I once heard despair defined as “the belief that tomorrow will be exactly the same as today.” I don’t know about you, but this sounds about right to me.
The most prevalent moments of despair in my life have been when I saw my world as stagnant…unchanging. Despair had the tightest grip on me when I thought “Things will never change.” Can you relate to this?
I specifically recall the summer of 2013: for that entire summer I did the same things, day in and day out: wake up, work, eat, sleep, and hope that things would be different tomorrow. I felt stuck, and that my universe was static.
One of the coolest things that we now know about the universe is that it is ever-changing. It’s actually the opposite of static! So if the universe really is constantly unfolding and shifting, how is it that despair and monotony can even exist? Or maybe the better question is, what is it that we’re missing?
I take my dog on the same walk every single day, twice a day. We walk through the same park. We visit the same spots in the park. We see the same trees, the same grass, even the same people sometimes.
This task could so easily be a chore, a burden, and monotonous. (I think for a lot of people it is, by the way.) But for me, a lot of the time it’s the best part of my day, because I have chosen to make those walks visceral, magical, real moment of presence.
See, the thing about our ever-changing and shifting universe is that we can see it. We can see how wonderful and brutal and amazing and destructive and creative our world really is. We can see all of it. It’s right in front of our very eyes.
But on the other hand, just as we can see the moment that’s right in front of us, we can instead see a million other moments…moments from the past, moments that may or may not happen in the future, or false moments we create with our egotistical imaginations that say "This is it."
For me the shift happens when I move from “I have to” to “I get to”.
In other words, I do have to walk my dog twice a day every day. I also have to work, brush my teeth, shower, teach yoga, pay bills, etc. But I don’t just have to do those things…I get to! It’s a privilege to be able to take care of my beloved little animal, and walk together with him in the beautiful place I call home. It’s a privilege to create a delicious cup of coffee for my customers. It’s a privilege to honor and care for my body every day, and it’s a privilege to provide for myself.
But most importantly, when I shift my mindset from obligation to privilege, I see the people around me for who they really are: beautiful, wonderful beings that perfectly resemble the ever-changing universe we share.
So the question is, do you actually see the things you see every day? Do you see your loved ones? Do you see the seasons changing before your eyes? Do you see the privilege that is your job/chores/children/life? Or are you simply a passerby?
I firmly believe that once you see, you can’t unsee. At least that’s the case for me. Once my eyes were opened to the wonder around me (and they continue to open wider and wider every day), I could no longer stand the myth of monotony. And I work really hard to cultivate a sharp vision, so that I can actually be a witness to the action happening in every moment.
If you are in a job, relationship, neighborhood or set of tasks that you’re bored with, or that you think will never change, what I have to say to you is that the action is in those places. There’s really exciting and interesting stuff happening right where you are. Maybe that action is inviting you to dive in deeper. Maybe that action is showing you that there’s a different, better place for you to move towards. Whatever the case may be, I am convinced that your circumstances are not enslaving you, they’re speaking to you. They have something to say about the ever-changing universe that you’re a part of. Are you listening? Can you see?