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Overwhelming Truths

I read an article this past week about the devastation and loss in Haiti due to the earthquake there earlier this year. Apparently, many of those who perished were young, educated people who worked in government or the private sector, or were going to university and had made the choice to stay in their home country of Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, instead of opting to emigrate to greener pastures abroad as did so many of their contemporaries. Many of Haiti's best and brightest young people lost their lives that fateful day, and the terrible sadness of that loss compounds when one considers the far reaching implications of this for Haiti as a nation, facing overwhelming odds as it seeks to rebuild amid the horrendous rubble.

Contemplating this scenario and the idea, in general, of recovery from any devastating disaster, whether that be a natural disaster or a personal one, I thought about the very natural tendency of human beings to become overwhelmed, how that state of anxiety is generated and how it actually impedes the process of recovery by reducing the energy available for the work that needs to be done. It comes down to our propensity for resisting what has happened and our habit of spinning out of control in our thoughts, which have a life of their own and can drown us in an ocean of despair. It becomes very important, then, to notice this mental phenomenon and understand how we sabotage ourselves, and our efforts to move on, at every turn. We look at our lives and think it shouldn't be this way and so we are, in effect, at war with what is, which is an incredible exercise in futility. What our lives are, they are. Cultivating non-resistance, then, could only have life enhancing consequences.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." Each day, instead of being at war with what is, we could mindfully devote all of our energies to attending to whatever is in front of us at the moment, one thing at a time, one by one by one, with devotion and love and steadfastness, which qualities, in themselves, promote true joy of being. 

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Reader Comments (2)

As Charles Emerson Winchester used to say "I do one thing. I do it very well. Then I move on." Life doesn't have to be overwhelming if you can focus on the one thing you need to do right now. But that's a big if.

March 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Walker

It is a very big IF for most of us, and requires a commitment to cultivating mindfulness which we are sometimes able to practice and sometimes not. It is a matter of changing our habits which CAN be done. It requires, first, complete awareness of the habit we are trying to change, and then the dedication to change which initially feels like rowing against the current, but over time becomes more natural.

March 22, 2010 | Registered CommenterConnie Assadi

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