Again and again I am surprised at how slowly I learn some of life’s best lessons. None of us enjoy misfortune and sadness in our lives, and yet it seems these are our best times to learn important lessons. Now I’m sure that the greatest moments in my life have been the most difficult ones. These have been my best opportunity to see exactly what I am made of.
How we respond to great challenges defines who we will become in the future. These are the moments when we finally begin to grow and change.
I can remember a few particularly difficult times in my 64 years on this earth. Of course we remember those times best. At the time I felt completely unprepared to face the challenges put before me. In fact, I can remember asking a much older and wiser woman back when I was 24 for some reassurance that my life would get better. She said it would, but it would probably take quite a few years. She was so right! There are no shortcuts to self-knowledge and wisdom.
When our life is going along in a safe but routine way, with few ups and downs, we generally don’t change anything. We accept our rut and hope for better in the future.
For me, it has only been when I was taken by surprise by others’ betrayal and rejection of me, that I knew I had to begin living a different kind of life. The greatest challenge then was to figure out what that new life might look and feel like.
These days my challenges all come from new health issues popping up after living a life full of mostly good health, but lots of stress. Yes, stress can be a great motivator for change too, but for me it was something I just had to live with because of the choices I had made. When you are as stubborn as I have been, it may take major drama to shake up your life!
“Have a sense of gratitude to everything, even difficult emotions, because of their potential to wake you up….” Pema
With a traumatic head injury and now brain hypoxia, I have been forced to change my ways. I can no longer go anywhere or decide to do two or three things at once. I must learn to be more focused, slow down and be much more careful with my brain and my body. I still fight against the need to slow down, but I simply must. When you cannot breathe, nothing else matters!
I also try to feel some gratitude, or at least humility, when my body tells me what we’re doing next. My body knows my limits much better than I do now…