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If you’re reading this, I think you know by now that some things don’t always go according to plan.
You might deny it or refuse to believe it, but deep inside, you know it’s true.
This truth pissed me off so many times in the past. In my mind, I always had a plan and I was damn sure it was going to happen.
I was 100 percent sure I was going to marry the man whom I met in my early 20s. I was also certain that I would keep the job of my dreams and never leave the house where I was born and raised. I was going to stay fit and flexible. I wasn’t going to lose any friends, change my career path, or move to a whole new state.
I could go on for hours, but you get the picture. You have something planned, then bam, it doesn’t go your way. It could be a relationship, a job, a health matter, a diet, or even a stupid show on TV. And the result isn’t as disastrous as we may think. When something doesn’t work out, something else does, but when we’re in the middle of an awful setback, it’s hard to recognize this fact.
School teaches us everything we need to know about math, science, history, and many other subjects. However, nobody teaches us about how to deal with a disappointment. And so we step into the real world without the proper tools that will help us navigate this crazy, filled-with-setbacks life.
Luckily, Buddhism has taught me so much about life—real life. The one that includes pain, suffering, grief, loss, and confusion. The one that is infused with imperfection and could never, ever, be perfect. Buddhists have long taught and believed that there is a high probability that things might not always go our way.
Everything we experience and feel is lost somewhere between happening and not happening. It exists in an endless spiral of uncertainty that we can never escape—regardless of our incessant efforts.
In Buddhism, the idea of things not going according to our wish is totally self-created. Buddhism recognizes that life is unfair and unpredictable and explicitly tells us that if we expect otherwise, we will, without question, cause ourselves suffering.
So, what to do?
These two quotes from the Zen monk Shunryū Suzuki might put your mind at rest:
“Nothing we see or hear is perfect. But right there in the imperfection is perfect reality.”
“A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it…In this way our life should be understood. Then there is no problem.”
Nothing is perfect, but there is perfection in that imperfect reality—if we choose to see it. Flowers will fall and weed will grow and many other things that we like or don’t like might happen, but, as Suzuki said, if we understand this truth, life will be less stressful, less anxious, and less disappointing.
Remember, the real solution isn’t somewhere outside or with someone. The real solution is within us. Accept setbacks and imperfections. Allow them to transform you and carry you toward a newer path—a better path, maybe.
Things might not always go our way, but they will go any way. We just have to move with them—not against them.