As I have grown in my spiritual and personal understanding, I’ve come to understand and be comfortable with paradox. Paradox is defined as “a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.” My ability to merge a belief in creating my own reality with loving what is in the moment is one such paradox.
My spiritual beliefs have been influenced by the New Age movement and I long ago embraced the belief in the power of my thoughts. I know without out a doubt that what we think about and what we focus on manifests in our lives. However, I also have seen that there are plenty of things that come into our reality that appear outside of our control.
Therefore, I’ve always embraced neurologist and psychiatrist Victor Frankl’s well-known belief, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” When I can’t control what is happening outside of myself, I can always control how I choose to respond and give meaning to those things. In this way, I create my own reality.
The paradox of loving what is while making a choice for something different is ever present. Following the recommendation of Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön to stay present with what is and “lean into sharp points and fully experience them” can be difficult when one believes their focus gives energy to the creation of it’s direction. Sitting with what is coming up for me emotionally without trying to change it by reaching for a better feeling thought is a challenge.
Living with paradox for me means learning to have balance. Stepping outside of any fixed belief system and staying open to the understanding that it is our very beliefs which determine our experience can be liberating. I continue to find comfort in remembering to stop seeking for answers and simply return to finding the love and wisdom of my own heart.
My journey has also taught me to be more comfortable with uncertainty. I would say the most difficult aspect of the life path I have chosen is that there are no guarantees. I’m presently working various caregiving jobs and able to pay my mortgage and bills with ease. However, I’m aware that at any time my job situation could change.
I learned this lesson early on when I thought this past year was going to consist of weekend caregiving for an elderly couple, with a few hours a week being mothers helper for a five-month old. When the 97 year old fell and broke his hip, my weekend job changed dramatically. His daughter ended up staying in town and my hours began to get cut. The mother of the five-month old started feeling more comfortable handling his needs on her own.
I’ve felt fear at the beginning of every new caregiving job I’ve accepted. When I was offered a couple days a week taking care of a two year old, I wasn’t sure it was going to be a good fit. I actually turned the job down before I reconsidered and called back to accept. As it turned out, I made a great decision and that period of time was pure joy.
I am also keenly aware of the uncertainty of what would happen should I become sick and unable to show up for work. I struggle with being here now financially while thinking of my retirement and the future. I have no sick time, vacation time or active 401K. If I want to take a vacation, the cost will be all the more because I have to factor in the unpaid time away from work.
Those that are self-employed are probably used to such considerations. It still amazes me how having a full time job in “corporate America” can give the illusion of security. Now that I am actually living and accepting uncertainty, I also can see that it’s always around us. It’s just not so “in-your-face” when a steady paycheck gets deposited automatically in your bank account.
Much of what I am passionate about today involves being authentic. Perhaps one of the best known advocates of this way of being is American scholar, author, and public speaker Brene’ Brown. I agree with her quote,
“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.”
Today, my life is fuller and richer than it has ever been. Sure, I can get caught up and worry and fear for the future since in many ways I am living on the edge. However, the fullness of the love in my heart and complete trust in my ability to land on my feet brings me comfort.
But perhaps it is my belief that all things happen for my highest good and constant seeking of a silver lining which offers me the greatest security. As I move more deeply into my awakening in love for myself and humanity, I am finding living my word for this year of TRUST easier and easier.
I still don’t know where I will be in a year from now. However, I no longer live the illusion that there are any guarantees in life. And rather this being a scary thing, it is actually an understanding which enables me to more fully live.
Because I choose love. I choose to do work and activities which bring me joy. I choose to keep showing up authentically and embracing paradox and uncertainty.
Every moment is a choice. What’s yours?