In “Man’s Search For Meaning” Victor Frankl tells us that we can’t choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we react to them. Most of us never have to face the evils of a concentration camp as he did, but each of us will endure pain, grief, and eventually death.
We all know that life can be hard. We have sleepless nights, with pain that has no explanation (or a thousand explanations, none of them good). We lose the people we love, or watch them suffering. We want life to be good for our children, and hate to see them face difficulties. But each of us has to find our own way through.
We see life as good, or bad. We think that we can make these judgements, but we don’t have the proper context: when the hawk swoops down and carries away a mouse, life is very bad for the mouse, but good for the hawk. Sometimes we are the mouse, sometimes the hawk. Life’s pendulum swings back and forth.
“I am the lion-tamer locked in a cage
With lions leaping through hoops of flame,
I am the lion with bared teeth,
Breaking through the paper hoop.”
When we pass through the paper hoop we are moving from illusion to reality. We are in control of the narrative. We can choose to be constantly weighed down by pain and grief or we can choose to listen, to study, to breathe.