For years, my mantra was “Let it go”. A few months ago, my mantra changed to, “Let it be”. Here are some of my thoughts on ‘letting it be’ and one way I’ve found to nurture unconditional receptivity to whatever life brings.
“It is by suffering’s presence that we know there is something we need to address.” ~ Jane Hirshfield
Life is impossible to navigate without addressing the way we relate to suffering. Learning to sail on the winds of suffering instead of being tossed and battered yields a happy side effect: it leads us to new life as thirst leads us to water. When suffering comes in it’s many guises – loss, illness, physical or emotional pain, discontentment – there is a choice to make. Run and hide (avoidance, denial, distractions, medicating) or take a step toward the unwelcome visitor.
Creativity opens the door to this unwanted guest. Utilizing the creative spark is a method for beginning the conversation, an ice breaker to take the edge off suffering. Creativity softens the blow and paves the way for insight. Painting, drawing, writing poetry, making music, journaling…each has her own spark. The chef creates in the kitchen, the gardener in the dirt.
This isn’t a frivolous undertaking. It’s as necessary to our process as food is to the body. Responding to suffering with creativity helps to unpack it, to gain insight and clarity. It helps us learn to let it be, to accept what is. When we stop resisting the valleys and dark places, we can begin mining them for the beauty and transformation they hold.
Suffering is a necessary part of life. To interact with it in an intentional and compassionate way is to say yes to life without being broken by it. The creative process is a step towards accepting what it means to be fully human. It furthers the conversation in ways that open our eyes and hearts. Change is the happy result, change of perspective and change of heart. We come away renewed in understanding and hope, able to experience more fully the depth and breadth of human existence.
The first noble truth of Buddhist philosophy is that life has suffering, (better translated as dissatisfaction). But without this sense of dissatisfaction, would we ever feel the need for change? Without discomfort, would we exert any effort at all to heal and to grow kinder and braver?
A Box Full of Darkness
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
~ Mary Oliver
planting seeds of transformation by maya freidman