Like It or Not

Coming into being is apparently not easy. From galaxies to stars to humans to any being that has to break its way out of an egg or a seed, taking form in this existence involves a good deal of struggle.

It’s so tempting to ask why, but that’s like asking why the lupine dotting the hillsides these days are purple. You can explain it in terms of the wavelengths of light, but that really only answers how they are purple, not the more fundamental why not red? In this case, why is not a useful question, as it says in one of Anne Lamott’s essays.

We are always coming into existence, but we—or at least certainly I—am not always happy about the struggle. There are things that we accept are going to be hard—giving birth, climbing Mount Everest, losing a loved one—and there are things that we can see will be hard for others—adolescence, for example. Yet we don’t tell anyone, you know, why don’t you just skip this whole adolescence thing, it’s not much fun. Whether a society has healthy or unhealthy ways of helping its members through this stage, they all still have to go through it.

And we don’t emerge fully formed at 20. As long as we’re alive, we’ll continue to be drawn forth. We’ll be invited to deeper and deeper communion with life, we’ll continue to be created, and that means we’ll continue to struggle.

In all likelihood, we’ll continue not to like that struggle, but maybe there’s something beyond our liking or not liking it. Maybe there’s a way to say, oh, this is happening, not in a passive but in a participatory way. And maybe that’s when it gets easy, not the kind of easy I generally picture where everything matches the version of life in my head but some other kind of easy that we can’t understand until we experience it.

This is one of those things I didn’t make up. The great religious traditions all include this idea. Now if only I would listen.

3 thoughts on “Like It or Not

  1. Ah, JUST what I needed today. Had a grand week eliciting tales from eager 6th graders – LAST week – now on day three of resistant, reluctant, yearning-to-tell but fearful 8th graders, I realize they are where they are – coming to BE. At any moment something could shift. Feels like they are fighting me and the PULL is to fight back. I am “hearing” things in their faces that say “don’t give up on us, but please don’t make us tell to more than a partner – and some won’t even do that. Ah…….. I must continue to listen, even to their silence. There’s wisdom there for the finding. Thanks as always.

  2. My first grade reading tutored students would say “easy peasy.” About something they had come across before and mastered. I’ve come across the idea of letting things slide through instead of picking everything up in my teeth and shaking it and growling – but no mastery. Dare I say “Yet?” Meanwhile – growl. It’s tiring. Smiling and gratitude help me.

  3. You’re right! Change is hard, growth is hard, learning, moving into new places or jobs or directions, all hard. It’s easy to point out even God took a sabbath rest…and we all need those moments of just being, living in a moment, breathing, seeing, opening up to joy and awe. I think too often we spend so much energy on whatever we are engaged in, working on, and worrying over we forget that even in the midst of hard there can be moments of soft. You mention laughter in your blog description. Laughter is my salvation. I have taught myself to see the ridiculous in the difficult, to laugh at my missteps and foibles, and find moments of humor in every struggle. I even laugh at how serious I can be…probably, that’s what keeps me alive! Thanks for the post, Rachel, you always make me think. Jo

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