My morning hikes into the canyons of Torrey Pines State Beach often take the form of a walking meditation. As I trudge up the hill to the top, I’m thinking about all the ways life has been unfair. How much of a struggle things are. In my head is nothing but static and noise. I allow myself to vent about all the frustration and anger and unfairness of life, things that make life feel like an uphill battle and which are standing in the way of my making it to the top. I might even talk aloud to myself about it or let out a few choice words directed at someone with whom I am upset. It’s taken me a while to learn how to let these upsets flow through me without judgment.
As I reach the top of the hill, and begin walking down the trail to the beach, the path is winding and uneven. I have to pay attention to each step. I practice staying in the moment as I make my way down the hill through the canyons. I am captivated by the beauty of the light rising on the trees, the smell of rosemary and sage, the sight of the ocean where pelicans and dolphins await.
Just before I reach the ocean, I stop at my special perch, take a deep breath and behold the beautiful, awe-inspiring ocean with an entire world beneath its surface. By the time I get down to the beach, my mood is one of gratitude. I think about every single thing, even the tiniest, most microscopic thing that I have to be grateful for; the love of my earth and angel daughters, my family and dear friends; for the ability to do the work I do, my health, the kindnesses people have shown me, all that is good and right in the world, the majesty of nature, to be able to walk on this beautiful beach and, of course, for my life.
Giving thanks for things great and small, I am sometimes brought to tears. There is such beauty and abundance, at any given moment, all around us . . . if we simply open ourselves up to it.
As I make my way home from the beach, I’m often struck by the reality that I can’t just open myself to one side; life is a package deal. Only when I open to life’s cruel and brutal unfairness and its miraculous fairness can I begin to make peace with life as it really is.
As we move into the season of gratitude, it can be challenging to adopt an attitude of humility in life’s most unfair moments, but each of these tasks will help move you in the right direction:
- Start each day by taking a moment to reflect on the gifts and blessings, hardships and setbacks, in my life
- Remember to breathe and allow the feelings wash over me like water when I’m upset and have suffered a setback. Let them come without judgment . . . and then, let them go.
- Allow the seeds of hope to take root in even the most unexpected of places—like a tender green plant sprouting from under a boulder.
- Use what I have learned to support a friend who is currently facing a hardship, since our personal losses forge us into stronger, more empathetic supporters for our family and friends.
Life isn’t fair . . . but it’s more than fair at the same time.
Sometimes genuine hopefulness comes from the hardest moments in our lives—a phoenix rising from the ashes of our loss. As 13th-century poet Rumi wrote, “Grief can be the garden of compassion.”
Ken Druck, Ph.D., founder of The Jenna Druck Center in San Diego, is a grief and resilience expert, speaker, organizational and family consultant, and award-winning author of several books including, The Real Rules of Life (Hay House). Follow Ken’s blog or find him on Facebook.
Images by Lisette.
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