The Eternal Classroom

Life’s tests and 4 easy tricks for handling the doozies
Phot credits: The Son of Man painting by René Magritte
August 1, 2023

It’s forced upon us. We can never not be learning and studying. Being alive means being a student of life. It’s like being forced to go to school when all we want to do is play hookie, stay in bed, watch movies and eat pizza and cookies all day. Ah but we’re on life’s terms, not ours. It’s like feeling butterflies in our stomach before our recital or speech and thinking, ‘I hope I don’t screw it up!’ It’s like watching the clock and hearing our heartbeat as we scribble our answers through the final exam. And it’s like going back home from ballet or soccer practice only to do more studying after a long mentally and socially tedious day. Life is an eternal classroom. There is summer’s break, but even then we’re given books to read and school starts up again before we want it to. And just when we think we’re ready to graduate, that’s when college comes along to challenge us more and keep us at our desks, studious yet again. The machinery is always going. Even when we sleep. In this school that is Life, when I find I have no clue what the answer is, I remind myself of these four principles:

Breathe. With just ONE deep breath, I am that much closer to the answer, to clarity. And to peace.

Embrace Faith. Take a chance on Faith, not religion or hope. Hope walks through the fire, but Faith leaps over it. Let’s change our perspective to: Life is happening for us, not to us. Let’s remember that the Intelligence that created and spins this world knows exactly what it’s doing. With this switch in mindset, I immediately change from victim-mode to MASTER-mode. And then I ask for, or actually, demand clarity. NOW. We can have it our way, on our terms, if we’re reasonable and intuitive.

My job is me! I try to bring it back to me. To focus less (and therefore NOT BLAME) others or my surroundings for any stress I may be undergoing. I keep in my mind that “I—no one else—am responsible for me!” Others will not change from what I tell or try to show them.

And lastly, LAUGH IT OFF. With reverence, of course. When I’ve done my best and still feel frustrated or lost, belting out a big 😆😂 with a genuine shrug is all I have left to do—and the best remedy to prepare myself to go back up.

I realized these (yes, well-known) tips after my 2023 summer trip from Spain with my family. After breaking my wrist-bone one night, everything (apparently at first) turned to SH*T. Not only the pain, the fright, the responsibility to decide whether or not to operate, and the inconvenience in time, effort and energy to heal, but also the tensions in the dynamic in my couple turned my recently pristine life to “merde.”

Rationally, I know that hurdles, mishaps, and unfair slights from someone or something in our lives are all part of Life’s classroom curriculum and that I’m supposed to dutifully study for and take the damn test. Oh but it’s tough, and I rage and pout and bring out the theatrics every time!

Today’s lesson, you ask? Notepads out. We are all human. And no experience, no one thing, and no other human is too much or too foreign for us to handle. If we can internalize (REMIND ourselves) that countless others for centuries past (and centuries to come) have gone and will go through the same or worse, we will never be able to say of any experience, “Why is this happening to me?!” Instead, when we are taking the test of the challenge, we can intentionally use our energies con​structively as opposed to ​destructively. It’s always a choice.

And if we can do that about the negative, just think what we can do about the positive! If one person can dream a great dream, learn to love themselves, and dare to be bigger than the condition which they face, then clearly that means we can all be transformers, stretch gordons and superheroes.

When we are confronting one or more challenges, we need to call upon (either actually or figuratively) all the people that have loved and been kind to us, all our guides, our angels, and Infinite Intelligence to help us. We need to call upon our heart. And the more we prepare ourselves to transform, stretch, and be super-heroic, the more we’ll also inspire, and hopefully be a blessing to others.

The thing is to be humble. To realize that we are just one of many billions of others who are overcoming the same, who have gone through unfathomably worse than us quite privileged ones. It’s also imperative we remind ourselves to be the same gentle and humble person we are when we go through challenges as when our lives are ephemerally pristine.

Along with months of electro-stimulus therapy (among sundry other modalities), I also healed my wrist with Love. And in just the same way, I also tamed the discord between my hubbo and me… with practiced humility, gentleness, and a bare and loving heart.

Let’s liberate ourselves and others with Love.

Let’s realize that sadness, elation, disappointment, satisfaction, the ugly, the beautiful… are all just ritual tests from the classroom of life.

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