Stop Struggling and Suddenly Everything Clicks
acceptance buddhism college grad growing up
A strange thing happened recently. My life went from being hectic, disorganized, and frustrating to suddenly clear and productive. This happened without any warning, and without any real discernible change in my circumstances. In the same way that you feel a lot lighter and calmer when you realize you've been restricting your breathing and start taking deep breaths, something in my mindset that was cramped and tight simply relaxed.
This has had a number of interesting effects:
- I feel like I have more time. When things were not going so well, it seemed like there was never enough time in the day. My room was a mess, I wasn't eating enough, I couldn't find the time to exercise, and all my other projects were put aside. Looking back, I wasn't really doing much with my days, but I felt like it was too much. Now, suddenly, I can get all sorts of things done (aka, write on my blog again), still have time for 3 square meals a day, do some reading, and even play guitar again.
- I am more creative. I haven't been inspired to play guitar since last December, when I left for Switzerland. My music sense just turned off. Sure I would pick up the instrument every now and then, but everything I played was just going through the motions. Gone was that itch in my fingers to feel the strings and the frets. No longer did I hunger for the beautiful, pure sound of the guitar's tone. I played because I felt I should, because I had liked it once, but I came very close to packing up the instruments for good. Now, all of a sudden, the beautiful wood grain holds appeal again. The elegant construction, something that had held me in awe when I played all the time, seems magical once more. I can express myself. More importantly, there is something there to express. Additionally, my creative writing instincts have suddenly and without warning returned. I want to start work on my novels again, to see the tales told to completion.
- I have more energy. I hit my workouts harder than I have since sectionals, without any of that strained grinding that characterized my exercise leading up to sectionals. It's a great feeling to actually want to run around with a weighted vest on and to feel that burn again. With my head finally lined up again, my performance is doing great.
- I feel calmer. Despite all the new things I'm finding time for and the increased work, I actually feel more serene and calm. I can appreciate just soaking in the moment. I have been taking a bit of time in the mornings to go trail running at a nearby park that has always been there, though I've never taken advantage of it. I can actually sit still long enough to meditate when I couldn't do so for years. I'm still working to make enough money to be independent, but that panicked sense of urgency is gone.
I think the biggest thing that changed was a willingness to accept. The concept of acceptance comes up a lot in Buddhism as a necessary factor in spiritual development. Looking back, there were a lot of things I wasn't accepting: my shin splints and the implication that I wasn't a good enough athlete, my financial situation, my level of experience in life, the difficulties and deprivation associated with my chosen diet. Failure to accept all these things led to an attempt to control them, when in fact they cannot really be controlled.
As a post-college grad (not sure when I have to stop calling myself that), I realize there are a lot of things we can't control, and a lot we want and expect to achieve. Many of us are in worse financial shape than we were in college, with less mobility and opportunity for exploration simply because we are no longer in the college system. At a time when we are supposed to be taking life by the horns, we find ourselves suddenly cut off from all the resources that had opened our eyes in the last few years. It's a bit jarring, but very necessary.
I have learned that accepting the reality of your situation is the first and most important step in being successful. It is necessary to be happy in that situation, and it is also necessary to change that situation, if that is what you want. In order to grow, you have to start somewhere, and accepting and inhabiting that starting point is just as important as planning out your growth and dreams.
What things in your life do you need to accept in order to move past them?
Image source: Jay from Norway on Flickr