Everything that happens; happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so. – Marcus Aurelius
What does that mean?
I debated taking this quote, but decided it was worth doing. It talks of reflection, over time, and concluding that all is as it should be. I have lost loved ones, been divorced, bankrupt and had many painful indignities heaped on me in my few short decades in life. Each has taught me a powerful lesson. I am, as everyone on Earth is, a product of the lessons that life has taught me. If we heed them, we grow wiser, if sadder, and proceed with our lives. We ignore these lessons at our own peril.
The young and brash often scoff at these things, and have to be taught these lessons a few times before it sinks in. So, if you’re under 25, you may not “get” this. But to heed this advice, that would be wise.
To quote Confucius: “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” Choose your method, but eventually, you will learn.
Why is contemplation important?
Contemplation is a word used by many to mean different things. For the purposes of this post, I will use the definition from thefreedictionary.com, which defines contemplation as “2. Thoughtful observation or study.”
Life goes as it should. Over the years, I have heard many people say that they wish that X hadn’t happened, or that Y had happened instead. What they don’t seem to be able to grasp is that these events, however unpleasant, are part of what makes us who we are. They form the basis of our life, and they are the foundation for our wisdom. Without these events, you would not be you, you would be someone else.
Some might see being someone else as a blessing, but I would beg to differ. When caught up in the moment, the pain and suffering, the loss or the impact may seem overwhelming. Eventually it will fade. Some harness the emotions to become an ‘avenger,’ righting the wrongs done by whatever they think has unfairly treated them or their loved ones. Down that path lies insanity. If you think it through, you will see it to be so.
What I would recommend instead is to look for the silver lining in the clouds. Sometimes that takes years. My divorce was the crucible that helped me melt off all the stupidity and vanity of youth, to learn about myself in a way I would otherwise never have done. Yes, it was a trying time, and I would likely have pounded you into a bloody pulp if you had tried to convince me of it at that time. But in thoughtful reflection and contemplation, I realize it the best possible thing for me.
Where can I apply this in my life?
We all face rough times. We all can learn from them. The trick is learning rightly. If a Martian did you wrong, then you might believe that all Martians are bad. After meeting a few Martians that weren’t bad, you might revise your belief. However, through some careful observation and further contemplation, you might realize that Martians, like humans, have good and bad in them, and you just happened to run across one that wasn’t on their best behavior.
How does one learn in the aftermath of an event? It might seem odd, but I try to write down what I was feeling at the time. And then again in a few weeks, months, even years. I use that as a measure of how emotionally attached I still am to the incident. By waiting until things are a little cooler, I am less likely to come to a rash conclusion that will take me down an unpleasant path.
How do you find a sliver lining in a tornado? At first, I wrote “cloud,” but with decided to step it up. The recent blast of tornadoes in the US reminded me of a time in my past. Just before my ex and I broke up, a terrible twister hit the town where we were living. It struck well away from where we lived, but I crossed through the area every day on the way to and from work. Seeing such a thing, the devastation it caused, seems like it is all bad. The fatalities, the injuries, the loss of property and keepsakes, it seems there is nothing good there at all. But the community pulled together like nothing I could possibly have imagined. Money, food, clothes, toys, cars, household goods, anything and everything you could possibly imagine was donated by locals, for locals. The rebirth of a town is what the silver lining was that day. It wasn’t fun, but anyone who lived through it was a different person, a better person, for the experience.
What has happened to you? You are among the luckiest people on the planet (or youngest) if you don’t have a scar or two from a troublesome event in your life. What did you take as the lesson from these events? Choose one (for now, you can try this with the others later) and write it down, as well as what you thought the lesson was. Now place the date (use the approximate date, if need be) for the event, and for today.
Now take some time and consider what other lessons you could learn from that event. Brainstorm, think outside the box, all those corny expressions. One of the craziest of things I ever came up with, a really off the wall idea, was from the death of my maternal grandfather. I’m getting choked up just thinking about him. Loved the guy more than my parents. But, after a few months of crying, wailing and gnashing of teeth, I came up with this: “If things didn’t die, we’d be hip deep in insects, and T-Rex would be inviting us over for dinner!” Now if that isn’t the dumbest thing you ever heard, you gotta leave me a message with something dumber! But it helped me put things in perspective. I’ve even used that on my kids with the passing of the family dogs. That’s just one example, try to find a slightly larger number of ideas to consider.
Once you have a few (a dozen even!) possible lessons you could learn, spend a few moments before bed with each one in succession. See which of them stick with you, and which seem really silly in the morning. Try that a few times, and narrow it down to the best few and write them down in preparation for a revisiting of them in a few weeks. Write down the date & ideas and keep refining the options you think of. Eventually, you will find meaning in the event and grow in wisdom. Hopefully you will find peace and acceptance. That’s when I believe that I have learned the lesson.
There will be times when it seems all is lost, or that every single thing in the universe is arrayed against you. Hold on. Hold on to your sanity, hold on to your humanity. Just hold on. Like all storms, it shall pass. You may find yourself marooned on a desert island. Learn to like your own company. When life gives you lemons, what are you going to do? The choice is yours, but the lives you effect will be many. Choose wisely, choose kindly, choose rightly. A little thoughtful contemplation? It just might help.
From: Twitter, @philo_quotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/marcusaure122222.html