The Danger of Not Wanting It to be This Way
Peter O'Toole’ recent death prompted a memory of the his great role in Lawrence of Arabia. The scene that stands out in my mind is the point he holds his hand over the flame of a match. His friend asks how it is done. What is the trick? Doesn’t it hurt?. Laurence replies, “The trick is not minding that it hurts.”
There is a profound truth in this. Life hurts. Sometimes it hurts a great deal. In fact we are obsessed with our own pain, and the pain of those we love. This obsessive self focus creates more pain. In fact perhaps our resistance is often worse than living with the reality of loss.
I have worked for many years with chronic pain patients, and the resistance, the not wanting it to be this way creates far more discomfort, more irritability, more fear for the future. It takes a situation that feels more than we can bear, and shifts the to more than we can hope to bear. It builds nervous energy that tears down our physical and emotional immunity, and the ability to recognize solutions.
Imagine a track and field athlete running the high hurdles. If he or she clips there toe by a quarter of an inch, the resulting fall can be horrific. The difference between success and failure would be the quarter of an inch. Little things make a big difference.
Freeing yourself from this resistance to what is, releases energy, and and greatly improves the quality of life. You may still have the situation you do not like, but it becomes bearable, and a place you can thrive.
We learn that not wanting the things to be the way that they are is fine as long as we do not take it too far. This feeling is positive when it prompts us to change. Too much of it freezes us where we are, and becomes are central identification. It may seem impossible to take a break from not wanting things as they are, but remember the power of small changes. Small things make big differences.
We observe as we are caught in the dance. It does not do not stop it by insisting, but by cutting down the source energy, stepping back and being aware the whole picture, the perceived difficulty and our response. There is always another self, a deeper self. Our resistance is not the ground of our being. We find that we can truly learn the trick: not minding that it hurts.