The monster of sadness, ever present in our daily lives, is compatible with the universal weaponry of age old truths: refrain from trying to control your present circumstances. Present circumstances are your surroundings, perhaps the weather on a beach trip or your favorite restaurant being out of your favorite meal or dressing according to temperature instead of wishing temperature to synchronize with your apparel.
These examples may seem trivial, but they convey a larger message, and may be in and of themselves of a more complex importance. Each of the above are my own recent attempts to control my present circumstances. The weather on a beach trip may be the source of great anxiety and loss of gratitude. About two weeks ago, a couple made a spontaneous trip to the Delaware beach. Leaving Philadelphia, the weather was ideal. The sky was primarily violet blue with the occasional wisp of cloud and the temperature was warm, but not too warm. The couple planned little, but decided on two ideals for the day. The day would be full of bellinis, and quiet reading. Upon arrival, the couple found the parking to be easy; there were less cars than clouds. In exit from the vehicle was an immediate assault of 30 mph winds. The cloudless sky made sense, the easy parking made sense, the beach was deserted and the wind carried sand, which smacked the couple constantly, making its way into their hair, their ears, and their suits.
At this moment, the couple has a choice. They can choose to hold onto their simple dreams of book reading and bellini sipping, and bare the endless frustration that such ill fitting activities would have on a windy day, or they could realign their beach ideals to better fit the absurdly windy weather. The change in mindset is simple, yet surprisingly difficult achieve when tightly attached to one’s ideals. The outcome to each is profound. One leads to dissatisfaction with the present surroundings, and endless agitation while battling the book pages with the wind and bellini with the sand. The other offers opportunity for clarity, to see the beauty of the clear skies and empty beach, to stand in the wind and feel the hurdles of sand, while gazing at the delightful diamonds of the sea. One evokes agitation, the other and overwhelming sense of gratitude. The present circumstances are identical, yet the mental chaos or tranquility evoked from the circumstances could not be more different.
Such is the case for most of us, in most present circumstances. We are constantly faced with choices, to remain attached to what we’ve decided is best for us and fight futily with our circumstances to push our ill fitting agenda or allow ourselves to be reasonable and flexible. When the present and uncontrollable circumstances do not align with our plans, we have the choice to change our plans and enjoy our surroundings. We will always be offered the opportunity to swim against the endless, powerful currents of the river and become angry with the river’s persistence in opposing us or we can choose to swim with the currents and allow the endless power of the river to aid our own strength, taking us further than we could hope to go on our own. In one instance, the river is our enemy and we are tormented with frustration and exhaustion, in the the second, the river is our aid. We are grateful for its power and beauty, and our collaboration with the inevitable gives us a higher achievement than before.
You can work with the wind or you can fight the wind, but you can never change the wind.