We Never Know

As we enjoy the last few days of 2016, I want to leave you with these words by Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chodron:

When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don’t know what’s really going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don’t know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don’t know. We never know if we’re going to fall flat or sit up tall. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.

I read somewhere about a family who had only one son. They were very poor. This son was extremely precious to them, and the only thing that mattered to his family was that he bring them some financial support and prestige. Then he was thrown from a horse and crippled. It seemed like the end of their lives. Two weeks after that, the army came into the village and took away all the healthy, strong men to fight in the war, and this young man was allowed to stay behind and take care of his family.

Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.

The new year is often a time of renewal, starting fresh, and optimism.

However, many may not feel especially optimistic looking forward. Whether feeling optimistic or pessimistic, this not knowing is another choice. It’s not passivity. It’s a middle path, sort of neutral space that avoids the emotional swings that may be less than helpful.

Really, we don’t know what will happen. Fear and worry definitely won’t help. Nor will chronic cheerfulness. We will see what 2017 brings.

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