As some of you are aware, my father passed away this week. He is pictured above with my mom and my son about seven years ago.
I am deeply grateful for all the messages I have received – written and unwritten – of understanding and support.
Even though I spend my days coaching people to be with the discomfort that comes with being human, I still find myself searching for a way to bypass the pain. Especially when I close my eyes at night.
I know this is a time when many of us are seeking a remedy to what we feel.
I have been reminded a lot these days of the choice we face when encountering loss, brokenheartedness, uncertainty, and anxiety. There is the choice to contract and harden. There is the choice to open and soften.
It is challenging to grow and connect when we are wearing thick, tight armor. Of course, there is vulnerability when we choose not to don a protective covering – we risk being known with all of our quirks and insecurities, and we risk being hurt.
There is wisdom that comes from bringing careful, honest attention to the truth of our own experience. We can see that peace does not come from our efforts to avoid discomfort. Peace comes from our ability to accept that discomfort is a normal, healthy, inescapable part of the human experience.
We do not have to suppress or wallow in our anxiety, uncertainty or fear. We can acknowledge them and feel the sensations directly in our body. And we can move our attention and energy into purposefully serving our values, commitments and relationships.
There is no escape from the messiness of the human experience. There is no way to be objectively certain about what the next moment will bring or how long discomfort will last. There is a reason that happily-ever-after only shows up in fairy tales.
And there is love. There is awareness, acceptance and compassion. There is the authentic, hearty confidence that we are enough. We can trust that we are up to feeling and living life deeply – even in the moments when we really feel that we aren’t up to it.
To be with what is, to focus on what matters, to serve without conditions, and to cultivate what we seek – these are skills we can practice right in the midst of challenge and discomfort.
Perhaps most importantly, we can support each other. We can understand that each of us has a complex inner life that includes all kinds of challenging thoughts and feelings. We can listen to each other and be with each other rather than reactively trying to rescue each other from the human condition.
May we all find peace, love, grace, and confidence in a life that includes discomfort, challenge and uncertainty.