Live and learn. ;) Let me try this again…
It’s probably a good thing that we can’t solve each others’ problems because those problems are our best teachers if we allow them to be.
Maybe it’s just so much simpler to survey a problem from the outside looking in and give a suggestion than it is to feel something, to live with something, to possibly even be owned by something, and have to pull yourself out of that reality so you can start making progress.
When I read this sentence, I felt like David’s secret chord that Leonard Cohen sings about in his song “Hallelujah.” It hit me where I have been living for awhile.
We can learn from everything that happens to us. Given that we are each unique, each person will learn something different, something unique even from the same circumstances. One child grows up in poverty and becomes a Rhodes Scholar. Another child — similar time, similar place, same name, living just a few blocks away from the first — murders someone and ends up in jail. Wes Moore could not solve the other Wes Moore’s problems, even if he had been in a position to try. He could write about it, though, and understand what happened. And he could tell us about it so that we can understand too.
Each of us is unique even at each time in our lives. And sometimes life hands us close to the same experiences time after time. We will learn or not from the same experience at different times.
A few weeks ago I had an overwhelming and familiar feeling of love and affection for everyone because we are all in the same situation. As Pema Chodron puts it, we just don’t know what will happen next.
If you embrace that fundamental uncertainty of the human situation, you will come face to face with fear. Most of my life, I have run away from that fear. I think I invented a kajillion different ways to pretend that uncertainty did not exist. A lot of them looked like problems. Problems that could be solved, if I only worked a little harder, was a little smarter, was a little more easy going, a little more consistent, planned more. There is no end to this list. And none of it makes a difference.
Life is a never-ending array of challenges, possibly with brief rest periods between. When I embraced the uncertainty and faced the fear, I understood that my task isn’t to solve all these problems. It’s simply to learn and grow.
So let me change what Charlie wrote a bit. Feel something. Live with something. Let yourself be owned by something and own it in return. Embrace reality. Yeah, it’s painful. There’s no getting around that, and you just have to accept it. And then learn and grow.
When you see another person, really see them. They face exactly the same pain, uncertainty, and fear that you face. And instead of thinking about solving their problems, think about how you can help them learn and grow in directions that are best for them.