At some point in my life I acquired the notion that to live well is to live with riches. Looking back on when this notion actually became part of my everyday thinking, I can’t help but wonder how much of my time I have spent unwisely. One must take care of one’s needs and that I believe is without question. For if one cannot provide for oneself, how could one provide for another?
When I speak of spending my time unwisely, what I mean to convey is that each moment spent being dissatisfied, while completely a human thing to do, is a moment used inappropriately given that our time and capabilities while we live is finite.
Imagine that you are now old and feeble. Imagine that your entire life you have spent grumbling against the world or some such other perceived unhappy thing and now you are too old to do anything about it. You have few choices. The first choice is to accept the situation you are in. The second choice is to resist the situation. Is there a third or all the other alternatives just shades of the first and second? I believe they are only shades cast by either tree. Physically speaking, those two choices are the physical actions you take. Lay back and relax or try to get up. You can accept or you can struggle. I may be criticized that I am being a reductionist, but this entire example is quite simple so let’s not waste time further.
Now, the question is that with each action is there a mental idea that accompanies it? In the first, if the situation is accepted then the mind is resigned and then can look for another activity. In the second, if the situation is resisted, then the situation is focused on. It is twisted and turned and the challenge to overcome ensues. Joy can result briefly. However, as you are old, one problem is quickly replaced by another. You must struggle again. Eventually, your capabilities ravaged slowly by age, will fail you and anger and sorrow will result.
So which is the better path? Acceptance or struggle? It seems that the outcome of struggle is likely pain. However, is acceptance giving up? Is it giving in? Let’s hold that question and take the same example above and apply it to you as a young person.
In the same scenario, but with your body and mind young, is it best to accept or struggle? Surely, with the capabilities of youth, the struggle is not as hard as when you are at the end of your body’s time. You can deal and dispatch with struggles daily. You can have a string of joys for each problem solved. It can even become your greatest strength, this constant solving of problems. But, put time in and let it run for years. Consider that with each problem solved, you become more and more confident and happy in your abilities. You may even become well known for your abilities to solve and fix this or that. You may revel in this light of appreciation from others. But what happens in time?
In a very short time, an extremely short time, you will find yourself in the same example as the old. Will you not? You may die young and be spared aging, but that is not often sought by most. You will most likely reach a physical frailty. You may not even be old when this occurs. All of your confidence and strength have been in what you could fix and solve. What then will you do when you cannot solve and fix things any longer?
Now, we are back to asking ourselves if it is better to struggle or accept. What happens when things are accepted? What happens in that relaxation? Is it giving up? Is it weakness?
If a child wants a toy and takes many paths to acquire it, but because of some barrier, another child or an adult keeping the toy away, the child stops seeking it. They may have given up, but more likely, they have only stopped the current physical seeking and once the door is open will go after again. In this case, the child is coveting the toy and has clearly not given up. In that coveting, there is the struggle.
So, what would accepting be? Are we ready to talk about this? Accepting would be allowing the situation to be as it is and not taking up a struggle against it. As a car is coming down the street and their way is the right of way, one accepts this before crossing the street. Once the car has passed and the way for you is clear, then you go.
When a glass full of water is knocked from the table by a careless movement and water and broken glass spread quickly across the floor, there is a moment before the mind judges the appropriate response. Watch closely as this is where the difference lies between struggle and acceptance. The path of resistance is anger at what has happened. It should not have happened. Now, we have work to do that is completely unplanned and those careless movements should be stopped. It is a personal attack. Now, the cleaning must be done with multiple tools and it will be messy.
The path of acceptance is noticing the fall and the break and the spread. It is knowing that it is best to clean it and that the careless movements should be trained. With acceptance, there is not resistance. There is a clear look at the problem and the pain. From this clear point of view, many options can appear.
When resistance is the path, there is struggle. With acceptance, there is no struggle…just awareness and a choice of how to respond.