Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Waiting for the rain to stop - optimism in adversity, living with duality and paradox

Looking for cottage photos, I came across this photo on alixbw's flickr page,

titled, "Waiting for the rain to stop."

I like the warmth of the light inside the kitchen, the grey soft light of a rainy day outside and the title that reminds me of a conversation I had with my friend Becky last night.

Talking about some of the painful parts of life, we agreed how hard it is to live, joyful and optimistic, in the midst of circumstances that are unexpected, unknown and sometimes frightening. Especially in America, where we're taught that life should be easy, we should expect good things, and if something unexpected happens, it's a problem, and we often look for what went wrong, what we did wrong. (And as any good student of Buddhism will ask, who are you to define whether an event is bad or good? As my friend Aqeela says, look for the gift in the wound.)

Even though religion should challenge one to live in the present moment. to accept mystery and paradox, many people use their faith as a guarantee for security. Spirituality becomes westernized with the American constructs that we should stock away to always be prepared, putting more faith in a retirement fund that in what we can do, today.

In other countries I've visited, people seem to face challenges, the good and the bad, with more acceptance and optimism. Not to say injustice or war is natural or good, but in the midst of these things, people still have hope, and can find thankfulness. While living in Kosovo I was told by many proud people that their small nation was ranked one of the most optimistic in the world. These are people who have seen so much tragedy, lost so much, and yet, in the 2008 Gallup Voice of the People poll, were once again the most optimistic.

I hope to learn from my friends in Kosovo and Africa, that in the midst of confusing events and all that is life, the unknown future, the frustrations of not being able to control choices loved ones make, I can find joy and peace in this moment, with optimism. To appreciate the rain and all the good things that come from it. Not that all will be fixed and happy, but that by living in the present moment, I'll be changed.

"Through the present moment, you have access to the power of life itself, that which has traditionally been called "God." As soon as you turn away from it, God ceases to be a reality in your life, and all you are left with is the mental concept of God, which some people believe in and others deny. Even belief in God is only a poor substitute for the living reality of God manifesting every moment of your life." ~ Eckhart Tolle

(Umbrella - Dancing in the Rain from Photobucket)

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