We are conditioned, as a society, to pursue happiness; to attain certain goals with the final destination being happiness. However, thinking that we can find some lasting pleasure and avoid pain is a hopeless cycle that leaves us suffering even more. As the mother of a newborn, I am humbly reminded everyday of the fragility of any given moment. I watch my son go from giggling and squealing in delight one moment to puckering his lower lip and crying the very next moment, seemingly for no reason at all. My job as a mother is not to prevent my baby from crying, or suffering; he is going to cry, the best I can do is make sure he is not crying alone and know that, just like his squealing in delight, this too shall pass. Imagine the heartache and suffering I would experience if there was no space for my baby to cry.
We all have this same task; we are all parents to ourselves and our job is not to pass some test or overcome some problem, but to allow enough space in our lives to move through the ever changing states. Things will come together and then they’ll fall apart. Then they come together again and they fall apart again. Healing and peace comes from allowing all of this to happen: to feel the joy and the grief, the excitement and disappointment. We spend so much of our time pursuing avenues that we think are going to bring us pleasure, telling ourselves things like, “If I could just lose 5 pounds,” or “If I could just land this job, then I’ll be happy.” But we don’t know what’s really going to happen. Similarly, we invest so much time in trying to avoid pain, but really, what we think is going to bring us misery, we don’t know. The most important thing is to let there be room for not knowing. We never know if we are going to fall flat or if we will stand up tall. We don’t know if what feels horrifying and scary will actually turn out to be a gift. And to remember that once we do get to that place, be it pleasurable or painful, it is only temporary…that this too shall pass.