life as practice and the school of hard knocks
I wrote something in my last post about when we are dealt a hand that just doesn’t sit right with us, and I wanted to revisit that concept again today from a different angle. What if we’re simply dealt a bad hand? What if things simply just don’t go right, no matter how hard we try to do right?
The more people I listen to, the deeper I understand the truth: everyone I’ve ever met has been to the school of hard knocks and bad choices. Depending on which classes we attended, it was either our fault or someone else’s that things didn’t go according to plan. Maybe it still is…
Let me be clear. I’m not saying it’s ok that you’re going through hardship. It’s not ok at all, and you are right to feel all kinds of ways about it. Nor am I gonna pile some New Age “change your mindset” mantras and meditations on you (at least, not this time…). I just want you to know you’re not alone. You’re never alone. We have all had a shitty time, seen/heard/said things we wish we hadn’t, done things or thought things that we are ashamed of. That’s all. We are human and we are in this reality together, for better or worse.
What I’d like us all to remember is that life is practice. For all the goals we set ourselves, there’s no clear prescription for life. There is no universally agreed purpose for our existence, so we make our own meaning. And that meaning brings us structure, direction, and hope, but it can also bring with it disappointment, aggrievement, and despair. When we feel we’re lacking meaning, or that our expectations fall short of our reality, that punch to the gut is visceral and brutal.
As human beings, we share a moment of existence on a planet, but at the same time we live in different worlds. Some of our worlds are so all-encompassing that it’s hard to see outside them and witness other worlds, other people’s reality, their struggles, their joys. It can be hard to believe that the struggle is really shared when we only see our own truth.
Our subjugation to silos of thought and belief are obstacles to our unity. We can’t see what we have in common because we are fixated on our differences. While focusing on what divides us, we miss the moments we share in the light and the dark. We fall into the trap of believing our troubles are our own, that “nobody understands and nobody cares, how could they?” when the answer couldn’t be further from the truth. We all know how it feels to be knocked down, we have all been dealt a worse hand than those around us at some point in time. None of us are truly alone in our pain and suffering.
But because life is practice, this isn’t the final show. There will always be another rehearsal, another run-through, another scrim, another chance to fail again. There are no finished objects in the course of a life. For every victory and defeat today, we have to wake up and do it all over again. No matter how deep it cuts or how high we fly, tomorrow is a new day.
If we understand that everyone around us also a work in progress, just running through their moves and perfecting their lines time after time, we can extend compassion to ourselves and each other. We can play our bad hands knowing we’re not the only ones with them. For every card we turn over, some bad hands turn good and some good hands turn bad. Nothing is guaranteed.
But one thing’s for sure: you are not alone.