Once upon a time…That phrase seems so appropriate given the length of time since this happened. I could also say “in a far, far land”, but I digress.
So, once upon a time I was challenged to do a triathlon. Being fairly athletic I did not think it would be difficult. That first morning I went for a run. The distance felt far and the body tired quickly causing me to stop to catch my breath. Only seven minutes had passed! Disappointed I ended up laying on the grass looking to the heavens and asking for help. I won't even mention the dramas involved with starting the swimming and bicycle riding that followed.
Challenges, like people, come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes you are quite clear about why you are facing a challenge but not always. I remember a quote by Byron Katie who said, "Got stress? You are arguing with what is." I think replacing the word stress with ‘a challenge’ works just as well. Moving with a sense of peace in a challenging time is a challenge in itself! And only with that sense of peace do you stop the argument with "what is."
My friend Allison just lost her mother. Allison, who lives in Ontario, was called to Halifax after her mother took a turn for the worse in hospital. Allison was lucky to have had three weeks before her mother died but the turmoil and the up-and-down of emotions was a huge challenge. Living in close quarters with the family at a local hotel didn't help, nor did eating in restaurants when she could no longer deny her hunger.
In one of my conversations with Allison after her mother's death she told me how she had come to the realization that despite the sorrow she was okay. Sprinkled in between the tumultuous events were times when she allowed herself to be okay with what was happening. She went for long walks, shell hunting on the beach, fell in love with the people of Halifax she came in contact with, and she started giving thanks as a way of diverting her attention from her pain. Her biggest surprise was the understanding that she never had to deal with more than she could handle. (See her story here.)
Seven minutes of running was all that I could manage in the beginning. It was also the first of the three sports I started with so I knew a whole lot more was coming! The hard part happens when you don’t know what’s coming and have a day, or a week, or a month that just seems to have one challenge after another. The question becomes, What next? I think when you walk away from a challenge and regroup you open the space for peace. Giving thanks eases the mind, releases your pain and anguish even for a moment, and allows that feeling of peace to sneak in. Then you will never have more than you can handle.
Can you stop arguing with ‘what is’ for a little while today?