As a family we have always considered ourselves to be lucky, from loving where we live to finding that elusive last car park space! We often quote the saying “luck is the crossroads where preparation and opportunity meet.” But what is luck? Why do I seem to be getting luckier? How do we ‘prepare’ for luck?
Looking after loved ones, particularly when they were previously our caregivers, is almost bound to present challenges. And yet it can also be an opportunity to connect with and express those deep levels of care and compassion that are naturally within each of us. The story that follows is an ordinary story of extra-ordinary resilience and love, sent to me by a friend who finds himself caring for his father, who is in his 90’s and in poor health.
Does it sometimes look as though life is a series of intellectual challenges to be solved? Do you find you’ve dealt with one problem only for another one to pop up, a bit like the game of ‘whack-a-mole’? Do you see a stack of problems coming your way, one after the other, like aeroplanes landing at a busy airport or waves crashing on a beach? If this is your experience, it’s no wonder you feel exhausted and emotionally drained.
It’s the simple, ordinary stories that are the most powerful in helping us understand something which is often difficult to grasp. For example, how does an understanding of the workings of our mind help someone reconnect with their natural resilience and mental wellbeing?
Intellectually, I came to understand that the answer to this question is ‘no’. Nothing on the outside can be responsible for us feeling anything on the inside; we only ever feel our thinking. But there stubbornly remained a niggling doubt in my mind when it came to sunshine; surely there is a causal link between the sun shining and my ‘sunny’ mood. During a conversation on our recent retreat, I had a realisation and all doubt disappeared for good. Now I know that ‘100% an inside job’ really does include sunshine!
I was recently inspired to write a poem about feelings. No-one was more surprised than I was, when in the middle of the night the words appeared to tumble out of me. I hope you enjoy reading my first attempt at poetry even half as much as I enjoyed writing it…
When asked to share his secret to a happy life, renowned philosopher and spiritual leader, Jiddu Krishnamurti said “The secret is … that I don’t mind what happens.” It is the minding what happens to us personally that is at the core of our struggles, because by its very nature we are being led by ego. When we surrender ego, we have freedom to experience the silence, the peace that is inherent within us all, to be at one with nature, with others, with ourself – the very essence of happiness.
I was reminded recently of a metaphor I’ve used before, of peeling away layers of an onion. Where the layers of the onion represent the physical form of our experience – how we feel, what we think, what we do. As human beings we are continually learning from our experiences and when faced with similar situations we respond in familiar patterns that reflect this. There is a ‘me’ memory and identity within the layers that is experiencing but there is also a deeper ‘I’ that is constant and unchanged by experience. In the absence of experience, I know that I still exist.
A friend recently expressed to me how she was feeling overwhelmed by all that was going on in her life at the moment. And there was a lot going on – a busy job, a young family, a new puppy, husband’s new job, the first Christmas without a close member of the family, not to mention Christmas itself and Covid! She was wondering how and when she could return to those feelings of wellbeing that she trusted were within her.
Life is like the sea, a mixture of rough, choppy patches, calmer ones and everything in between. There are weather systems and currents which seem to pull us in different directions. I would like you to come on a journey with me and for the purposes of this journey I would like you to imagine that you are a sailing boat navigating the high seas of life.