Live: Engage, Explore, Experience, Express, Expand, Enjoy (a little E digression there…)! Also ache and cry and grieve and long. This is it, and it’s all for you.
What if we knew our life’s purpose with absolute clarity? What energy we could draw on! How free we would be from worrying about unimportant noise and distraction!
Even better, imagine we understood how to fulfil it. It’s possible, but it demands great self-awareness, intimately knowing who we really are.
What we unknowingly seek is our own wholeness - to express and experience all that we are. What stands in our way of finding it? Our own childish definition of the ‘me’ who seeks it, the labels we hide behind and the priority we give comfort over curiosity.
Ryan Holiday shows us how to apply Stoicism to modern life in The Obstacle is the Way. The underlying point is that life sends us what we need to grow and progress. But why or how is it that the obstacle is the way? How does nature lay this path for us?
Walnut and brass protect this homely space
From streets beyond, those others and events,
But the stranger still presents unwelcome face,
Reminding me of wages yet unspent.
Much of my reading tells me I long ago settled into who I am. Am I fixable? Are you? I think the answer to this has three parts: 1) a tough truth, 2) a reason for working on ourselves and 3) the prospect of a liberating perspective.
Don’t take an unhelpful stream of thoughts as yourself. You would do better to treat them like you would a persistent, annoying person spouting often contradictory opinions.
What if courage is just one manifestation of the willingness to bear discomfort? What if it is not fear that holds us back, but our refusal to bear the discomfort of fearful feelings?
I can access life’s fulness more frequently and for longer periods by opening my heart to What Is. I can build my capacity to meet discomfort more immediately and lovingly. It is worth the work.
Our egoic fortresses are the assembled constructs—images, narratives and labels—that give us the impression of solidity and independence from the flux of change that surrounds us. We hide in these redoubts in the hope of defining a realm of control within a vast sea in which we have none. But all fortresses are also prisons.
As a child, I hid splinters of myself that seemed to invite misunderstanding, rejection and abandonment. I now possess a richer set of capabilities than my young self did. But I’ve spent decades relying on the once-appropriate child’s toolbox anytime the splinters of me that that child hid away pop up to present themselves.