Have you ever considered why life is not a bland monotone? Imagine for a minute if it were. How boring would life be! Rather it comprises the strident highs of a tweeter and the thumping lows of a bass. It is the opposites and their interaction that makes life sweeter.
Switch on one’s favourite melody and close your eyes. Let the sound flow over and through you. One is enraptured by the interplay of the various components – the lead with its highs, the bass with its lows, the keyboards with its melody and the drums with its beat.
Main photograph: A bamboo forest in China
Now switch off the bass. What was the rich, evocative and stirring song has now morphed into an anodyne and insipid artefact. How can something that is so exquisite be transformed into something so bland, lacklustre and colourless?
This is equally true of life as well.
Consider the incongruity of the following.
It requires the effort of a strenuous struggle on a hard day’s hike to make that ice cold beer at the end of the day taste like nectar. One will never ever forget that feeling as the cool liquid slides down one’s throat without touching sides. As one relaxes, a feeling of elation effuses the body and one’s being communes with the world and with nature.
Would this beer have tasted as welcoming, as tantalising, if one had been at home on a Sunday afternoon? I can bet that it would never have tasted even half as refreshing and energising yet it is the self-same beer at the same temperature as the one that one drank on the hike.
The sense of accomplishment after an arduous task is completed is profound and deep-rooted. The attainment of one’s objective after the trials and tribulations of the journey are what provide the sense of well-being and the release of the endorphins which provides the natural high.
So it is with life itself.
It is not attainment of the end goal but rather the journey itself which evokes the sense of achievement. The more arduous the expedition, the more debilitating the struggle, the more fulfilling the savouring the attainment thereof is.
I often imagine what it must have been like to survive the Holocaust when all of those around one succumbed to the inevitable but I survived. Would I not have adopted a different stance on life? Would I not have discarded all the petty squabbles and rather embraced the good in others?
It is not just the sense of fulfilment which one must strive for even though I contend that it is the most powerful stimulant in life. There are also other aspects, equally important, that one should be focusing upon to obtain the full kaleidoscope of sights and the complete range of sounds and that is mindfulness – being in the moment, being consciously aware of what is happening around one.
Most of us sleepwalk through life and only become aware of changes when one collides with them or when they impinge on one’s life.
Below are some thoughts about living mindfully:
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” ~Amit Ray
“In the end, just three things matter: How well we have lived. How well we have loved. How well we have learned to let go” ~Jack Kornfield
“Do every act of your life as though it were the last act of your life.” ~Marcus Aurelius
“Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.” ~Robin S. Sharma
Living mindfully will never replicate the exuberance of completing a difficult task but it will certainly make the enjoyment of life that much sweeter.
Discard those friends who view the world through a dark prism for they diminish the gaiety and spontaneity of life.
Holding grudges is equivalent to snuffing out the pleasure in one’s life. Acknowledge what is wrong, forgive the person and banish it together with the complete list of resentments in one’s life. If not, it is like an insidious poison gradually strangling one’s relationship. Whether in a marriage or a friendship, should the sense of hurt be too burdensome to endure, then rather terminate that relationship. Life is too short to tolerate the pain and continual hurt. It is the lack of trust and openness that a trusting relationship provides which is the cornerstone of a fulfilling relationship. Without that it is akin to a desiccated plant – lifeless and valueless.
Never denigrate the darkness, the dull and dreary skies or the melancholy days. Like the rough and the delicate weave of a cloth, the stages of life, the mellow shades of autumn juxtaposed with the lifeless winters and the vibrant summers, these are the contrasts of life which provide its vitality, sparkle & sense of desire & wonder.
Do all these things and life will have purpose and a brightness that will be fulfilling. Such is the irony of life and its enjoyment. As the exiled King Edward VIII in sumptuous exile in France once remarked to his friends, “Life is so pointless and meaningless without a purpose.”
Life is a paradox. Without striving and enduring pain and hardship, it is a pale imitation of the real thing. The cold beer after a hard run, the relaxing weekend after a hard week, all display these characteristics.
The enjoyment after the struggle is like an elixir coursing through one’s veins.
So shrug off the negative by either disassociating with whatever is causing the negative feelings. Enjoy the overcast day as much as the bright sunny day and see the positive in all situations.
Discard the negative.
Embrace the positive
And revel in the inanities of life.
Wait in anticipation for the change in seasons. Take pleasure from the dry and the wet, the highs and the lows.
Be conscious of one’s surroundings and the beauty that it holds.
Strive for one’s goals.
Life is to be lived.
So live it
Live life to the brim.