When a crisis erupts in our lives, we need to ask ourselves what is really going on. Whatever form it takes, it’s usually some kind of wake-up call. However difficult the circumstances are, we need to trust that something isn’t working and is trying to change— ultimately for our benefit.
It may not seem so at the time, and often it might be a succession of crises that we’re plunged into before we realize that life is forcing us to change. As we begin to accept this, we see that a different way of living is possible, and gradually we rebuild our lives with a new understanding.
They say troubles don’t come singly, and I certainly found that to be the case at a time in my life when I was unhappy. First of all, I contracted cerebral malaria in East Africa and ended up being hospitalized for ten days. Secondly, my beautiful home was struck by lightning, causing damage to the central twelve-foot-high chimneys. Finally, I found myself trapped in New York on 9/11, close to the World Trade Center.
Of course, I recognize that I was fortunate to escape any injury on that tragic and shocking occasion, but none the less it left me somewhat traumatized, unable to sleep for several nights, and I broke out in eczema over my entire body.
These cumulative crises forced me to reassess my life, with the result that some weeks after my return to the UK I handed in my notice and changed the way I lived totally. The following year I found myself far happier and more fulfilled than I had been in a long time.
Reassessing And Rebuilding Our Lives
My friend Yvette is an example of someone who was forced to examine her successful but stressful life as a marketing executive in publishing. Diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, not once but twice, Yvette came to appreciate the healing power of dance during her recovery. Having trained in Egyptian belly dance, she decided to give up her career and follow her passion, and she is now very successful in teaching and performing traditional Egyptian and theatrical belly dancing.
Her one-woman show, Sequins on My Balcony, offering a fresh perspective on breast cancer, body image, belly dance, and sisterhood, is gathering critical acclaim. Both funny and moving, her show celebrates the gorgeousness of women. Yvette is truly inspirational in this role she has created for herself and shares with us (also in her book), and is happier than she’s ever been.
I trust life’s process.
I am willing to accept that my life needs to change.
Letting The Path Be Our Teacher
No life unfolds without challenges, and from time to time we face a crisis that is so overwhelming that the pain is almost too much to bear. We tend to forget that we learn most from the experiences that cause us the greatest suffering. As the writer Ernest Hemingway wrote in his novel, A Farewell to Arms, about the suffering of the First World War, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
It is the broken pieces of ourselves that teach us what it is we need to learn and to grow. The problem is that when we are overwhelmed, like Dante’s hero in The Inferno, we are lost and cannot see the way ahead. We know there is no going back and that we cannot alter what has happened. We can, however, decide how we will deal with the challenge. There is always an opportunity at the heart of suffering.
We have to learn to trust the path, with its twists and turns, however difficult it seems. We may only be able to move forward little by little, but the important thing is to keep making the effort. We have to trust that we can find a way through the darkness.
And the truth is, we usually do. When we trust life’s process we begin to understand and accept that things are as they are. We learn to embrace life and see whatever is confronting us as both a lesson and a blessing, and in the unfolding we find courage and strength far greater than we thought we had. Our confidence grows as we make different choices, begin to have greater empathy with those around us, and start to feel more compassion.
The path itself has been our teacher, and when, further along, we turn around and momentarily look back, we appreciate how far we’ve come and how much we have come to understand.
I choose to see life’s challenges as both blessings and lessons.
I trust the path I’m on.
I embrace the opportunity to learn and grow.
©2016 by Eileen Campbell. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
About the Author
Eileen Campbell is a writer of inspirational books, including a successful series of anthologies described by the media as "treasures of timeless wisdom," which sold collectively around 250,000 copies. She has studied with a variety of teachers from different traditions and brings a wealth of knowledge and life experience to her books. She is known for her pioneering and visionary career as a self-help and spirituality publishers, and has also written and presented for BBC Radio 2 and 4. She currently devotes her energies to yoga, writing, and gardening. Visit her at www.eileencampbellbooks.com.