I sat on the daybed in my late grandmother's kitchen yesterday, tapping my toes to the same tunes that filled that same room when I was a kid, and I got to thinking about change. Mainly, how much of it has happened, how much of me has been affected by it, and how much of me hasn't.
It's been about thirteen years since I first read it, but one quote from Conversations with God still stands out:
It was probably the hardest quote to grasp. How could this be it?, I'd wonder. "I'm not enough," "THIS is not enough!" Enough of what, I didn't know. I still don't. I just knew there was so much I had to accomplish, achieve, acquire, experience, before I could be it.
I've achieved and acquired and experienced plenty since I was a kid and I definitely haven't been unaffected by any of it. Plenty has changed about me in that time - my body, my perspective, my intellectual knowledge, my address (like, 17 times). Things might be different than they were before. But better? I'm no better of a whatever it is that I am now and was before than I've ever been before now.
I can recall a million glorious moments when I considered my life to be better than it was when I first read Conversations with God. There were moments in which I had more money, more health, more love, more success, more fun than in previous or latter moments. But all of those moments were moments, and the thing about moments is, they pass.
I think it is important that we continue to teach our kids to achieve and accomplish and strive and pursue. That they can have more, do more, see and hear and taste more, but that they'll never be any thing more than what they are right now. And that's not only okay, its extraordinary.
Also, I've been thinking about suffering a lot. Human suffering in all its forms, and how we all have to deal with it in life, some of us so much more than others, it sometimes seems.
There's nothing more natural than to want to reduce one's suffering. It has been said that a desire to reduce and eliminate suffering is the primary force driving life on this planet. Our daily lives consist in actions we perform with the ultimate goal of ensuring the least amount of suffering for ourselves and our loved ones.
Yet, like change, suffering is one of the only constants in life. You can be certain of few things, but you can be certain you'll suffer in this lifetime. Most spiritual leaders agree that to live is to suffer. We enter this world crying, S.N. Goenka often reminded his students. Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, was himself prone to bouts of suicidal depression. Both insist that our suffering serves a vital role:
I've been reminding myself of this a lot lately. Suffering will always be there. It's what makes us human. We can choose to let it help us, or destroy us. And whatever way we choose to react to it, it is going to happen.
In other news, fuck the French language. Learning French is like spending a decade training an impossible-to-isolate muscle that softens and shrinks faster than any other muscle (muscles representing career choices). Not only that, but in order to use the barbell you have to go to a special type of gym whose hours change every minute (gyms representing French-speaking areas and hours representing the dizzying rate at which idiomatic language evolves) and whatever gym rat shows up on the doorstep first gets dibs (gym rats representing whatever keener did better than me in the Translation test I wrote last week for a big company in Montreal). I failed. Can you tell I'm disgruntled?
When I sit on a piano bench my mind wakes up and my soul goes to sleep. I've never been so busy as a musician in my life and each time I do it I become more certain that I will never truly be happy doing anything else. This week alone, I'll be playing here:
So in sum, I remind myself daily that nothing I ever do in life will ever make anything better and no matter where I go and what I do I will always have to overcome some sort of struggle and that I can let it empower me if I so choose and therefore all I can do now is enjoy and appreciate the wonderful things coming my way and continue to do exactly what I was put on this earth to do. And knowing all of this, I am becoming more and more comfortable with THIS decision: