When we are young, we have so much hope and optimism. There is much novelty in life that excites, entices, and seduces us. We have dreams of happiness and success. We envision our efforts and sacrifices bearing much fruit in the future. This youthful hope and optimism become harder to maintain when we are older. Our zest for life is tested over the years as the process of living is itself an ongoing struggle.
Our feature image is of floor tiles in a fast food restaurant’s eating area in Las Vegas.
Uncertainty is a constant for us humans in this transitory world. Our choices, our actions, our plans and hopes for the future are all limited and burdened by uncertainty and variables we cannot control and at times cannot foresee. This ever-present uncertainty and having to cope with things that we do not ask for but come our way are part of the constraints of the human condition. We are not in control albeit we may think we are. Disappointment and failure are frequent companions on our life’s journey. We can put much effort and sacrifice into an endeavor, into a relationship, and end up with a complete failure, a total loss. This can be depressing. To give much of ourselves and receive nothing but loss and pain in return is trying, very trying, and may lead to some bitterness in ourselves (if we let it).
Some of us are more sensitive than others to the onerous and burdensome constraints of life in this world. Perhaps we feel emotional pain and hurt more acutely than the others around us do. Some of us weary of this life’s constraints. Then, too, perhaps our sojourn here in this world is an exile from our true home. If so, it is somewhat understandable that we may not ever be fully at ease living in this world. Deep inside it never quite feels right to us.
In a song by Led Zeppelin (Stairway to Heaven), one hears the words:
“There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west,
And my spirit is crying for leaving.”
“My spirit is crying for leaving.” That may be an apt way of conveying the longing some of us feel when we have despaired of life in this world, when life’s constraints have worn us down so to speak. It is not easy to be a loving person in a largely unloving world.
But there is a greater good that is worth sacrificing for. There is a way for the individual to contribute to the collective good, the larger good. We can as individuals try to see the larger perspective, try to see beyond our own individual crosses that we must bear and endure bearing. We can choose to see and help alleviate the hurt and pain of others even while we are hurting. In fact, being able to see the pain of others and make efforts to comfort them while one is suffering shows a certain strength of character that seems to be rarely seen these days. We individuals are not the center of the universe. We can consciously work to overcome our almost innate ego-centrism. By doing so, we can become more loving people. To be sure, it is not easy and the world will not necessarily pay you back in kind with love.
Forgiveness is absolutely necessary as we progress through our life’s journey. In addressing forgiveness, what may not be adequately discussed is forgiving one’s self. Personally, this has been a challenge and an obstacle for me. Having made some major, destructive mistakes in my adult life, I have some major regrets. Big mistakes are not easily corrected. It is not easy for me to let go of the anger at myself for these past bad choices and bad actions. But, we must move forward in our lives and not be a prisoner of the past even when past errors have done long term damage to others and to ourselves. Emotional healing can be a more difficult process than physical healing.
Loving others, forgiving others, loving one’s self and forgiving one’s self – all are important. Although we are under intense pressures in our daily life in these times, we need to stay focused on being loving human beings. Despite all the failures, defeats, mistakes, bad choices, tragedies, etc. that we make, endure, encounter in our lives, the ultimate failure and loss would be to allow these to rob us of our love. In other words, we can choose to love despite all the misery we endure. Perhaps that is the real and true successful life – to become more loving over the years, to live a constructive life and to help others to do the same by our actions and by our example.
As Jesus instructed (paraphrasing): “Love God and love your neighbor.” One way you can demonstrate your love for God is by loving and helping others.
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