Life is a continuum. It doesn’t go in fits and starts, even when it seems to be lurching from joy to crisis.
Steve Jobs’ legacy for living was to help us see the bigger picture when we could choose to stay complaining in the dark.
Have you ever dreaded meeting someone because you knew they were going to regale you with the “Ain’t it awfuls!” You likely know someone who begins their conversations with all that is wrong with life, love and livelihood. It’s a downer. And, unfortunately, if we jump in the boat with them and paddle around in their water, we’re soon going to be awash in negativity, too.
I was delighted to learn that Steve Jobs and I have something in common. We both learned to keep walking, no matter what seems to be happening. It’s more than rolling with the punches. It is a decision, a choice, to keep walking forward. No sitting and wallowing, but maybe a little slower walking as we work through the events, circumstances, conditions or relationships that are troubling us. We’re human. Things hurt. But, that’s no reason to stop walking. There’s a whole lot more to life than just this troubling situation, and keeping the big picture in mind is what allows us to progress.
In his commencement address to Stanford University (Click here to watch the video of it.), Steve Jobs said that often, when he looked back on a time that seemed potentially devastating, he realized that he had benefited greatly from what he first saw as disaster. Most of us have that 20-20 hindsight. Our task is to learn to remember that when less-than-wonderful things happen. To remember, “This, too, shall pass,” as Persian Sufi stories tell us.
That’s how we connect the dots: we look at the road we’ve walked and notice that good–even, great–things have come from the moments we thought our life, relationship or career was done for, and yet, we lived to walk on. We triumphed over adversity. It was choice.
Sure, there are some things in life that take an emotional round out of us. We lose a long-time career to the seeming unfairness of budget cuts, and loyalty seems to have profited us nothing. We watch our partner of many years cast a roving eye over the young stock, or just the”live” stock, and choose to start a new farm. Or, we lose our house in a flash fire, or our long-time companion–human or animal–passes on and leaves us here alone. These things happen. It’s called Life.
I wrote a book called What You Pay Attention to Expands. You can find it in our shop with the others I’ve written. Here you’ll find the inspiration to choose what you will pay attention to carefully, knowing that it will flourish with your attention. If you want to cultivate misery, it works that way, too! Most folks don’t want to stay there for long and they don’t need to. As the Buddhists say, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
Let’s give up suffering and connect the dots. Pain can give us wisdom and the opportunity to choose differently. Let’s do that.