It’s rather like putting a jig-saw puzzle together: I faff around with little pictures, a few of which fit together, but the overall image is a blur. And then, out of nowhere, it all falls into place. All the fragments suddenly make sense.
It happened this morning in the gym, I suddenly understood the missing piece…. Maestro, drum roll, if you please….!
I’ve spent a month attempting to imbue more of my life with the qualities of care and attention. I’ve found that it has definitely softened my character, challenged my ego and brought greater rigour to my thinking, as I’ve attempted to share the journey. But there has been something nagging in the background.
There have been some areas of my life where care and attention just didn’t stick. Issues that aggravate and frustrate me. And the reason is simple: how can I put care and attention into something that I haven’t accepted? Something that, with the best will in the world, I resent doing? It just doesn’t work: because I’m fighting what is, so there’s very little emotional space – or goodwill – left to create care and attention.
So, for example, finding a job that inspires me, where I feel that I can make a real difference and a meaningful contribution is proving to be incredibly difficult. And I’m angry inside myself because I feel a failure for not finding a job, for not settling for adequate jobs… (we’ve covered this ground before!)… so I’ve found it really challenging to bring the essence of care and attention into this aspect of my life. It melts as soon as I try to think about this in a caring manner rather than an angry manner.
Having children is another example. I’ve had to realise that that doesn’t happen when I’m ready – there are other forces at play! Again, all my internal thoughts have been of frustration, annoyance and disappointment, tinged with fear that it may never happen. And I’ve tried to skim care and attention over those gapping cracks. It didn’t work because my underlying thoughts were not of acceptance; I was locked in an unconscious fight with my own reality.
But now I get it… the anger, frustration and disappointment seem to have genuinely melted away (or at least diminished) when I just stopped fighting what is. When I accepted that this is how it is right now. Not how it may always be, but just for now. Perhaps now care and attention can begin to flourish there now, as they have in the areas of my life where I feel at peace. The key is feeling at peace and that, I now realise, only comes when I accept what is.
So, as I approach the end of my month, I have finally identified the first step!
Acceptance: not fighting or resenting what is.
Simply acknowledging that it is – without judging it as good or bad.