LIVING THE SOULFUL LIFE
Change Is A Fact;
Loss Is An Opinion
By Scott Kalechstein
An old man and his son worked on a small farm, with only one horse to pull the plow. One day, the horse ran away. How terrible, sympathized the neighbors. What bad luck. Who knows whether it is good luck or bad luck, the farmer replied. A week later, the horse returned from the mountains, leading five wild mares into the barn. What wonderful luck! said the neighbors. Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows? answered the old man. The next day, the son, trying to tame one of the horses, fell and broke his leg. How terrible. What bad luck! Bad luck? Good Luck? The army came to all the farms to take the young men for war. The farmers son was of no use to them, so he was spared. Good? Bad?
Dan Millman, The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior
In October 1995, I sat with a very gifted counselor who offered both near and far-sighted visions for my journey. Revealing to me my own vision problems, she exposed my perceptual myopia in one masterful sentence: You see your life as a series of losses and disappointments; we see it, however, as a series of completions and learnings.
I felt stunned, regretful and set free, all at the same time. The liberating aspect of digesting her words was this: If I had been habitually seeing the glass half empty, I could begin to cultivate a new habit starting now, a way of seeing that acknowledged the blessing within each challenge, the goodness and God-ness wrapped within each of lifes experiences.
After that session I began to consciously work on taming my egos quick tongue, my tendency to make snap judgments about life. Relieving myself of the burden of dividing experiences into categories of good and bad, I began to understand what the following meant. It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters, and circumstances are helpful. I started to see that loss was simply a distorted lens placed in front of my eyes, a way of seeing that filtered out my awareness of the Divine Hands orchestrating everything. I began to trust life more, and judge it less.
There is a part of Thailand where families live by a river in houses constructed to serve also as rafts. During monsoon season, the rains sweep the houses into the river. The families live closely on their now-houseboats for six months, rolling down the river in harmony with the forces of nature. When the rains end they set up shop where they land.
In our culture we are hypnotized to believe that it is possible to create a life free of change. Instead of rolling down the river of life, we tend to build our houses, relationships, and sense of security on an illusion of solid ground, entrenched in the dream that change will not come. Then shift happens, and we interpret it as loss. Meanwhile, it is only change, a force of nature that cannot be avoided as long as one has a pulse.
I have a proposition to make, one that I hope will engage you in contemplation and stretch your mind a bit: there is no such thing as loss. I propose that loss, like a shadow, is a no-thing. When change happens in life, you may perceive it through a glass darkly, but that glass is only your distorted diagnosis. Loss is just an opinion, and one you can change.
Imagine this for a moment: What would it be like to entertain the belief that an exhale is a huge loss, that another inhale like the one you just had may never come again? What if, after a fresh intake of air, you fought against the impending exhale, not trusting that life will cycle you into a new inhale just when you need it next? You just might tense up as you breathe, trying to hold your inhalation for as long as you can. Perhaps you might experience major control dramas in your life as the exhale explodes through your resistance and follows its natural course. Then you might grab the next breath, sucking it down as if it were something you desperately craved, not taking the time to enjoy it in gracious receptivity. Oh, what a drama it would be!
My most convincing performances, acting out this drama of loss, have been in romantic relationships. Oh, how I have suffered in them, and especially in their exhales! Even if it had been a painful relationship with little or no joy, I was convinced that I would never again find another inhale so wonderful. I have hyper-ventilated my relationships, going from woman to woman in quick succession, desperate to avoid loneliness and the unresolved pain of abandonment I was secretly hoping relationships would save me from. I have played out the theme of most love songs on the radio Never gonna let you go, etc. I have groveled, cajoled, begged and manipulated to get the girl and keep her in my life. With much grief, time, and therapy, I would finally let her go. Then the next one would come along and Id be breathing heavy again!
In 1995 I had had enough and consciously took a breather from romantic relationships. Instead, I focused on trusting life and finding security within myself. I cried a great deal during that time, but the tears were not of self-pity; they were the tears of a great cleansing, purging years of supressed abandonment pain that had been lodged in my cellular memory. Every good cry made more space inside for a new sense of self to grow. On the outside, I bought flowers for myself every week. I learned about setting boundaries, staying balanced, and other new behaviors and patterns that expressed self love. Gradually I learned how to take good, loving care of me. I discovered the only lasting way to heal abandonment issues is to stop abandoning yourself. Being alone, previously experienced as loss, punishment, a hardship to be endured, in that process became something of a gift, a blessing, a pathway back home to my soul.
Eventually, in Gods perfect timing (and not my egos!), a woman showed up who now is my best friend and lover, and our connection is not an alliance based on avoiding the fear of loss. It is a partnership based on expressing the gift of love. We have, for the most part, a peaceful relationship. Having been a drama major most of my life, I am gradually getting used to this profound change in curriculum. I am finding out that resting in peace is not just reserved for the dearly departed. We life hogs can experience it as well, by finding it first within, and then bringing it to our relationships.
Imagine a life where we do not perceive loss at all. Change, yes; but not loss. All of lifes experiences, as Ram Dass, has said, are grist for the mill of awakening. When someone or something leaves our life, we trust and know it is appropriate. We know its absence makes room for something more. When a relationship, a job, or a stage of life ends, we do not rush to fill the space. We allow ourselves to experience the void, the empty space that cleans our slate and prepares us for the next of lifes adventures. New guidance and directions come, as we let them. Life always evolves us to greater expansion.
Even if we kick and scream, fear and resist it, evolution happens. Trusting it, however, is much more fun. I encourage you to look, as I am also learning to do, upon all the changes in life and see not losses and disappointments, but completions, learnings, inhales and exhales. And the next time you are tempted to diagnose a life experience as a loss, please, get a second opinion!
Scott Kalechstein wears many hats. He is a singer/songwriter/recording artist/speaker/minister/workshop leader/writer. He shares his uplifting music and messages internationally at conferences, workshops, churches, weddings, private gatherings wherever people are open to a heart-centered approach to learning, growing and healing. A pioneer in the field of Song Portraits, Scott is known for his unique ability to create songs spontaneously about a person or a topic. In all that he does, he serves as a wise, gentle and humorous escort for those making the transition from suffering to celebration, from fear to love. For inquiries, contact Scott at (760) 753-2359 or e-mail him at: email@example.com
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