Is it possible to be calm while an earthquake disrupts everything around you? This is one of the questions I like most, didn’t you notice it? Well, Zen masters show it is, and not only them. It happens when we put ourselves before anything else – our peace of mind – while giving others the best example during hard times.
Here you’ve got an example from The obstacle is the way:
At age 67, Thomas Edison returned home early one evening from another day at the laboratory. Shortly after dinner, a man came rushing into his house with urgent news: A fire had broken out at Edison’s research and production campus a few miles away.
Fire engines from eight nearby towns rushed to the scene, but they could not contain the blaze. Fueled by the strange chemicals in the various buildings, green and yellow flames shot up six and seven stories, threatening to destroy the entire empire Edison had to spend his life building.
Edison calmly but quickly made his way to the fire, through theknow hundreds of onlookers and devastated employees, looking for his son. “Go get your mother and all her friends,” he told his son with childlike excitement. “They’ll never see a fire like this again”.
Unconventional wisdom turned to action. Ryan Holiday completes the picture with this wise piece of advice:
We don’t get to choose what happens to us, but we can always choose how we feel about it. And why on earth would you choose to feel anything but good? We can choose to render a good account off ourselves. If the event must occur, Amor fati is the response.
It’s a little unnatural, I know, to feel gratitude for things we never wanted to happen in the first place. But we know […] the opportunities and benefits that lie within adversities. We know that in overcoming them, we emerge stronger, sharper, empowered. There is little reason to delay these feelings. To begrudgingly acknowledge later that it was for the best, when we could have a felt that in advance because it was inevitable.
You love it because it’s all fuel. And you don’t just want fuel. You need it. You can’t go anywhere without it. No one or no thing can. So you are grateful for it.
I have a metaphisycal block that can’t make me accept completely this point of view. I covered all that in the linked post, and my position hasn’t changed. But I admit that Holiday’s words are very powerful. Maybe they’re not metaphisycally correct, but they have awakened my soul.
Anyhow, the critical point here is to recognize that we do love what happens around us and within ourselves. Always. It is a matter of redefining what we intend for love.
If you think at love as that magic power that sustains everything, that simply allows everything to be, and you experience it within yourself as pure consciousness, well, you’re done. You are the world, as Krishnamurti would say.
From this point, I can both love the idea that I’m responsible for my feelings, together with the fact that I don’t agree. This seems to be the fate.
This universal skill is the root of emotional freedom. We don’t need to be loved anymore, we can directly love ourselves. Would Beatles have had the same success, changing their lyrics in “We don’t need no love”? Ray Charles may had, actually!
Here follow some precious insights from Alice Miller (The drama of the gifted child, Italian version):
In quanto adulti non abbiamo bisogno di un amore incondizionato. Si tratta di un bisogno infantile, che in seguito non può più essere soddisfatto. Chi non ha mai pianto tale perdita nell’infanzia, si trastulla con delle illusioni.
[…] Se il bambino deve adattarsi per mantenere viva in sè l’illusione dell’amore, della dedizione e della benevolenza, l’adulto invece non ha più bisogno di tale illusione per poter sopravvivere. Può rinunciare alla cecità per decidere come agire con gli occhi ben aperti.
Sia il soggetto grandioso che quello depresso negano completamente la realtà della loro infanzia in quanto vivono entrambi come se si potesse recuperare la disponibilità dei genitori: il grandioso nell’illusione di riuscirvi, il depresso nell’angoscia continua di perdere la dedizione dei genitori per propria colpa. Nessuno dei due però riesce ad accettare la verità, ad ammettere cioè che nel proprio passato non c’era amore, e che questo dato di fatto non potrà essere mutato con tutta la buona volontà del mondo.
If we somehow feel that our childhood lacked of love, here is when being adult becomes valuable: we can give us everything we need, from the very beginning: loving our story.