with every failure you learn

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand
And chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn
That kisses aren’t compromises
And presents are promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes ahead
With the grace of a woman or a man
Not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your loads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in midflight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if
You ask too much.
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting for someone to buy you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
That you really are strong.
And you really do have worth.
And you learn. And you learn.
With every failure you learn.
-Anonymous

There is truly nothing to add to this beautiful poem.

 

click on image for the website where I found this beautiful garden

 

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how would you react if…?

If you ever think you’re too small to be effective,
you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito.
– Wendy Schaetzed Leske

Imagine if everything you do and everything you say impacts the life of another person. A little scary, isn’t it? What if you were a cashier and a customer came up to you and yelled at you for something that you have no control over, how would you react? If you knew ahead of time the outcome of your reaction would you do it differently?

If you knew ahead of time that if you screamed back at the customer and got into an argument and that yelling match was the tipping point in their life and they went home and hurt themselves or someone else or a pet all because they were already mad and your reaction pushed them over the edge, would you react differently?

I’m not saying what another person does or does not do is anyone’s fault but that person’s – we all have a choice – but what I am proposing is that a negative reaction to someone behaving badly can influence them to do things that they may not normally do.

Conversely, if you reacted with patience and compassion to that person on the other side of the counter lobbing profane words your way, would it help them to calm down? Would it help diffuse the situation and keep that person from making bad choices? Should you even care about the choices they make?

It is not up to me to decide if you should care about how your life impacts the world around you. It is up to me to decide if I should care, and I am learning that I need to care. We are all interconnected in ways too minute and too vast to comprehend with my human brain. But I have seen this process at work in my own life and it is a little frightening.

It’s like the old adage, ‘sh*t rolls downhill’ or the comic strip that shows the boss yelling at the man who goes home to yell at his wife who in turn yells at the child who takes out his frustration on the dog. The poor dog got hurt all because the boss yelled at the man. Everyone in this classic scenario had choices as well – the boss could have decided to speak reasonably with the man; the man could have let it go; the wife could have forgiven the husband; the child could have hugged the dog.

I’ve even seen this process at work with my cats. Three of them are former feral and are not that affectionate. One, Toby, I raised him from a kitten and he is very affectionate and pliant. I like to hold him on his back and bury my face in his soft belly fur. He hates that but because I am his momma he lets me do it. If I hold him like that for too long (a minute or so is enough for him), he starts to squirm and the more he squirms the tighter I hold him. When I finally release him (why am I so cruel?) he is mad at me but he doesn’t take out on me because, after all, I am the alpha cat, but he takes it out on the first unsuspecting cat walking by him. He swings his paw, claws out and hits the mark every time. (Hmmm, after writing this, I won’t be doing that anymore!)

Anyway, this bears repeating – we are all interconnected in ways we are unable to comprehend. Everything I say and do will impact someone or something else in ways I do not know. It maybe a small thing or a large thing. And even though the other person’s reaction to what I say and do is not my responsibility, I am responsible for how I behave. I’ll stop now – the whole thing is folding back onto itself now and I’m repeating myself! But it is worth thinking about.

 

The Circle of All Beings, The Pachamama Alliance

struggling with daily life?

Life has meaning only in the struggles.
Triumph or defeat is in the hands of the Gods.
So let us celebrate the struggles.
-Swahili warrior song

When I read this quote it reminds me of what Shakespeare said about the world being a stage and man a player who just goes through the motions of life struggling until the end comes. (That’s not what he actually said and I am combining several quotes together, but that is what I glean from it.) Anyway, is life really all about the struggles? If it is then that would just suck big time. I mean, why even bother to go on if all we have are struggles? What a yucky what to look at life.

I guess it goes back to what is our purpose here on earth. If you feel that your life is nothing but struggling to live, to make ends meet, to raise a family, to take care of loved ones and everything you do is just drudgery then why go on? Do you get up each day out of obligation? Out of guilt? Out of responsibility? Then perhaps it is time to take a step backwards, if not physically then emotionally and spiritually.

If we keep moving forward through each day in the midst of struggles and all we see are the battles then we are easily overwhelmed by them. The battles become all we are and life becomes meaningless. Sometimes seeing life this way is a definite chemical malfunction in the brain – if it is, see a physician! Get meds! There’s no shame in taking anti-depressants to keep the brain working properly. Without those meds I would have crossed over the Threshold many years ago, way before my time.

But even with a brain functioning normally (whatever that means) we can still be easily overcome with the struggles of day-to-day living. I think triumph or defeat isn’t necessarily “in the hands of the Gods” but in the way we choose to look at life. Try and go it alone and you will feel as if you are struggling alone. Go at it with God and you may struggle anyway, but at least you won’t feel alone in the trenches. God never leaves us but it is up to us as to whether we acknowledge His existence or presence in our lives.

And one day, when the struggle is done, the battle is won or lost, we will celebrate the victory of surviving and enjoy what our life is and how we live it.

 

Portrait of John Piper by Peggy Angus