicate balance of the aforementioned; a balancing of reason and compromise; finding the middle ground where we can exist at peace, and contentedly. For many, life is just so black and white. Grey does not feature prominently at all. It is within this grey area, a balance and blend - or connection of the two halves, where most do not see or accept as being possible. We, ourselves are a connection of the halves; we are being yet simultaneously nothing.... For a single positive plus single negative produce this.
Life is full of positives and negatives, of which the negatives are too often perceived and emphasised. Are not we born a positive energy filled being only to be conditioned by the infinite negatives of this world? Too cynical? Perhaps. In striving forward we should eventually transcend all things abstract and physical to return to our original state- that of nothingness. In traversing life we, too easily and too often, see and accept the negativity that encompasses us; that which holds us back from going forward. Individually we can apply this notion to ourselves.
All to easily we accept ourselves for what we are and not what we could or should be. We tend to behold a negative perception of ourselves and others. Very few individuals can truly claim they are at peace within the heart and mind. For those that aren’t, there are probably thousands of personal questions not likely to be asked for fear of being perceived as inadequate or unstable.
We are always striving to be someone or something, pedastalling our heroes, and trying to live up to the expectation of others. What is so wrong with being what you really are- yourself? No one else can be you so why not take advantage of this unique quality? No one else has it. They have their own uniqueness and how they deal with it, well, that is their business.
“I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadows;
If I fail, if I succeed,
At least I’ll live as I believe
And whatever it is they take from me,
At least I’ll have my dignity”
- The Greatest Love of All, Whitney Houston
How, you may ask, can someone be himself or herself? Simple- through loving themselves: being able to acknowledge and accept all the positives and negatives of themselves. Keep that which you like about yourself, change that which you don’t but first and foremost, change to satisfy your desires. Though, while doing so, do consider the desires of others but change because you want to and not solely because others want you to. The need for change is mistaken by many as the need to change only for others. Effecting a change to keep others happy will probably find you still miserable. Change must occur for the right reasons and not for change’s sake otherwise it could be a waste of time and energy. Why do that? It makes little sense. Then again, life is nonsensical!
We cannot love ourselves properly until we can understand what ‘love’ means. It means many things to many people. We can be told what it is like, how it feels yet until it is experienced we will never truly know. What then is it? It is not only the love for someone or something but also that which surrounds us. Every physical structure on this planet, inanimate or otherwise, has been created and filled with love. Love is a positive energy; it is never-ending; it is perfect. Like the circle, it has no end or a beginning. It is just there, our knowledge of it innate. We, as individuals, are the product of two people who ‘made love’: the sum of two halves.
If we can accept this as well as appreciate our mere mortal existence, however long, we should be well on the way to a ‘good life.' Though, this begs the question: “Yes, I can see that but how do I change all which I don’t like about myself?” In reply, remember that very little will occur instantly or even overnight. Changes will be subtle yet only occur when a person is ready. Like love, this cannot be forced. It will happen when the time is right, which is the crux of a happy existence. Change is a huge learning curve but........ “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.....”
As simple as all this may sound, a great many cannot see or understand this for looking. Are they scared of what they might find? Do they really want to find out? No one can justifiably say there is ever a moment when they fully know who they are- what would the point of life be? We are forever changing and learning about, and from, these changes. When we do stop learning, we should be dead. But what should be three of the greatest things we could learn of ourselves: we are our own heroes, own best friend yet our own worst enemy! If everyone and everything were taken from us, who or what do we turn to now? Who will guide us, comfort us or even argue with us?
“There’s a hero
If you look inside your heart
You don’t have to be afraid
Of what you are
There’s an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know
Will melt away...”
- Hero, Mariah Carey
If ‘love’ is a positive, what is its negative? Fear. It is easy to emphasize the negatives within a thing yet our own fears and phobias are rarely exposed or acknowledged. Do we really know what fear is? How is it experienced? Think for a moment..... Isn’t fear equivalent to pain that, in turn, is real? If it is real, it must be permanent, and thus a truth. Our phobias are truths we don’t wish to seek. Ever heard of the saying ‘the truth hurts!’ In experiencing a permanent state we are not changing or progressing, and in doing so, are we not contradicting another essence of life- change? We need to, and must, acknowledge our fears- accept the need for change- and then conquer them. How many of us enjoy pain?
Like our fears, we need to let go much of our past. Whilst we may remember many moments we have experienced, there is an equal number we’d rather forget. Why not cherish the good experiences yet learn from the bad ones? We cannot progress fully if we are still clinging to the past. We don’t live for the past; we cannot and will not live in the future; live in the present for we don’t know what the future does behold. No one does.
Manifestly, it seems our greatest fear is that of entering the unknown. Death appropriately symbolizes, and is the subject, of this. Why should we fear death? How can we pass judgment upon something we are yet to experience? The closest experience relative to death is that of sleeping or being knocked unconscious, initial pain excluded. How can anyone dislike either of these similar states? Death may well be an even more joyous experience than life itself, but who can say?
By understanding our fears we can adventure into the unknown with the security of realizing there is nothing to lose and so much more to gain. Consequent of this knowledge, we should then be able to give altruistically and still be able to accept what is given to us. We do and give so much more when we are happy.... when our morale is high.
‘What goes around comes around’ or conversely, ‘give a little bit of love and you’ll get it back’. The only place love derives itself is from the heart. The heart can only feel, sense. It is positive. Our negativity, ostensibly, stems from the mind; our perceptions, our ego. It is from our ego forever boosting itself where problems and troubles arise. The heart cannot think. It possesses an intuition or gut feeling that is right more often than not. When the heart is wrong, well, you can only learn from experience.
It is our ego, which creates our self-esteem, self-belief and self-confidence. It conveys an attitude all too necessary for us to survive. Our goal is to be the best at what we do- to be number one, to keep surviving; yet our ego is our greatest enemy. The human’s self-destructive tendencies are well documented and only natural since we are ‘striving’ toward death. Apart from sadomasochistic acts upon others, and ourselves, drugs are another avenue towards destruction. Manifestly, we do not truly love others and ourselves if we have a need for drugs. Whilst ‘reality’ or ‘mainstream society’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, what are we really escaping from?
“If you love something, set it free; if it doesn’t return, it was never for you in the first place.”
Cannot the same be said of our mind (through drugs or other) and emotions of the heart? Particularly for the masculine gender, society previous has perceived an outward display of emotions as unmanly, as abnormal. Who made the ‘rules’? What defines ‘normal’? To be comfortable we need to be freely able to express our thoughts and emotions without other’s perceptions subjecting us to ridicule, as is often the case. Man and woman alike, aesthetics aside, are born equal; as unique individuals. They each possess a heart as well as the innate knowledge of its emotions and attributes. If we are all individuals yet of the same brotherhood, why is society like it is? That I dare not answer!
Because of society’s do’s and don'ts we tend to privatize our thoughts and feelings by bottling them inside thus creating an emotional reactor ready to explode. Too many believe they are ‘the only one’ experiencing a particular predicament. Weight of numbers suggests this is not the case. However alone or lonely one may feel, doesn’t one have themselves for a friend? If one cannot find a friend in oneself you are in trouble. If you don’t love yourself, no one else will.
You cannot love yourself, let alone others, if you hide behind various masks and lies. That is not being honest or true to yourself- self-respect is paramount. You are not being honest to others. Beauty cannot be found in something not true. ‘Truth is beauty and beauty is truth’ ... which is something we all have. It may not be apparent to all but by seeing this beauty and/or truth in us, this will become so much clearer to see in others. Don’t we love someone, in every sense, for the good qualities they bring out of us, which makes them happy, and, in turn, us happy? ‘I love you because (essentially) I love myself!”
Too many cannot see for looking the love inside and around them. Many will never find it unless they are directed to it. They will never appreciate what love is until it becomes a personal experience. It should be at this point when their heart and mind can coexist comfortably and contentedly. Everyone travels at their own pace and some will reach this moment before others, irrespective of their chronological age. This should and will happen only when they are ready for it. They can determine this yet fate will ultimately decide for them... just like death.
Unfortunately, it would be naive to think life could be so idyllic when we could achieve a balance between the forces that be ‘us’ and the forces that be ‘reality’. A state of utopia may very well be a guise for death... But then again, who knows?
All we need is a little faith and belief in ourselves because... “... Just believe in me and I will love you endlessly.” It matters not the origin of these concepts, be they internal or external, so long as we know we are not alone and we can freely be ourselves. Be different- dare to be different. Be positive; do not eschew what you are.
Q: Is the glass half full or half empty?
A: Half full, I would suggest.
From learning what others and we are, we gain a knowledge and understanding that will assist in accepting life for what it really is... a miracle. Wisdom is a result of this and is interdependent of our relative intelligence. Wisdom is knowing when to live and let live; to change that which is possible. Intelligence is knowing how to effect change but wisdom will determine its necessity. Wisdom is being able to influence change by sowing a seed of thought, not preaching. Those with wisdom will let change occur by itself when it is not their place to change what they dislike. Wisdom manifests from the heart while intelligence is of the mind. Wisdom is also a combination of the heart and mind; a balance of positive and negative.
A ‘good life’ was experienced when we were children. Back then we were innocent, naive, foolish, sheltered- free of responsibility; idealistic. It WAS a good life then and still is now...“Why can’t we be ourselves like we were yesterday?”