It was February 19th. I glanced up from my desk and my eyes rested on the lovely rose that my partner gave me for Valentine’s Day. “One more day, and I’ll have to throw it out,” I thought to myself. Then, I continued the one-way conversation in my head, “That’s how it is with fresh flowers. I have to make sure I really enjoy them while I can, because the window of opportunity is very slim.” I was referring to the fact that I had waited several days after receiving this exquisite gift before I realized that I needed to put in my office. Given that my office is where I spend the majority of my working hours, having the rose there, and sooner, would have allowed me to enjoy it even more of the time, before I could enjoy it no longer.
That’s how it is with life, too. It brings us lots of presents, and not just on the designated present days, but every day. Inherent in those gifts are myriad opportunities to experience life more abundantly. That’s only if we fully receive them, however. Otherwise, we miss out on all the richness they, and life, have to offer.
In a sense, the world is inviting us, always, to take in what it has to give us. And I don’t mean physical things. Goodness knows, most of us have enough stuff. (I know I do.) No, by saying “take in” what the world gives us, I am suggesting that we see past the stuff, and/or the circumstances, and glean the meaning from what we have been given. And, I’m suggesting that we do this no matter how we label the new item or occurrence.
Of course, when we experience something we perceive as “bad,” meaning unpleasant or painful, we must first acknowledge those feelings. No amount of glossing over them will make them actually go away. In fact, quite the reverse will happen: If we don’t allow ourselves the emotions that immediately follow such experiences, then those emotions will begin to cloud everything that we do, even while we are trying to avoid or deny them.
Then, once we have fully owned the truth of our feelings, we can respond with a wholehearted yes to the invitation and ask ourselves the following questions (in addition to any of your own):
- What, if anything, is there for me to learn ?
- What might I have done differently?
- Is there a metaphor that could apply here that would enable me to see a different, deeper meaning what I first supposed to be true?
- Is there an action that is appropriate for me to take now, given this new knowledge?
The most important thing for us to remember when engaging in this process is not to judge ourselves! This only serves to keep us stuck in the muck and will not only not allow us to move forward, but it will inhibit any kind of real learning and/or change going forward.
So, the next time the world outside you offers you an invitation to go inside, I hope you’ll take it. I think you’ll be glad you did. In fact, I believe that we must go within or go without all the rich beauty and meaning there is – all around and deep inside us.