In our current crazy world full of smart phones constantly connecting to wifi networks while syncing themselves to all manner of other gadgets just to make sure that we and all the machines might miraculously end up on the same page, we rarely get enough time for contemplation.
So, what would a person with only limited time left in the world, but released from the concerns of the world, spend their time contemplating?
Recently I’ve had the opportunity to ask this question as two of my friends have been dying – and yes I know we are all dying but what I mean is dying in a more accelerated way – read terminal illness and visualise doctors frowning and stroking their chins as they try to determine exactly how long you’ve got.
Contemplation begins with ‘Why?!’ or more specifically ‘Why me?!’ And here’s where we get to see pain because ‘Why me?’ is a question about fairness and justice. And we can extrapolate this type of thinking into any bad news or perceived injustice afflicting us in our world; a refusal to accept the reality presented before us and a vain attempt to try and dredge through history to find a reason WHY so that the world may make sense and we can find a solution to the underlying feeling of injustice.
Rumination like this keeps us up at night, frustrates us on a tautological merry-go-round that haunts our dreams and taints our world.
Neuroscience researchers tell us that part of our brain seeks meaning in the events of life and, absent of meaning, will actually make something up to fill in the details. The merry-go-round of why keeps engaging this part and keeps us trapped in an analysis of the past.
Freedom arises when there is surrender and acceptance. One friend has been in terrible pain. At one point after days and days of suffering he had an epiphany – stop fighting and allow yourself to see through the pain. We joked about it later. About embracing your destiny.
“Welcome teacher. Thank you”, he said.
There is only the present and no amount of rumination on the past will change history.
I asked my other friend what he thought about whilst he sat for days and days on end, having medical treatments but knowing that quietly the doctors were calculating ‘How long’.
I expected a truly profound and philosophical response – especially given that he had long ago cast himself off the merry-go-round of why and had instead embraced the moment.
He laughed at me, at my naivety I guess, “I’m thinking about surviving”, he said, “just thinking about surviving every day.”
So, there is freedom. The ability to embrace every moment as if it’s your last, the will to release yourself from the perils of ruminating about the past and to instead direct your contemplation towards the future.
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