January 7

Today's quotation:

Life is not always what one wants it to be, but to make the best of it, as it is, is the only way of being happy.

Jennie Jerome Churchill

Today's Meditation:

We spend so much of our lives trying to plan it out, to make it into what we think it should be.  We put money in the bank so our kid can go to college, then that child decides to do something else instead.  We form in our minds exactly what our daughter-in-law will be like, only to discover that our son is gay.  We plan to travel with our spouse three summers from now to make up for all the time we've spent working, but cancer gets in the way and we lose that spouse before we're able to do so.

So much of our despair in life has to do with ideas that we've built up ourselves about what life should be, about what we want to have happen, about the results that we should be getting for our efforts.  We fail to keep in mind that life may have its own plans for us, that the river of life is going to be hitting some twists and turns--and even some dams--along its journey, and we have to be ready for them.

We can always use the college money to help our child start his or her own business, or even use it to do some traveling ourselves, rather than focus on the disappointment of our child not doing what we expected.  We can get to know our new son-in-law well, and be glad that our child has found someone who makes him happy.  We can use our resources to do things that we know our departed spouse would have wanted us to do, or set up a charitable organization in his or her honor--even a modest amount of money in a scholarship fund would be a great contribution to the world.

When I was laid off from a job that I had planned to be at for years--and we had even just bought a house--my first thought was, "Okay, life's pushing me in a new direction now.  I need to stay alert to find out what that direction is."  I spent my unemployed time trying to better myself and to improve resources that I had available to me, and ended up having one of my best years teaching in a place I never thought I would teach with some wonderful people.

Life shouldn't be what we expect it to be--it should be what it is.  And we can do ourselves a great favor if we stop trying to make it what we want it to be, accept it for what it is, and discover in its essence the joys and the pleasures that are there for us.  Because they are there for us--sometimes we just have to dig a little to find them.

Questions to consider:

How many of your disappointments are the result of unfulfilled expectations of life?

Where do our ideas of what life should be like come from?

How can we start to accept life just as it is?  What do we need to do in order to do so?

For further thought:

Nobody has things just as they would like them.  The thing to do is to make a success with what material I have.  It is a sheer waste of time and soul-power to imagine what I would do if things were different.  They are not different.

Frank Crane

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