Be it resolved, I will learn to welcome – and to learn from — unwelcome things in my life, realizing that they may be in my life to give me life, rather than to take it from me.
Have you made your list yet? Now that Santa has brought you all the things you wanted at Christmas, the typical New Year’s resolution list lists things you want rid of: extra pounds, the deadbeat boyfriend, a dead-end job, crippling debt, spiders in the pantry, fear of the dark and clothes that are too big for you now (you’ll keep the ones that are too small for you, won’t you?).
Sometimes the things you think you need to dispose of are just the things you may need in order to grow as a person. What you take for poison could be antidote to your already toxic condition.
I like sentences. One of my new favorites is from Robert Morris: “Every weed is a plant that just hasn’t found a human use, and therefore suffers under a pejorative label.”
The curative jewelweed, for instance, can often be found growing right next to poison ivy – the remedy right next to the affliction! Nature uses everything and wastes nothing. The delicate ecology of creation cautions care with every living thing. Chase off garden snakes and rodents overrun your rhododendron. Spread on the herbicides too thick and pollute the ground water.
We don’t like to embrace things we don’t like. We would rather rid ourselves of them than ask what positive purpose they may serve.
If carrying excess weight weighs you down emotionally, at least ask – while you are climbing the Stairmaster trying to shed stowed baggage – why those pounds carry such weight with you. Physical heaviness need not rob your life of its proper lightness.
Pain of any kind warns that something else is wrong besides the pain. If you focus on easing the pain, you might neglect the thing it wants you most to know and to fix.
Life-threatening cancer may awaken you to the preciousness of life each new day that you were missing before the diagnosis. An unplanned pregnancy might open you to a world of childlike wonder. A chronically cranky colleague could enlarge your capacity for tolerance – even of yourself!
Before you weed out every last unwelcome thing in your life this New Year, re-label it welcome, first. Learn to live with it around for a while, unpejoratively. Then see how your garden grows.