Would it be even better to learn not to attach meaning at all? Is it possible to just accept what is because it is what is?
What would life be like if we forgot all of our stories? That sounds like I’m saying forget our past but our past is our past, right? It brought us to where we are, who we are. But what if we forgot all the stories we made up about what happened, forgot all the meaning we gave our events? Would we still be who we are?
I suspect if we chose to give events different, more empowering stories (meanings) our lives would be completely different. The way we looked at our past would change. The way we looked toward our future would change. The way we are in the present moment would change.
If we could accept what happens without placing meaning to it, would our suffering end? I believe it would. I believe it’s the story we make up about tragedy that makes us suffer. If the story is this thing hurt us even if we choose not to feel it, the pain is still there until we change the story about it. Say for instance the pain and guilt I put on the event of losing my first three babies in miscarriage. The pain and guilt was my story. I didn’t live in the pain. I chose to move on, be happy, try again. But the pain was still there when I thought about my lost angels. But I changed my story from pain and guilt to the events preparing me to become the mom I am now. Changing my story took away the story of pain. It took away the feeling of pain.
We can certainly do this for events in our past. Change the story, change the meaning. How about the present?
If we can live life in the moment — no story, no meaning, just what is IS — how would that be?
So for instance I don’t get mad at the guy who cut me off while driving on the highway, honking his horn at me. Instead I just know that’s how it is. It’s what happened. He was there, I was there, he drove in front of me while I almost ran off the road to stay out of the way. That’s just what is. There’s no need to go further than that. It doesn’t really help us at all to get all wound up about something. That just turns our energy sour. But to just accept it as what is, we live in the moment — no pain, rather just contentment.
In “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie she describes what she calls “the work.” The work is asking four questions about your story to help you accept what is. The four questions are:
- Is it true?
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
Things happen because they happen. People say things for whatever reason they say things. It’s what is. It’s not who or what I am.
My life has changed after reading this and practicing “loving what is” — because it does take practice to let go of the story. Sometimes I have to remind myself; sometimes it comes easy. But realizing I can’t change it and so why associate pain to it has released so much angst that I could otherwise carry around with me. It’s enabled my heart to remain open to possibilities and love.
It is fantastic.
How will these four questions change your life?