Over the lifespan there is one ongoing refrain we struggle to accept: we, though we achieve, substantially at times, are not there yet—not to where we want to be. This is part of the human drive to harmonise the tension between the characteristic want-of-perfection and our inevitable fatal flaws.
We’re innately wired for success; yet life is actually sprinkled with many (in some cases, too many!) reminders of failure.
It’s a Humbling Life
In all walks of life, whether in competitive sport, the sciences, in any region of social acumen, everywhere, there is the inexplicable and undeniable role of chance. Some call it luck. Others call it blessing and cursing. No matter what we call it we can know that some days the wind blows our way and others it does not.
We choose our best performance today and get different results compared with the same choice made yesterday.
Similarly, relationships bear the dubious honour of unpredictability. Whether by our states-of-mind, moods, and situations of ranging competence and confidence, or theirs, there is a multitude of variables that come into active play. These reinforce beliefs that we cannot ever guarantee results in a human realm.
Life is fickle, and in this way it’s humbling. Life reminds us, we’re not there yet.
A Better Philosophy for Life
How must we succeed in life when the metaphysical and spiritual environments that encapsulate our existence are so cleverly subject to change and unpredictability?
There is only one way, which, ironically, the question itself, above, reveals as the right way.
That right way is in the permanence, and state-of-continual-mindfulness, of an attitude prescribing we’re not there yet; and, we’ll never fully be there—wherever “there” is.
This is an accepted humility which understands the perilous means by which we are tenuously exposed to life. This attitude accepts that life, whether we like it or not, is a process of learning and relearning many things, from the technical and aristocratic to the most unrefined and basic, even embarrassing, things (some ‘not worthy’ of us).
In this way the God of creation reminds us who is really in control.
The Irony of Victory
Victory comes to the definitive self upon acquiescence to everything but the self.
Found, then, as a blessed habit—conditional on the practice of surrendering all of one’s preconceived ideas for managing our moments—the keys of grace are given us.
A fundamental shift has occurred deep within as we celebrate, continually, the serendipity of life, our lack of control over it, and our ease-of-mind in such a bizarre set of living circumstances.
This is, indeed, a great irony. No wonder many people struggle to accept such a calamitous life. The secret to life is harmonising the agony with the ecstasy, and vice versa.
A condition for growth, and therefore health, is the underpinning acceptance that we’re not there yet—and in this life, perhaps, never will be.
Periods of success tend as much to deceive us in pride as instances of failure prevail over us toward despair. Life is neither success nor failure; real life is always somewhere in the middle.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.