“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
I’ve been thinking lately of how so much in life comes from not doing rather than doing. We think we have to achieve, perform, or accumulate in order to be happy, content, and/or successful. Or that we have to accomplish x amount of tasks in order to “be a good person.” We’re always looking for that magical thing we can do to make everything be okay.
But the truth is, we’re already okay. Just as we are. In fact, it’s only when we allow all of those fake trappings of accomplishments and possessions to fall away that our true selves can really shine through. I picture a snake shedding its skin, or a statue’s exterior crumbling away to reveal a more beautiful and authentic core.
In the same way, I’m finding that only when I remember to slow down and take regular pauses during my busy, task-oriented days (I am a graduate student, after all), am I really able to remember what really matters to me and appreciate the beauty that is always here. I was reading an article on Mindful.org earlier today, that made the point that suffering is all around us. BUT, so is joy. And that everything we really need to be happy is right here with us in every moment. It’s just that our brains are biased toward negativity. As I’ve heard Dr. Rick Hanson put it, it’s like they’re teflon for good and velcro for bad. So in order to not be swept away by the negativity that inevitably creeps in, we have to make a conscious effort to notice the good things and hold them close.
I’m reminded of the Native American legend about the two wolves. If you’re not familiar with it, it goes like this:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
So my challenge lately has been to make sure I’m feeding the right wolf. As much as I hate to admit, I’ve been catching myself with some regularity at feeding the evil wolf. The news will come on, and there I go, fanning the flames of some perceived injustice. Or someone will say something that annoys me, and I’ll continue the story inside my head of how inconsiderate, thoughtless, and rude that person is. It’s a real challenge to stop sometimes! Getting angry or feeling superior are powerful emotions and can be addictive at times. But for the most part, they don’t do anyone any good. So when I notice myself feeding that evil wolf scraps, I pull my hand away, as hard as it may be, and try to turn my attention to more constructive things. We need more good wolves in this world of ours. We have more than enough evil ones already.
So if you must do something today, make it feeding the good wolf inside of you.