Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Saturday Reflection

Because we have had so many losses in such a short period of time, with another inching closer by the hour, I've been questioning a lot lately.

Yesterday evening, I was watching a documentary on the Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam, and its impact on people at different economic levels living near the river as the water was rising, as well as the job opportunities that such a project brought to the area. If folks are interested in watching, the title of it was "Up The Yangtze."

I highly recommend it. It was fascinating on so many levels in terms of Chinese culture and the tug of capitalism versus the difficulty for those the economic and engineering reforms are leaving in their wake, but the most fascinating part for me came at the start: it began with a quote from Confucius that has been haunting me.

So here is your Saturday reflection:
"By three methods may we learn wisdom:
First, by reflection, which is noblest;
second, by imitation, which is easiest;
third, by experience, which is bitterest."
- Confucius
This is a lesson I've been learning far too well the last few years. And one that I fear I'll be learning even more in the time to come.

Being a grown-up is awfully hard work sometimes, isn't it?

I've always had an affinity for philosophy and religious texts, and an obsession for asking the questions "why do things have to be this way?" and "why can't this injustice or other issue be changed for the better?"  Mostly, I ask "can't we do this in a way that is better and more just," and I always have:  it's just my nature, I suppose.

I was the kid who made her Sunday school teacher cry when I was small because I wouldn't take a pat non-answer that really didn't answer my question but instead told me not to ask irritating questions without going back to ask more.  Bad me, I suppose, but it is a personality quirk that has always led me to look deeper into things rather than being satisfied with the surface gloss.

And as things have gotten tough the last few years, I find myself picking up random travel books for escape, but thumbing through any number of my old philosophy and religion texts from college and beyond to try and find some nugget that brings either solace or wisdom to the fore.  The above quote was like a lightening bolt for me last night, because it immediately hit home under the current circumstances.

The thing is, the river of time flows forward whether we are ready or not for whatever is next around the bend.

Coming to terms with that can be hard -- I've never been very good at surrender, frankly, and I'm absolutely horrid at acceptance that there are things I cannot make better somehow -- but I'm working on it.

Life is grinding me down to resignation, acceptance or zen, but I'm just not certain which label to give it as yet.

(Photo of Guilin via ming1967.  Just beautiful, and somewhere I've always wanted to go.)

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