October 6, 2009

Balancing on a Razor’s Edge

Every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. — Thorton Wilder

How precarious it all seems!

Life seems to balance on a razor’s edge. At any moment the phone could ring, bringing messages of death or other loss. The sun could erupt in a massive solar storm that shuts down all electrical power and hurls humanity back into another dark age. You could be hit by a car, have a heart attack, or take a fall and break your back.

Precarious indeed.

Yet the truth is broader than that. Any number of things can happen at any given time. The phone might ring to bring news of an old friend’s visit. You could awaken tomorrow free of fear and pain to the most beautiful day you’ve ever seen. You might receive a promotion, save someone’s life, close several lucrative business deals, or learn that you and your spouse are expecting your first child.

So where is the best place to focus one’s attention? Shall we be wary of the uncertain future, or optimistic about what waits just around the next bend?

What seems most useful is to practice faith in one’s ability to respond to whatever happens, and focus on being of use in the world. Anxiety, depression, and anger drop away as soon as we bring attention to where we are now and act with a sense of purpose.

By resolving to make ourselves more resilient we increase our resourcefulness and capacity to take whatever happens as the raw material for building a creative life.

The first step in resilience, then, is to accept where you are in this moment without wishing circumstances to be any different.

Exercise

A simple meditation can calm the mind and bring you back to the moment. Try this:

Breathe in and think, “Here I am.”

Breathe out and think, “In this place.”

Breathe in and think, “Solid.”

Breathe out and think, “Free.”

Practice this exercise several times each day to begin building resilience you need for your life.

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