Our work is to respond appropriately to what is called for in each situation as it arises. Each situation calls for something. How we respond to that call makes all the difference. When we are more concerned with what we are asking for from the situation than with what the situation is asking for from us, there is a problem. Our place is to live in accord with the rhythm of life in the moment of our living, in harmony with the ebbs and flows of the tides of life. What is it time for here and now? What is proper for this occasion? What is happening? What needs to happen in response? What we want is irrelevant to what is needed. We may not want to take the terrible tasting medicine, but if it is time to take our medicine, that takes precedent over every other concern. We may not want to go to work, but if it is time to go to work, that takes precedent over all of our wants and wishes. Every situation has its needs. Some of those situations allow for our wants to be honored, but not every situation. Our place is to acquiesce to the needs of the situation when that is required, and to serve our own interests when that is permitted without damaging the situation. We have to read the situation correctly and respond as needed. Our failure to do that has things where they are in all situations great and small around the world. As a species, we are not reading situations correctly or responding as needed to what is happening in each situation as it arises. And here we are. We could start turning things around in the next situation that comes along. How 'Bout we do?
Wait. A. Minute! I see what your problem is! You want things to be different than they are! If things were just what they ought to be, you would be fine! That's a problem. We all live in the space between how things are and how we wish they were. We all have the same problem. How well we deal with it is a matter of our individual idiosyncrasies. And a reflection of our degree of personal awareness of our situation, and of the possibilities that exist for us, and of our opinion of our choices. How long are we willing to wait for things to change? What are we going to do in the meantime? Is there anything we can do to make things better? How soon can we expect our actions to have an impact? "This is the way things are, and this is what we can do about it, and that's that!" Coming to terms with our situation in life and the options available to us is the sine qua non of growing up. Growing up is the Final Solution to all of our problems ever. When there is nothing we can do about it-- any of it-- any of the things that are Really Important-- we can always Grow Up Some More Again. The Swiss Army Knife fix for all that we don't like about our life and life in general.
Alan Watts said, "When you want things to be different than they are, you are wishing for your situation to be different than it is, and thinking that it should be otherwise. When that is the case, shut out any thought that your situation should be otherwise, and stop ruining the experience you could be having with your life just as it is. Tell yourself: 'This is it! This is life! Look at it! Don't miss a thing!'" (Or words to that effect) Joseph Campbell would add: "The psychological transformation (here) would be that whatever was formerly endured is now known, loved, and served." Campbell goes on to point out: "The aim of all religious exercises is a psychological transformation." The "psychological transformation" Campbell and Watts are talking about is the slight shift in perspective that is required to see the optical illusion "click" from the haggard old woman to the beautiful young girl, from the silhouette of a wine glass to the silhouettes of two people facing each other. Our life is an optical illusion. What we see is a function of how we look-- of what we look for-- of what we expect to see, of our opinion about what we do see. Being fully With our life in each situation as it arises, moment-to-moment is to know it is just so and is asking for "just this" from us. Why withhold what is being called for? Why resist the moment that is unfolding before us? Why not take "NO!" for an answer to us from the moment, instead of declaring "NO!" to the moment? This doesn't mean lie down, become a door mat, allowing "the moment" to walk all over us and wipe its feet on us. We can participate in the sorrows of the world, in the agony of the moment as we work to transform the world and redeem the moment, even as we do what is being called for in any particular situation/moment. This is dancing with the contradictions, embracing the polarities, integrating the opposites, and bearing the pain of the world "thus come" with the joy of doing "what is set before us" in doing what must be done about things as they are. Our work is the redemption and transformation of the world. This doesn't mean demolishing and destroying the world "thus come." It means saying to the world "thus come," "Sit with me and tell me your story, and I will tell you mine..." The work of redemption/transformation is the work of participating in the sorrows of the world "thus come" as we joyfully do what is called for in loving that world into all it may yet be. Our ability to do that rides on our being capable of not demanding that the world be otherwise right now! That it not be different than it is instantly. How soon things can change and how quickly we want them to change have to be seen for what they are. We have to do what needs to be done to enable things to be different than they are without insisting that the world be what we want it to be immediately. The pain of transition must be borne consciously, intentionally, deliberately, with awareness and compassion. How long has the world been as it is? That is a lot of momentum! A lot of inertia! Do not despair that ours is the Sisyphusian task of rolling the ball through time! Put your shoulder to the wheel and keep it turning! Our work is to do the work that needs to be done! In each situation as it arises! Waking up those who can be awakened, without thinking that our prospects should be otherwise from moment-to-moment-to-moment.