There's a quote that is often mistakenly attributed to the Buddha while it's actually from Buddha's Little Instruction Book by Jack Kornfield:
In the end just three things matter: how we have lived, how we have loved, how we have learned to let go.
I'm doing pretty well with the first two things that matter. It's that third one that I struggle with - how I have learned to let go. I'd even go so far as to say I pretty much suck at it! But I'm not talking about letting go of grudges or an inability to forgive. I'm talking about letting go of unrealistic expectations for myself and letting go of my fixed mindset around perfection. That fixed mindset says "I'm not quite smart enough or good enough or productive enough, and I lack willpower". I've learned that it's the fixed mindset that sends me down a path to the judger pit. And trust me, it's not a pretty place. In fact, that's the last place I want to be so I'm working on shifting that fixed mindset to a growth mindset where I take the learner path to a place of possibility and opportunity. But, as you might know, or at least imagine, that shift is so much easier to talk about than to do.
As I've been recently contemplating the shift I realize that one important step is to expand my capacity to embody patience. I can have oodles of patience when it comes to how I live and love others. And don't get me wrong, it's not as it I don't love myself. I do! But I also judge myself harshly and to the point that I don't let go of the self-judgment. I agree with Kornfield and the idea that what matters in life is really basic. That's why I'm committed to working on mindset shift, letting go, and embracing life fully. Looks like a little (or maybe more than a little) patience is in order.
No doubt you've had your own experiences with patience. Maybe, like me, you recognize and exude the beauty of patience when it comes to some situations or people. But maybe, also like me, you and patience are complete strangers when it comes to how you treat yourself. One of my all time favorite books is a slim little volume titled The Book of Qualities. The author, J. Ruth Gendler, brings to life a host of emotions and virtues through personification. She re-introduces me to the complex cast of psyche characters every time I venture into the book. For this week's inspiration, and in order to uphold my commitment to suck less at letting go, I became reacquainted with Patience.
Patience wears my grandmoter's filigree earrings. She bakes marvelous dark bread. She has beautiful hands. She carries great sacks of peace and purses filled with small treausres. You don't notice Patience right away in a crowd, but suddenly you see her all at once and then she is so beautiful you wonder why you never saw her before.
Isn't she wonderful? I want to keep remembering how beautiful and powerful she is. And let's not forget that you and I are beautiful and powerful too! Here's hoping that you are able to fully live, love, and let go, or at least join the ranks of those of us who are working on it every day. It's really all that matters.
I had hoped to post once a week, and did for a short time. Unfortunately, my doctorate research and other obligations have taken priority over the blog. BUT, I will return soon! Some postings may be articles I've written for publication, messages I've delivered in congregational settings, or excerpts from papers written in my doctoral classes.