life is an invitation
910 words, about a 4 min read
Life is an invitation. You don't have to enjoy it, to in-joy it, if you don't want to.
You do not have to live an enjoyable life. You do not have to look at the good in difficult situations. You can find issues—wholly justifiable issues, things that "should not be," things that other people would agree with you are bad, injuries that have been done against you, that you have suffered and/ or are suffering under even this very day—and you can make these unwanted circumstances the centerpiece of your life. I know people who have. I know I have, at times, in my past.
Besides the possible mutual agreement with those who will listen, and the passing pleasure that that companionship might give you, besides the satisfaction of being "right," the feeling of being justified in feeling bad, why? What good does it do you, or those around you, in the short or long run?
Let us face it: stuff we do not want to happen in our lives is going to happen at least sometimes. A difficult situation with a loved one. The uncaring actions of a stranger. An unexpected accident, from out of the blue (as most accidents are). An illness. The death of someone we care about.
Things happen. Stuff happens. Life is not always a smooth or easy ride.
I believe we can increase the amount of good that happens in our lives by conscious thought and action, yes. But I also believe, I also know, that not any one of us has complete control of our lives, or the lives of others. And that we would be foolish to think that we do.
So what if bad things happen.
I am not wanting ill for you, or for me. I want us all to live happy lives. But things we do not want to happen are likely to happen, at least sometimes.
Again I say, so what?
Are we going to let our emotions, our thoughts, our enjoyment of life, our in-joyment of life, be determined by circumstances only? By fleeting or sustained thoughts, by our current beliefs, or by life's whims?
We can live that way, if we want. Possibly, most people do.
But there is a smarter play.
We would be smart to bring all the good that we can to our lives, the lives of others, and to the world anyway. And in any way we can. In all the circumstances we can.
We can do so by making the good that is in our lives the centerpiece of our lives. And adding to it.
I think the pain we humans suffer is the knowing that, from our perspective, things could be better. That our lives and the lives of others could be better.
It is the old knowing of good and evil, is it not?
Dogs, it seems to me, and cats, too, do not seem to have this awareness. There is a dog I know that wags its tail and looks at me expectantly/ seemingly joyfully every time I come back into its/ his presence. It is as if we had been long separated. There can be eight homecomings in a single day. The tail wags, the head is put at an angle, tribute items (a small stuffed toy, a sock) are presented, before being playfully pulled away.
But we are not dogs. Even if, sometimes, it seems others (or ourselves) act like them.
As humans, we have some understanding that whatever our current situation is, it possibly/ probably could be better. This is where the invitation comes in. It seems that dogs mostly react to the situations in their lives, to their circumstances. We humans often have the choice, though, to not react so much as to respond. To choose how we act.
We have options.
We have an invitation to feel better and to do good. Life itself, our privileged life as humans, is the invitation. We can choose to be aware of a situation, including an unwanted one, and instead of focusing on what does not seem to be working for us, we can focus on what is working for us and others. On what is good.
Just the simple habit of focusing, primarily, on the good, while not denying but dealing with the bad as necessary, often/ usually makes the situation better.
This is not idle speculation. This is not baseless wishful thinking. I have seen this way of approaching life play out many, many times. I have seen that when, though I am aware of the bad, I focus on and act toward the good, the situation itself becomes obviously better. There is positive change. Change that I (and sometimes others also) can see. Things move toward the good that I desire.
Once we are in this practice, in the practice of finding and in-joying the good that is present (and there is always good present), then the good tends to predominate. Expand. We often find more good. There is more good.
That is my experience. Do you want to make it yours also? You can by concentrating on the good. It is a way of life which makes sense to me. It is a way I can add to world. Find/ make/ create more good. How you, dear reader, how you respond to this invitation, to the invitation of life that I believe all of us receive, is up to you.
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Marylander by birth
Californian since 1993
about Jake Knight