The French philosopher and Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said,
“The whole of life lies in the verb to see.”
Is that true? Can seeing—just seeing—make a difference?
In Thornton Wilder’s play,Our Town, after Emily dies, she is given permission to make a return visit to her life on her twelfth birthday. She walks down the street and says…
“There’s Main Street…Why that’s Mr. Morgan’s drugstore…I can’t look at everything hard enough.”
Later, she sees her mother in the kitchen with her twelve-year-old self and tries to speak to her (though her mama can’t see or hear her)…
“Oh, mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me…It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another.”
Emily is right, isn’t she? Life flies by, it’s so easy to keep our head down that we miss the wonder of life all around us.
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.”
When life becomes too routine…too taken for granted…too joyless…maybe it’s time to look at your ordinary life a little harder, to look with a spirit of wonder.
Who are these incredible human beings around me? And what’s their story, really? And by the way, who is that character in the mirror? And what’s really going on in my life?
The harder we look at ordinary moments, the more we begin to glimpse the truth that…there are no ordinary moments.
In his best-selling book, The Road Less Travelled, Scott Peck began with these words: “Life is difficult.”
When I first read that, I thought, “Well, tell me something I don’t know!”
Of course, our difficulties won’t kill us. But the way we think about them might. It can sometimes leave us feeling stressed-out, beaten down, drained, discouraged or even depressed.
And that’s just Monday!
The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke offers a refreshing way to think about the difficult:
“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.”
“Time passed in the difficult is never lost.” There is some benefit, some personal growth, something for me to gain from the difficult.
And I get that benefit by learning to love the difficult—learning to accept it, take it as a challenge, even find humor and playfulness in dealing with it.
It’s like the Quaker man in the old movie “Friendly Persuasion” who tells a man who had insulted him, “Friend, I love thee, but thou art standing where I am about to strike!”
Practice the art of learning to love the difficult, Rilke says, and the difficult will love you back. It will be your friend, your mentor, your life coach.
Is the spirit of adventure only for the young? Or only for those who can escape the daily grind and look for a mountaintop in Katmandu? Or only for those who have great talent or great luck?
Or is there a way to recapture the spirit of adventure right where we are? Is there a way to revive those deeper dreams and longings even in the everyday, even in the midst of responsibilities, even when I feel bogged down and stressed out?
G. K. Chesterton suggests that one doorway to adventure is—surprisingly—inconvenience:
“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.”
Now you have to stop and think about that one, don’t you?
The point is, you always have a choice: you can either be the indentured servant of whatever is happens…or you can embrace and engage whatever happens in the spirit of challenge, the spirit of exploration, the spirit of adventure.
You can decide: today, no matter what happens, I will serve the spirit of adventure—the adventure of being human, the adventure of being a unique person, the adventure of just being alive.
What’s the single most useful advice you and I could hear today?
Ann Landers, who gave advice to millions in her newspaper column, put it this way:
“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.”
Ann reminds us of three important truths:
- Trouble (as troubling as it is) is part of life. It comes with the territory. It’s part of our assignment as human beings. And no matter what the trouble, it does NOT mean that you are somehow disqualified or that the fates or God are against you.
We could tell the stories of many artists, writers and leaders who were empowered to make great contributions to life because of the great troubles they had been through. They learned how to accept and use everything that happened to them.
- You are more important than anything that happens to you because you are a human being, the most valuable thing in the world.
3. You can face anything that happens. You can overcome any hurt
Pretty good advice.