I’ve been going through it lately. A bad “it.” “It” can be a lot of things to different people, but “it”‘s are everywhere. I’m tired of “it.” Figuring out how to cope with “it” all has been a top priority for me, when I could figure things out at all. In my better moments, I thought I might perhaps “write my way out” Hamilton-style, so I did a bit of research combining four sources:
- “No-nonsense Buddhism for Beginners,” by Noah Rasheta (a Buddhist perspective)
- “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk (a medical perspective)
- “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis (a Christian perspective)
- The “Everything Everywhere All at Once” movie (an artistic perspective)
Obviously, these are nowhere near comprehensive evaluations of that particular institution’s conception of how to get over life’s difficulties. But these are my favorite examples, so they are what speak to me. From those sources I’ve found four general steps towards dealing with our “it,” or as EEAAO would say, the “everything bagel” which has all of our collective sh*t piled on top of it.
Like the Hitchhiker’s Guide says, “Don’t Panic.” AKA “Sh*t happens.”
EEAAO: “We’re all stupid. We’re all small, stupid humans. It’s like our whole deal.”
Buddhist: Embrace the instance of suffering (It’s going to happen sooner or later to all of us.)
Medical: Find a way to be calm and focused.
I take this to mean: Yoga? Gardening? Reading? Silly YouTube videos? Go for it.
Like Monty Python says, “Always look on the bright side of life.”
EEAAO: “When I choose to see the good side of things, I’m not being naive. It is strategic and necessary. It’s how I learned to survive through everything.” — Waymond.
Buddhist: Let go of the reactive pattern of reinforcing suffering by dwelling on it.
Medical: Learning to maintain that calm in response to images, thoughts, sounds, or physical sensations that remind you of the past
Christian: “Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.” &
“For, as I have discovered, passionate grief does not link us with the dead but cuts us off from them.”
I take this to mean: You have permission to not think about all the consequences all the time – and to re-train yourself to be open to new things.
Like Elsa said, “let it go” – then come down from the ice castle
EEAAO: “Of All The Places I Could Be, I Just Want To Be Here With You.” — Evelyn.
Buddhist: See the stopping of the reactivity – cease the craving not to suffer. Realize yourself observing the emotions/thoughts and letting them fly away like birds.
Medical: Find a way to be fully alive in the present and engaged with the people around you.
I take this to mean: Find good people, talk to good people, read about good people, be with good people.
As the Doctor says, “Never be cruel, never be cowardly.”
EEAAO: ‘The only thing I do know is that we have to be kind. Please, be kind. Especially when we don’t know what’s going on.’ – Waymond (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
Buddhist: Act skillfully with…
Wisdom – Right understanding and intent
Ethical conduct – Right speech, action, livelihood
Mental discipline – Right effort, mindfulness, concentration
“We must continually seek wisdom to help us learn to see the world as it really is… the wisdom of understanding is not acquiring more knowledge. In fact, it’s the opposite: It’s about trying to unlearn the concepts and ideas that prevent us from seeing reality as it is.”
Medical: Do not keep secrets from yourself, including secrets about the ways that you have managed to survive.
CSL: “I mustn’t sit down content with the phantasmagoria itself and worship that for Him, or love that for her. Not my idea of God, but God. Not my idea of H., but H. Not my idea of my neighbor, but my neighbor. For don’t we often make this mistake as regards people who are still alive- who are with us in the same room? Talking and acting not to the man himself but the picture- almost the precise – we’ve made of him in our minds.”
I take this to mean: It’s not self-indulgent but it is vital to seek truth in ourselves as well as in others – and to act upon those truths with generosity, consideration, and kindness.
Finally, I take comfort in how little we know.
Part of despair is the feeling like we now know the sum of things, and that sum is terrible. That the everything bagel is everything. But it isn’t. We really don’t know what it’s all about our where we fit in or where our bagels fit in. But that leaves room for endless possibility – which means there’s room for hope.
Christian: “Five senses; an incurably abstract intellect; a haphazardly selective memory; a set of preconceptions and assumptions so numerous that I can never examine more than a minority of them – never become even conscious of them all. How much of total reality can such an apparatus let through?”….
“And, more than once, that impression which I can’t describe except by saying that it’s like the sound of a chuckle in the darkness. The sense that some shattering and disarming simplicity is the real answer.”