It’s all about perception.
Case One: Walking down by the river with my nephew, goose poop everywhere. I think, “What a frickin mess! You can hardly walk through this shit.” – literally. My nephew shouts: “It’s a maze!” and starts weaving along the path doing a goose-poop slalom. It’s all in how you see it.
Case Two: I’ve been: a) hanging out with highly trained professionals chatting about things like the law of diminishing returns and thermodynamics and b) trying to build a writing career in a world of literaries, journalists, and media gurus. I think perhaps I am a total clueless rookie idiot completely faking it in a world I feel grossly unqualified to be in. The secret truth… I’m not special. Practically everybody feels out of place and clueless, we all have our fits of insecurity. Especially when you’re pushing the boundaries of who you are and what you know. Great science and innovation come from the people who have the courage to daily confront their own ignorance and limits of their capacity. Grass always seems greener, everybody else looks more together than we feel. But in truth it’s just a matter of how we decide to view ourselves and others.
Case Three: Climbing my way out of twenty years of chronic illness, I feel like I’ve slept through decades of my life. Like Sleeping Beauty finally awakening, only to realize her kingdom didn’t slumber beside her, but went on without her, and man, is she ever pissed. I’m just starting to build a life, it seems, and everyone around me has degrees and careers and families, and I think I’ve totally lost out on a whole life. The reality is I’ve been on a completely different journey, maybe one I don’t completely understand, and one that’s taken me places other people don’t get to go. A place where you don’t have to be eighty to figure out what’s really important (I’d tell you now, but that’s a whole other article); a place that teaches you not to argue with reality ‘cause you’re tempted with such a shitty dose of reality to argue with. Tragic lost opportunity, or bonus life most people don’t get to live, my choice.
It’s all about perception. My favorite Chinese folk tale is one of a legendary nun who had found peace and enlightenment. A man traveled great distances through great difficulties to find her dwelling in the mountains and asked her what her secret was. She smiled and said, “Thanks for everything, no complaints whatsoever,”
“Go home, and say: thanks for everything, no complaints whatsoever, that’s all.”
Grumbling, the man went home and tried it. A year later he again made the long and difficult journey into the mountains to find the nun. “Venerable one, I’ve tried as you said, but still, my heart is not at peace, what am I to do?”
“Thanks for everything, no complains whatsoever.”
Suddenly the man understood and his heart was free.
So I do that; I say thanks for everything. And when I can do it with all my heart peace fills me, there really are no problems and everything is exactly as it should be. The shit is a maze to be run through with joy. And the rest of the time I say thank you through gritted teeth: going through the motions, trying to remember there’s really nothing to complain about, except in my perception.
Still having trouble saying thanks for everything? Try reading this.