Sometimes, things do not go as expected

A large degree of life happens independent of, and often contrary to, your expectations. At first this may seem dismaying, but as you develop more and more awareness, you eventually start to realize that carrying around this jumble of expectations in your head is a burden  and that it gets in the way of being present in,  and responding to, the life you have.

Phillip Moffitt, Emotional Chaos to Clarity

Not giving up

It is sometimes through times of testing that we come to know what endures.

The Zen student, the poet, the husband, the wife — none knows with certainty what he or she is staying for, but all know the likelihood that they will be staying “a while”: to find out what they are staying for. And it is the faith of all of these disciplines that they will not stay to find that they should not have stayed. That faith has nothing to do with what is usually called optimism. The faith, rather, is that by staying, and only by staying, we will learn something of the truth, that the truth is good to know, and that it is always both different and larger than we thought.

Wendell Berry

The difference between effort and struggle

Struggle happens for all of us, so it must have  a place in the scheme of things, but I for one have spent way too much time struggling for what struggle can never accomplish. For struggle is not the same as effort — what is sometimes called “right effort.” We all need to make an effort in every area of our life …Life doesn’t just provide us with food and shelter as a natural right. Effort is a natural exertion of the personal will toward a specified end. 

But struggle is an added push that is born of fear. Ultimately, it is born of the fear of not surviving, of dissolving and disappearing, not just as a physical form but as a psychological self… Struggle will never get us the things we want most – love, meaning, freedom from anxiety, contentment with ourselves exactly as we are, imperfections and all. For these we need another way. That way begins and ends in surrender, in letting go of our resistance to life as it presents itself.

Roger Housden, Dropping the Struggle: Seven Ways to Love the Life you Have

Metaphors to live by

Spring is a metaphor for transitions. It moves from lifelessness to life and we move from lifelessness to life in each cycle of breathing. If we know change is going to occur we are in a better place to accept it. If we expect things to stay constant we are vulnerable to frustration, disappointment, and resistance.

Spring is also a metaphor for forgiveness. Whatever happened in the last season, life begins anew with no carryover resentment from the past. Spring reminds us, as Pema Chodron says, to start where we are.

Spring shows us the cycle of living and dying on a bigger scale do. Everything comes into being and goes out of being — changing its form.  Spring invites us not to become attached to things, even the most precious things in our life. The invitation is to love things wholeheartedly with the awareness that they will not be with us forever. And, indeed, we, ourselves, will not be here forever. The invitation is to not be afraid to grieve when that grief becomes necessary. Grief is, at times, the admission price to the present moment.

So welcome spring and your multifaceted metaphors for mindful living!

Arnie Kozak, on Beliefnet