Friday, July 8, 2011

Ignorance Isn't Bliss

When I was going through rehab after my brain injury. There were so many people who were struggling, just like me, to walk again. Or to step up. Step down. Or to read or write again. Everything was so hard and painful and tedious. All I kept thinking was I want to get better. And when I was tired all I kept feeling was I can’t do it. It’s too much. But in my heart I knew the most important thing I could do with whatever life I had left was to be a good example to my children. I did not want to be a victim. I wanted to show them that no matter how hard life is, as long as you can do something about it to make it better, you are living purposefully.

My courage and determination was fueled with each new accomplishment.

I never thought or could even imagine I would be doing as much as I am able to do now.

This is, sad to say, in sharp contrast to many people in the world today. People who have decided it is easier to not do for themselves or not learn a new way of doing things but still complain and blame everyone for their woes.

I remember wondering about this. And slowly I began to realize that we have an active role in what our lives are and in what they become. To have a good life isn't easy. It takes hard work. We may have indoor plumbing and an understanding of how the planet spins and know what the weather is bringing but often times we still don't know how to get out of our own way.

I remember discovering something really disturbing about myself. I was in this cycle of self-destruction and I could not understand why. I had tried everything I could to live a good life except change my perspective on a few key ways I was thinking.

In essence, I had subconsciously decided not to change because it was easier and because I wasn't in enough pain yet. My life had to make me so miserable that I'd prefer anything to the way it was. And that was when I opened my mind to change. And that was when I took a huge step toward understanding that the way to grow began with taking complete responsibility for everything I did or didn't do or allowed or didn't allow to happen in my life.

If I wanted to change things I had to be willing to move on into an unknown way of thinking. And I needed to be willing to take one step at a time toward learning more, doing better and creating a life that was a true reflection of what I thought and of who I was and who I wanted to be.

I was getting something out of my disfunction. As painful as it was I was getting something out of it. And I needed to figure out what that one thing was before my perspective changed and I changed.

As I did this I experienced an incredible liberation. And all of the hard work and in depth looks inside were worth every uncomfortable moment and every effort that I had avoided making before. I had to learn primarily how to stop trying to make life the way I thought it should be and deal with it the way it really was before I could see my role in it being that way. This frame of mind was a crucial element that I needed to grow through before I could make any changes.

I have even more compassion now when I see people going through this because at one time I thought I was so smart and boy oh boy, I had no idea I had so much to learn. I know what it is like to be blinded by my own ignorance and my own choice to wallow in it.

A lotus flower is an amazing thing. Its roots are in the deepest muck and mud below the surface of the water. And its stem is often very long. Its strength is in the way it moves with the water and the way it reaches for the sun that causes its pedals to open on the surface. We are a lot like that. The mud and muck is rooted in ignorance. And it is a testament to the strength of our will and hope, that we grow until one day, our pedals open in the warmth of the sun: To rest there on the surface of the water and to go with the flow.

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