Thursday, January 8, 2015

Learn to Respond - Dharma Art

Pencil Crayon & ink on bristol board
Original or prints available through

The tiger is a symbol of confidence and awareness. It's a calm but powerful symbol, representing an animal that knows its place and purpose and sees very clearly. It is a humble but powerful creature. 

Learning how to respond in life is taking the things we learn, the wisdom we find from our experiences, and actually applying them. I've found, more and more often, that answers cause a lot of trouble because an answer assumes that something can be pinned down or that if there is a 'right' answer then there is also a 'wrong' one. 

Life is not so black and white. Life is rich and complicated and what may work well in one relationship or situation may be entirely unhelpful or even detrimental to another. 

Learning to let go of fixed ideas of how things 'should' be is a huge part of my life now, but it wasn't always. I often tried to come up with answers in an attempt to get ground. If I 'knew' something then I could take comfort in that. 

Of course, as soon as I thought I knew something this view was often challenged. The older I get the more I realise I know very, very little. But this doesn't scare me. Instead I find it liberating. Because if there are no definitive answers then every moment can be taken as it is - freshly, with great curiosity and a sense of wonder. 

Even the most mundane of exchanges become an experiment, something I rather enjoy as I was raised by parents who encouraged an inquisitive mind. In fact, my dad has called me a scientist because of my interest in figuring out how things work, in hypothesizing and checking and re-checking results. 

When we approach our life with curiosity it really changes our experience of the world. Suddenly things aren't happening to us so much as happening for us. 

Difficult co-worker? An opportunity to learn clear communication and how to work with frustration. Annoying family member? A chance for us to learn how to accept someone as they are and not try to make them be how we want them to be. Cancelled train? A moment when we can explore our impatience and sense of entitlement and let that humble us. 

Consider life as a game with no rules other than everything will change and the only piece you can control is your own mind and your own outlook. In this way we can learn to respond to things as they are, rather than trying to make them fit into the ideas we have about them or how we wish or hope or think they should be. 

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