Monday, March 4, 2013

365 Inspirations—63: The Highs and the Lows of Life

"Been walking my mind to an easy time, my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it'll turn your head around."
—James Taylor

Another repost from my 365 Lessons I wrote in 2010. This was lesson 297. I can't believe I wrote that many!

There will be highs and there will be lows in life. It's unavoidable. Sunny days don't last forever, but sometimes, during high periods of life, it feels like they willBut when the winds and rains come, it can also feel like they may never end. Like they are here to stay...FOREVER.

But the only thing in life that can be certain, that we know is absolutely true, is that everything changes...EVERYTHING. Whatever you are doing right now will come to pass. Whatever amazing or terrible time you are having right now will end, eventually. So how do you live life in a world that constantly changes, that has highs and lows, a world where the sun is so bright and days so beautiful that you feel like heaven must be on earth, but then the darkest of days and the loneliest of nights fall upon you and you can't seem to pull yourself out of it?

What do you do?

You learn to ride the waves of life. If you don't learn to ride them, then you will be crashed about by them.

And how do you ride the waves in life?

For me it's helped to realize the above. That everything changes. But not just realize it, witness it. Meditation has proved to be so helpful to me in witnessing change firsthand. Instead of getting sucked into the storms and changing weather patterns, I step back and observe them and even watch them change.

This morning, I woke up at 8am and attended a group meditation session in my husband's yoga studio. Every Sunday I attend this session from 8-9am. Last weekend the house was full; there were so many people. We never know how many meditators will show up. The sitting is for old students of Vipassana Meditation, so anyone who has attended at least one 10-day meditation course in this tradition can join the Sunday sit. I woke up to storms. The wind was whipping around and the rain was coming down in buckets. Who, in their right mind, would go outside at 7:30am to drive to a yoga school for an hour meditation session, but that I did. My husband and I were the only ones there. He had set up twenty cushions, but no one wanted to brave the storm I guess. So there we were, sitting on our cushions on opposite sides of the huge room, just my husband and me. I looked over at him and said, "Should we meditate?" To which he replied, "Of course."

I could hear the rain come down on top of the building. Outside in the parking lot, it sounded like shopping carts were being overturned. The rain under the tires on the main street outside made a whooshing sound. The wind howled and whistled through the opening of the double doors, sometimes shaking and rattling them in their frame. I observed the storm and by the end of the hour it had subsided.

Being an observer in life has made such a difference. It doesn't mean I don't still get sucked into the highs and lows of life, but at least there is a part of me that knows, deep down inside, that things will change and that showing up, instead of giving up, is important.

Just show up to life and see what happens. Show up with an opened mind. Don't decide before you show up that its going to be terrible. Maybe it will be GREAT. You just never know.

Everyday I show up to this blog. Let me tell you, it's not always easy. Writing every single day is difficult. Sometimes I feel like I have nothing more to say or I'm angry or I'm tired or I'm even sick, but I show up because that's what I've committed myself to. I've committed myself to this journey no matter what the day presents. This has been an amazing journey of self discipline for me and it has proved to me that success doesn't come just when we are in a "high" period in our lives. Success happens when we show up and are committed to our lives and goals even when the storms come and try to knock us down.

I have a book on my bookshelf called Wishcraft by Barbara Sher. In it, she says, 

"Famous (successful) people have suffered the same ups and downs as the rest of us. The only way they are at all different from you and me is that they didn't take the low moods as signals to give up. They sometimes felt like giving up, of course..(but) they kept going. And so they made a great discovery that you are also going to make: success does not depend on how you feel. Human moods have remarkably little to do with effective action--and it's a good thing, or we'd all still be living in caves...Great deeds are made up of small, steady actions, and it is these that you must learn to value and sustain."

This was important information for me to read today. I have felt like giving up recently. Like everything I've been doing is worthless. But, after sitting through a storm during meditation this morning all alone with my husband, I realized that "this too shall pass."

How do you handle the storms of your life? Are you able to handle both the highs and the lows?


  1. I have always tried to approach this by not getting to high during the good times and not getting too low during the bad times.

    1. That's a good way to approach the highs and lows!!!

  2. I have been working on being more mindful and observant, and having more gratitude. Those things help me weather the low periods.