Our days fly by in a blur. We stay so busy—and yet can hardly remember what happened a week ago. And before we know it, we wonder where the years have gone.
Maybe that’s a good reason to pause once in a while and just look a little harder and a little more deeply at the life going on around us—the people, the problems, the situations.
Who are these people? What’s this all about? What matters?
The French philosopher, Teilhard de Chardin said,
“The whole of life lies in the verb to see.”
Do you think that’s true? Can seeing—just seeing—make a difference?
Expanding on this idea, Hellen Keller said,
“I who am blind can give one hint to those who see—one admonition to those who would make the full use of sight: Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind. And the same method can be applied to the other senses. Hear the music of voices, the song of a bird, the mighty strains of an orchestra, as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow. Touch each object you want to touch as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail. Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never smell and taste again. Make the most of every sense.”
So here are five things you can do today…
You can look. You can listen. You can touch. You can smell. You can taste.
“Why does everything have to be so difficult?”
Because we’re alive?
In his best-selling book, The Road Less Travelled, Scott Peck began with these words: “Life is difficult.”
And it’s true. Maybe the problem is less with life’s difficulties and more with how we think about life’s difficulties.
That’s what the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke believed. He wrote:
“Be of good courage, all is before you, and time passed in the difficult is never lost…What is required of us is that we love the difficult and learn to deal with it. In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us.”
Loving the difficult—accepting it, working with it, even finding joy and humor in dealing with it…you have to admit, that’s a pretty good strategy for work, for career, for relationships, for whatever.
It’s like the Quaker man in the old movie “Friendly Persuasion” who tells his enemy, “I love thee, but thou art standing where I am about to strike!”
Learn to love the difficult, Rilke says, and the difficult will love you back
“I used to dream about living the adventure, but now I’m bogged down in the swamp of all the petty, piddly stuff I have to do and put up with. But one of these days…”
But what if “one of these days” never comes? Someone has said, “Live each day as if it were your last, and one of these days you’ll be right!”
Does this mean we have to quit our jobs, abandon our routines, or travel to Katmandu to recapture the spirit of adventure?
Not necessarily. G.K. Chesterton suggests that we can find adventure where we are…in our inconveniences.
As he put it:
“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.”
In other words, we always have the choice of either being the indentured servant of whatever is happening…or serving the spirit of adventure.
What’s the single most useful advice that you and I could hear today?
Ann Landers, who gave advice to millions in her newspaper column, had this to say about that:
“If I were asked to give what I consider the single most useful bit of advice for all humanity, it would be this: Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye and say, ‘I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.’ Then repeat to yourself the most comforting of all words, ‘This too shall pass.’ Maintaining self-respect in the face of a devastating experience is of prime importance.”
I appreciate this advice, in part, because it tells us two important things about ourselves as human beings.
First, it reminds us…
You are more important than anything that can happen to you. You are more important, more valuable than any trouble, any failure, any disappointment, any loss.
And then it tells us…
You can face anything that happens.
Those are two very good things to remember about what it means to be a human being.