What REALLY matters to us?

This week has been full of mixed emotions for me. There have been stresses and strains, worries, ups and downs, highs and lows and most importantly, good times. Times catching up with good friends, happy phone calls from family members, important birthdays, and pleasant interactions with kindly strangers.

Sitting watching the early evening news a few days ago I started reflecting on some of the headlines and felt immense sadness when thinking of some of the terrible things decent ordinary people were going through or had had inflicted on them, sometimes with devastating results for themselves and their families. Many times I have written about the pain we feel as we watch the news and have to deal with often unfathomable occurrences and unspeakably dreadful actions, the results of which are beamed into our living rooms.  Then there are times we sit dumfounded as we witness the latest political debacle and the seemingly unfair systems that seem to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

And yet still we find ourselves sweating the small stuff when we go about our daily lives.

We may meditate, read every self help book we can, listen to all the podcasts about positivity we can get our hands on to help us cope with an ever tumultuous world. We may chant, commune with nature, speak to our angels and watch our diet. All these things help at times and give us nuggets of information and inspiration that many times prove to be invaluable. Trust me, I believe. I believe in trying every sensible (and sometimes not so sensible) path to acceptance and understanding. That path that shows us there is a reason for everything and an explanation for everything even when we cannot see it and rail against it. But there are days when it is really hard to stay focused and remind ourselves of all the ways of coping we have learned. These are the days when I guess we just need to go back to basics and remind ourselves of all the things in our lives that are important and reaffirm them.

I remind myself that the people I love and admire for their strength and the way they cope with life did not get that way because their lives always worked out. They got that way because stuff went wrong and they handled it. They handled it in many different ways and at different times, and they got through. I look up to them for sure.

We need to keep our lives in order. Of course we do. Most of us need to work and earn money to support our families. We need to cook, clean and keep our house tidy(ish) We need to keep ourselves in shape and look reasonable. We need to offer support to those that need it and need us. But I for one, need to tell myself in stressful times that the everyday petty trials and tribulations just don’t matter and will be mainly forgotten by next week. Even what we perceive to be major problems will fade to insignificance over the years.

I’m aware of getting older and my thinking is changing with the years. I see it more clearly when people around me are struggling. I can visualise possible outcomes and weigh up situations in a more balanced way than when I did when I was younger. This is both good and bad. On the one hand it is sensible to be prepared and to be empathetic but at the same time the buoyancy of youth is gone: the feeling of being invincible.  But life follows patterns, we change and learn as we go. Some of us learn more quickly  than others. Some young people have a wise head on young shoulders. Some older people never really grow up. This is all part of life’s rich pattern.

The question to ask ourselves, whoever we are, is what really matters to us, what makes us happy, what keeps us sane? Once we remember who we are and remember to reach out to those we love, and once we enjoy the simple things in life while we can, we will at least find it easier to reconnect to what is good.

But if I cannot change the world, I can bend when the storm appears; Do great things in smaller ways, Dry another’s tears.’

More Then One Way to Look at Things…

I read an interesting piece about choice today – how we choose to act and react. What do we do when things don’t go how we want them too? And how do we react when we feel things go our way?   Yesterday we woke up to the news that the  general election here in Britain had resulted in a hung parliament – not the news a lot of us wanted whichever way we voted. The day’s news programs were focused very much on the reactions of all the politicians, their demeanours and their varying attitudes. Depending on which party they represented, and how their own particular region had fared, there were mixtures of sadness and dismay, excitement and victory, tempered with grim resignation and ill concealed gloating. Then came the time to find someone or something to blame/praise for the way the voting went. Calls went out for resignations. Bitterness ensued. There was either defeat or victory but not much in the way of genuine selflessness in between.

I got to thinking about how we feel when we disagree with how our own particular country is run and the difference between anarchy and democracy. The normal definition of anarchy is to do with the condition of society, an entity, group of people, or a single person that rejects hierarchy. In practical terms, anarchy can refer to the curtailment or abolition of government. It can also designate a nation that has no real system. In other words we think of a country with no structure and a country that dissolves into chaos. We imagine riots and turmoil. All things most of us would fear. But if you think about the definition of democracy we think of the belief in freedom and equality between people, or a system of government based on this belief; elected by the choice of the people. The whole population. The power of the country vested in the people.

But is this really the case?  Is there a different way of viewing anarchy versus democracy? Perhaps it is easy to assume we have choice because we know we live under a democratic government , but actually do we really have choice? We still have to follow rules, we are still helpless at times and cannot always live in the way we would really choose. We have to live with certain constraints and can’t always follow the paths we would wish to. We have to ‘toe the line’ while we see others exhibiting signs of greed and power which we cannot challenge. How can this be when we have personally been part of the  electoral system and are supposed to have a say in how things are done? Perhaps with a bit more knowledge and courage we could hold more people accountable for their actions when they try and control our banks or our hospitals for example. Perhaps we can think of a new kind of anarchy – a compassionate anarchy. This may require human beings to be willing to be authentic; be independent and dare to rebel in a positive way that helps society question things that cause unrest, and live in a healthier way without hurting others. With a more unstructured but more equal society we would have to work hard to make things work and remain harmonious. Could it be done? A lot of us are used to being in our comfort zones. We sense things are not great but are nervous of trying to create change. We think we are lucky in the main to live the way we live now and this is true.

But there is not really any ‘right’ way. If we live our lives with purpose and follow what we feel is right,  do what we really want to do to make our own lives better, make the best of what we have, and be grateful, then we may achieve some balance. Whenever people act with integrity and for the common good, are kind and compassionate and want the best for everyone and not just for themselves and their own immediate world, then we have, automatically, not anarchy, not democracy, but the best conditions for fair and honest living.

Blessings to you.

 

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