Everything is not Lost
There is nothing more disheartening than a loss of any kind—a loss of love, a loss of family, a loss of hope. You feel as though the only action available is to crawl into a dark corner in your mind, curl up, and let the winter of your emotional seasons overtake you and burry you with its cold, unforgiving snow.
I’ve written a couple articles on not giving up, but it never gets any easier. In fact, all the unfortunate events seem to pile onto each other, creating an inescapable mountain of grief and despair, seemingly impossible to climb. Seemingly.
Be aware of sadness, but don’t turn it away. The exposition that occurs from happiness to sadness and back again can be rather enlightening. It can reveal hidden truths or passions that you may have been seeking to uncover all along, pushing you in the direction you’ve needed to go—so long as you don’t let the snow freeze you to death along the way.
Whatever it is that’s troubling you, no matter how insignificant or small it may seem to you or anybody else, hang in there. Don’t stop that motor from running, because there’s really nothing else in the world to do but live. So live, and live well no matter how difficult that may be.
People are homeless, starving, ridden with addictions, killing each other for menial sums of money. It’s easy to turn from the world and dismiss it all as hopeless, evil, and filled with the organic cancer called “humanity”. That’s
too easy to do. If you’re like any other human being, you’ve heard the saying, “Nothing worth gaining is easy to accomplish,” or at least something to this effect. And if you truly adhere to this belief for any purpose—perhaps to strengthen your business strategies, faith, or relationships—then surely you can apply the same principle in your view of the world.
It’s incredibly difficult to say the world is not lost, that humanity is still learning, and that evil is not inherent within the very core of life itself. But isn’t that worth trying to believe? Isn’t it far more rewarding to be an optimist rather than a pessimist? Isn’t it more satisfying to step out of the mind’s blizzard and into the warmth of your heart?
I met a man this past weekend who seemed rather committed to the opposing view that “the world is just
,” as he so eloquently put it. He also complimented me on my gumption to pursue a reckless, unsteady, and unpredictable career in film and entertainment, to which I replied, “It is hard, yes.” And it is. I’ve already lost count the number of times I’ve been turned down or flat-out ignored from even the tritest of editing jobs. And this is just the beginning of a lifetime of rejections, be it from editing or writing or even menial day jobs.
But it isn’t “just shit.” Yes there’s war; yes there’s hunger; yes, there’s suffering. But, there is also benevolence, charity, and the comfort of a friend’s company. There’s celebration of life all over world occurring every day. All you have to do is choose to no longer ignore it, to no longer perpetuate the pessimism from which the pain is born.
On the emotional decent from happiness into sadness, be aware of why it is you descend in the first place, and don’t turn away from it. Love it, embrace it, whatever “it” may be—a death, being fired, anything. Love that which saddens you, and love the sadness itself. And then finally allow it to be within you, which is often the most difficult and forgotten step. Allow the sadness or anger or frustration to be just as it is, free from your desire to vanquish it. Life, after all, is the composite of all negatives, positives, and the in-betweens, impossible to separate into eternal bubbles of “patience”, “joy”, or “love”.
Happiness and sadness are both separate and one. The more you fight sadness, the more sadness you feel. The more you force happiness, the less happiness you feel. But if you let be what is, you will heal in due time. The secret, if there even is one, to reaching a profound level of existence is to accept all within existence itself—the good, the bad, and the gray.
I’ll leave you with a short story about a monk living in a cave, secluded from society’s ills. One day, after returning from gathering firewood, the monk entered his cave to discover that a multitude of demons had made his home into their new home. There were large ones, fat ones, small ones, and all were incredibly grotesque.
Naturally, the monk wanted them all out of his peaceful abode, and so he began chasing them out, one by one. This worked for the smaller demons, but the bigger they were the harder they were to force out of his cave. So he took a different approach and began showing them great love and benevolence. Soon, all but two demons had left in disgust of the affection.
He tried to show these two huge demons compassion but neither moved. He then sat down next to them and meditated, calmly waiting for them to leave. One finally left, bored from the monk’s deliberate patience. The other grotesque demon remained seated.
The monk began to grow impatient and started taunting the demon. This only helped the demon grow larger and more hideous than before. The monk then showed it love and affection, again only making the demon more disgusting. The monk, then incredibly frustrated, broke down and cried, which also made the demon grow.
Finally after hours upon hours of trying to get the demon to leave, the monk calmed down. He sat next to the demon, not meditating, not taunting it, and not showing it any affection. He simply sat with it, and allowed it to be there. He felt no sadness, no frustration, and had no hope that it would go away. He succumbed and allowed it to be.
It was then the demon shrunk into a tiny creature, which then slowly crawled its way out of the cave. The monk did not cry—in happiness or in sadness—nor did he smile—in happiness or in self-proclaimed victory.
He sat there, content, and quietly said, “Everything is not lost and nothing is to be gained.”
Maitreya, the Laughing Buddha