SHOP RED HOT HOLIDAY
"Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift."
– Mary Oliver
Messy and tangled, life usually isn't how we pictured it would be. Sometimes we don't get what we want at all. Sometimes we open up the box, and all we see is darkness. How do I react? With anger, heartbreak, and many tears. Naturally. But after I pick myself up off the floor, how then will I choose to respond? There may seem to be a thousand different reactions, but they all come down to one fork in the road: the choice between the road of Pride, and the road of Humility.
Pride's road looks much more attractive and appealing. Flat and leisurely, it's packed with people and lined with rest stops offering all sorts of treats to make us feel better. It tells us to throw that box in the garbage. You've been wronged, you deserve so much more! How dare this happen to you! Humility's is a much less popular route. On this course, nobody will fret over us or give us the attention or recognition we so badly seek. Humility will simply tell us to pick up our box and start walking gently down her road. Her ways are steep, but the view from the top is out of this world.
What if the darkness in our lives is simply something in need of transformation? Something that awaits the flicker of our light to shine on it and make it new?
It is so easy to feel slighted and wronged – that life dealt us a shitty hand. For so many people, this really is true, but allowing injustice and heartache to take us down the path of Pride will lead us to spend the rest of our lives desperately trying to grasp justice through recognition, entitlement, and vindication. This is not where healing and joy are found. They lie quietly on the road of Humility. A road that will not feed our desire for recognition or entitlement, but in the end, it will feed every need of our soul. Living humbly opens our eyes to the fact that we are simply guests in this world. Everything is a gift.
"Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that's all that's happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction. On the other hand, wretchedness – life's painful aspect – softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody's eyes because you feel you haven't got anything to lose – you're just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We'd be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn't have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together."
– Pema Chödrön