The Romans spoke of ‘amor fati’, the virtue of loving ones fate.
This undoubtedly evokes questions about our destiny:
Must we make sure that everything goes according to our plans or can we trust the surprises life has in store for us?
Are we here to get our way or to go with the flow of life?
Are we here to avoid pain or can we learn and grow from it?
Quite frequently in my work as a facilitator I am asked, “Why Me? Why did this terrible thing happen to me?” We shake our fist at heaven believing that some paradise awaits us if only ‘this’ were not there.
Moments like this are familiar in our lives when we find it difficult to handle anxiety and fight against human situations. Emotional maturity stems from the knowing that there are some things in life over which we have no control; so often reality refuses to bow to our command. There are unexpected twists, unwanted endings and challenges of every puzzling kind…as Hamlet said, “The thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” Hence the cornerstone of the recovery movement is the prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” Certainly a profound aspiration!
The ‘givens’ in life are the unavoidable, immutable, unalterable rules that are built into the nature of life itself. To me they are thus:
-Everything changes and ends…and begins again.
-Life is not always ‘fair’. Fair is a personal perception.
-Things do not always go according to plan.
-Pain is a part of the paradox of life.
These ‘givens’ are not unique just to some but to all of us and facts that we must acknowledge and accept in order to find peace in our lives. The truth is that they terrorize the mighty ego that wants full control which then encourages us to protest or dodge life.
When we live in denial of these facts we resist reality and life becomes an endless series of disappointments, frustrations and sorrows. It seems like existence is playing a spiteful trick to make our lives miserable, a cruel joke that seems like punishment.
These ‘givens’ are not essentially bad news. They have delightful outcomes too: for example, our hopes are sometimes exceeded, we discover unique inner gifts, things have a way of working out and miracles of healing do happen.
In reality, our fear of and struggle against these ‘givens’ is the source of our troubles. Once we embrace them we realize that they are exactly what we need to gain the courage, wisdom and happiness we’ve always desired. As a wise sage said, “we may not always get what we want but we always get what we need.”
Well, what more can I say? Open your eyes and your hearts_ there is no vengeful God and the universe is not vindictive! So the answer lies in accepting whatever is as it is!
Start by sitting in the saddle in the direction the horse is going. Sitting this way is called mindfulness! It is an unconditional ‘yes’ to the now without protest, shame or blame. Such a ‘yes’ is unconditional because it is free of an ego bias. When we say ‘yes’ we are mindful; we meet each situation with openness, curiosity and kindness and our lives are better for it.