Let me ask you a question; if you could go back in time would you make the same choices? Some would respond with a resounding “No” due to all the horrible experiences they had to endure throughout their lives. Others however, would respond with a resounding “Yes” as without having lived those experiences they would not be the persons they are today. What then is the “right” answer? Is there even such a thing?
I know this may come across as a riddle yet that is how my mind feels today, inquisitive. I figure many of us have these moments and perhaps do not give such moments the amount of attention they are deserving of. “Introspection is key”; obsession with a thought however, can be detrimental, yet ignoring these life changing questions can be deadly to our mind and spirit. As such this article is born, let us dive beneath the waters of our conscious mind!
Let me start with making something you already know crystal clear; we cannot go back to change our lives. Although time isn’t linear, our current perception of it, is. This means wasting time on ruminating on how we would have done things differently is of no use to you, to your healing and to your development. Accept things as they happened, this in no way means you cannot learn from the past or that you cannot use it to fuel your present choices, but to “live” in the past isn’t healthy, neither does it promote your sanity. Imagine if more and more people would realize with every inch of fiber of their being that there are no do overs; would we strive to be more conscious when making our choices? I certainly hope so, for TIME still holds her secrets, which despite all our “knowledge” and theories to explain it, we remain just as ignorant on how it operates and why; in others words “Isis still guards her secrets” her veil has not been lifted.
One thing that is possible however, is the ability to pay close attention to our mechanisms, how we operate and why; as well as paying attention to the life of others “only” to learn from their mistakes or their successes; in that way we can implement the lessons to our lives without having to injure ourselves in the process. After all “A strong person endures pain, a wise person learns what can be done to minimize unneeded suffering without living in denial”.
Today I would like to introduce you to 3 simple yet valuable lessons which we can all use in our lives. If you have children, these may be 3 lessons you may really want to teach them so they may have a better compass for life.
BE LIKE BAMBOO: This principle was taught by Lao Tzu; one of Chinas’ greatest philosophers. He said “Bamboo is not just a typical specie; it is a long and stylized cane which has a sublime characteristic: it gains strength after being bent”. There are times in life when it may feel like the world around us is crumbling, at those times it is best to learn from the Bamboo. No matter how hard the winds blow, bamboo remains intact because it has flexibility. As it grows so does its strength, this allows it to “stand up” against the wind without losing its ground. Many people have used the example of being like Bamboo to promote “no action” and congenial attitudes; which often means one is friends with “God” and the “Devil”. The misunderstanding of the analogy “Be like Bamboo” has often been used by people who have no knowledge of self or convictions of their own; often using the quote to hide their lack of courage. After all, keeping an open mind, analyzing all sides of an argument, is very different than choosing to blind oneself against atrocities.
An interesting fact about bamboo is that it takes up to 7 years for its seed to germinate; during that time, it builds its foundation, developing powerful roots. Once it decides to show itself, it can grow quite fast, up to 3 meters. This is the perfect analogy for developing patience; something I personally didn’t use to have when I was young and presently; at times; still struggle with.
The analogy can also be used to help us understand the power of self knowledge, self development and the need to build a strong foundation; that way no matter what comes our way, we can remain true to ourselves; not based on duty or dogma but because we understand who we are and why we choose to live our lives in a particular way. Bamboo’s roots are so strong they can stop dangerous land slides produced by heavy rains; likewise a person who works on knowing self first and then in healing and developing as a human being, will gain the strength to stand up against the crowd without losing ground, without feeling drained by the circumstances.
BE LIKE A COMPRESSION SPRING: Resilience in physics is the capacity a body possesses to return to its original shape when there is an external stress which caused a deformation. I want you to imagine a compression spring, the piece bends, compresses yet there is an unbreakable certainty, the spring 9 out of 10 times, will always return to its original form. No matter how much shock, the spring remains true to its essence. In the same way a person; despite trauma, stress, toxicity; can remain true to his or her essence. That is why Ancient Masters used to say “If you want to know the essence of someone, see who they become when times are hard”. This statement is a tremendous lesson, for often people like to make excuses for toxic behavior, often saying “they were in pain, so it makes sense they behave like that”. There is some truth to this statement, pain can make people react in ways often hard to understand; however is not the event but the unhealed parts of us or the masks we wear which lead us to react in that way. Where “essence” comes into play is when we bring time into it. For example, a person of “clean” nature may have reacted out of pain due to unhealed trauma or false ego; however his or her essence will demand for that person to look in and learn. A person of “unclean” or “immature” nature, will use that pain as a crutch for future toxic actions against others, always blaming the other person, never looking in and using pain as an excuse for retaliation. It is through the fires of life we are refined and our essences exposed.
When it comes to our children, let us teach them to recognize how what may happen externally to them, DOES NOT determine the essence of their soul and the power of “free will”; only they have the power to determine who they will become. Let us apply this lesson even in simple things like, how a low grade in an exam does not mean they are “dumb”, the same way a high grade does not mean such person is “intelligent”. Making a mistake doesn’t mean they are bad or less than others, in the same way a person who likes to do nice things to impress others doesn’t mean is a good person or better. It comes down to essence and motivation; for one can have a good motivation yet the action can result badly or one can have a bad motivation yet others will perceive it as good. The important thing is who you are at your essence; not what others perceive of you. If you had no one to impress, would you still like who you see staring back at you? Is your motivation out of humanity or a desire to be recognized and praised? Answering these questions can help you recognize what type of essence you have.
BE LIKE A GOAT: To better understand why in some countries there is a saying “You are as crazy as a goat” when referring to people of high resilience and strength, I will need to explain further. If you have noticed, goats and sheep can be similar; however, the big difference lies in their personalities. Sheep tend to follow and like to please. On the other hand Goats tend to be stubborn creatures that forge their own path.
A video made by Italian Andrea Batisi for National Geographic on goats, showed how these animals can climb up to 50 meters above ground. They can climb onto mountains where it seems impossible anyone could reach. They do so because they are determined to obtain a very important nutrient found on the salt which covers the peak of those mountains. As you can see then, their resilience and ability to find their footing where no other animal would dare, is what inspired masters to use these beautiful high spirited creatures as a great analogy on how to be oneself.
No one could imagine goats would dare go that high, yet they do; despite the challenge and danger, the reality remains “they can reach that high” The lesson to take from this; just because others tell you to stop, that you can’t reach high, doesn’t mean you can’t. Just because others set limitations to their self growth and their lives, doesn’t mean you have to.
When I was young I would not have ever thought I would come to a point where I would accept myself with all my facets and my own challenges. I would not have thought I would be capable of using my history to help others. I did not think I would live this long nor be able to care and provide for myself and for my family; given how much of a failure I felt like, and my constant struggle with Dissociation and PTSD; which often made me want to stop living. I didn’t think I could or should have children much less raise them; how could I? I thought myself broken, damaged, unworthy of love and incapable of expressing love within an intimate relationship. When I look at my life I see so many of those doubts gone, others are still there but life somehow pushes me through. I honestly believe it is because Life recognizes how hard I try each and every day despite how others perceive me. I am living my life more or less on my terms, still healing, still working on things but more importantly accepting the fact that I am who I am, and I like who I have become despite my PTSD, all the challenges put in my way and my own mistakes and failures.
So why not be like goats? It is their rebellious spirit which leads them to do things other animals would not dare. They can be part of a group or be on their own without any problems. I think that is something we can teach ourselves and our children. We can teach them to think for themselves, to challenge the status quo if they feel they have to; using reason. We can teach them to recognize FREEDOM from self deprecation or from self degradation. More importantly we can teach them and ourselves to aim high and then take action; for that is the lesson we can learn from goats.
As you can see all of these three lessons teach resilience and belief in oneself. These lessons are not mirages but can be applied to our lives quite efficiently; they also don’t paint a pretty picture based on false positivism but through action and the alignment of ourselves.
I will be a bit crude on how I finish this article; there will be things which will happen to us because that is just how life unfolds and there will be things which will happen to us because we act foolishly. The resilience of Bamboo, goats and the spring remains in their capacity to revert a situation to their advantage. This makes it clear that life is not about accepting whiplashes from others and simply lowering our heads; acting like an inert being, that has no choice nor power to do anything. On the contrary, it is a matter of learning to understand ourselves, our wants and needs (towards our development) and learning to pay close attention to how life unfolds so as to avoid unnecessary blows.
There are those who believe themselves “worthy” because they give their ability to think and the power of self responsibility to others; an easy way to avoid any type of “blame”. We need to learn to ask ourselves the hard questions “The event that took place, which has affected me…was it my fault or not? Is there a possibility that I can change it, annul it, or revert it in order to solve the situation? If not, how can I accept it as it is, in order for me to transmute it? What lesson is there for me to take so that I may continue growing? What small steps will I take daily to assure I have learned and as such not put myself in that same situation again?”
Those are good questions to ask ourselves in order to make sure we are learning self responsibility. With that said, once you have done that, we need to make it clear to ourselves what type of life we want to build and commit ourselves to it. It is good to take time every now and then to reassess our beliefs, our actions, and determine if they are still propelling us towards the life we want or pushing us further away…the choice will always be ours!
“Wisdom comes when you decide your unhealed wounds are yours to heal. You stop blaming your parents, your genetics, the past or life for not unfolding the way you dreamt about. You come to the realization that your destiny is yours to own; that is the power of free will, that is the power of your divinity”