Life As Is

How we see life changes over time. When we are children or young adults, it stretches before us in vast waves of possibility and potential. In middle age, we become one with the waves and often forget about our own progress on the trajectory of life. Then as we begin to grow older, we may find ourselves looking more closely into the greater meaning of life and our own lives in particular. A subtle shift in language occurs: “my life” becomes “the rest of my life.” How strange that seems, both to hear and to say. That “rest” could be 30+ years or one year, no way of knowing. Of course, that is true at any time of our lives, but the longer we live, the deeper we feel that truth.

 As I look at my life, I feel both joy and sadness. Joy at the blessings that fill it, both people and experiences, and sadness at its ephemeral essence. Impermanence is the basic nature of life on Earth. Yet, full acceptance of that very impermanence is one of the greatest pieces of wisdom we can attain in our lifetime. At a certain point, we come to realize that all we are given here is rich beyond words. Language cannot fully express the wonder of living with eyes and heart wide-open on this sweet planet. The longer I live, the more profoundly I am touched by the beauty of Nature and the love of friends and family, realizing it is all fleeting and everlasting simultaneously.

Over time, I have come to surrender to life exactly as it presents itself. That is the essence of the spiritual journey I have been on for many years. Initially I was looking for a way to accept eternity, the stretch of infinity beyond my lifetime. What I found, and continue to find, is that that acceptance lies hidden in all the details of my daily life. Each tree, flower, or human soul I encounter is eternal, the entire universe held in its very beingness. When I stand in awe of that living Presence, I “hold infinity in the palm of my hand,” as William Blake wrote. Infinity, once a source of fear and suffering for me, instead becomes a source of liberation.

Humans invented time and space to try to explain the world and our lives. When we step away from that limited view, explanation is no longer necessary. We stand in eternal Presence, and within that is the meaning of life. What I have searched for most of my life is not what I thought it was. It is not an answer to a question, but rather living beyond questions and answers. This is what Ram Dass referred to as “loving awareness.” It is not something that can be explained but only experienced. And the longer you live, the deeper the experience.

Ultimately, we discover there is no end, nor any beginning. Definitions and parameters fall away, and all that is before and within me is life as is, both a miracle and a blessing. Human joy and sadness interweave within that vision. Every single experience is part of life, designed at the soul level for our expansion into awareness of the light that fills us—and everything.

Reflections on a Board Game

Anne and I have played Scrabble regularly for years. We like the mind exercise involved in forming words to fit on the board in often difficult places. Recently we bought a new board game called Wingspan, which I had read about online. It was a bit complicated to learn, but now we love it. Players create small bird sanctuaries on their individual boards, using bird cards, bonus cards, food and egg representations, and colorful markers and dice. In the course of four rounds of play, each player fills their habitats, and points accumulated from various plays and cards determine the winner. Overall, we are fairly evenly matched, with Anne usually winning more frequently at Scrabble and me winning more often at Wingspan. Occasionally we tie!

So, board games are fun, right? Relaxing as well as stimulating to the mind. But could they also be seen as a reflection of life, something we could learn from? This way of looking at them occurred to me recently when I was repeatedly losing every Scrabble game. It seemed that I was always drawing letters that did not make words—all vowels or all consonants. Meanwhile, Anne was sailing along forming five- to seven-letter words, often with triple scores. After the sixth or seventh game like this, I began to feel frustrated and angry, as if it was more than just bad luck. When I then lost a Wingspan game in similar fashion, it seemed like the last straw: God was literally “stacking the cards against me”!

As soon as that thought passed through my mind, something clicked, and I realized that each game was a reflection of life, and together they were demonstrating to me a spiritual teaching that I thought I already knew by heart: Accept what is. If you resist whatever is occurring, you will be angry and upset. In a board game and in life. And so it is. Spirit has such imaginative and humorous ways of showing us life’s truths and exactly how they work. As long as I continued to be annoyed at the way a game was unfolding, I would be unhappy—and furious that I couldn’t control the outcome. So it is with life. Accept whatever comes up, and you will feel peaceful. Resist, and you will grumble and complain throughout your days on Earth.

When I came to see that Spirit and my soul were playfully reminding me of this deep truth and that it applied everywhere all the time, I smiled—and then laughed out loud. Life flows if you allow it to be exactly as it is. Board games do too. The secret is seeing them that way. Who knew that Scrabble was hiding spiritual wisdom in all those letters?!

P.S. The evening after I had this insight, I won the Scrabble game (not that it matters… ha!)