August 23, 2013

The Plateau to Enlightenment.

Sometimes the road to self-betterment stalls, and you’re left with a slightly uneasy feeling.

I’ve always been the sort of person who tries to improve myself.

I put effort into practicing both kindness and honesty.

I’ve spent a long time working on my natural inclinations towards worry and being quick to anger (and my subsequently sharp tongue).

Yet, the thing is, sometimes we just are the way that we are—and that’s when we need to work on acceptance.

Because we can’t always change everything about ourselves, even when we desperately want to and even when we desperately try.

Trust me when I say that I’m much more patient now than I used to be, though I’m still the kind of person who easily jumps to both conclusions and action, and that there are also moments when these qualities have worked for me.

Because that’s another thing: more often than not our personality traits can be viewed as a coin with two sides.

One is generally more positive, socially acceptable and internally easier to welcome, and the other is rougher, courser and, perhaps, less desirable to either ourselves or to those around us.

Today, for example, I felt ho-hum.

You know, one of those grey days where the sky drips a few tears and so does my ceaselessly imperfect heart.

I try so hard to be the person who I know that I truly am, and I still feel that I come up short—quite a bit short, actually.

And on these types of days, the world isn’t my oyster. It isn’t my playground or my jovial stage to share jokes and make my friends and family laugh.

Rather, it’s a cold and harsh place that I’m forced to inhabit and then unwillingly call home and I feel like I fit nowhere.

So on days like these, when my fragile chest feels like it’s filled with pointy grains of sand that serve no better purpose than to weigh me down, and my mind has a few too many cobwebs, I can’t help but wonder why on those other more positive and profound days I care so much about making myself a better person in the first place.

Still, I can’t help it.

There’s something in the core of my being that honestly believes that we’re here to learn, to think and to grow, both from our experiences and from our obstacles.

After all, life’s challenges are often what force us to evolve, and to become better—it’s these days where the sun stays behind clouds that usually offer hidden lessons, and hidden spots of sunshine that wind up peeking out eventually anyways.

And I guess I’m not even sure if most people are like this.

I’ve definitely met people who don’t appear to be working an awful lot on their social consciences, much less making their way down the path of more a meaningful, and less tangible, growth (call it enlightenment if you want).

And at the same time, on gloomier days, I’m reminded that sometimes self-betterment and self-growth resemble more of a plateau than a world-record mountain climbing expedition—because we need to include acceptance and love for the people who we are in this moment, right now, along with our efforts of improvement.

 If we don’t give ourselves permission to make mistakes while still maintaining a sense of tenderness, then how can we possibly extend that kindness and love that we’re seeking back out into the world? 

I think it’s true that you need to love yourself before you can fully love another.

So, unfortunately, my little temper might be larger than I’d like it to be, and my patience might wear thin a tiny bit too easily for my satisfaction, but I’m also passionate and hard-working—it’s the flip-side of that coin.

And I like me.

I like who I am, even on days like today when I’m sitting in my bed writing with a face that’s a touch too serious and stoic.

I like myself enough to remember that stopping to smell the roses is part of this road that I’m on—the one that leads to my higher self—because if we don’t periodically pause and enjoy the view, then we’re missing much more of the point than we realize.

 “Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.” ~ Lao Tzu

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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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