Reflections on a Seesaw

“Maybe, maybe not” is a phrase I’ve carried with me since first reading Robert Fulghum’s Maybe Maybe Not: (Second Thoughts from a Secret Life). If memory serves, Fulghum focuses on the certainty that anything can happen. In maybe (and maybe not as well), lies the wonder of certainty.

Some 20 years later, I still do not disagree. After all, existence is ever-evolving, never given to any absolute except change. For me, certainty lies in change.

Maybe this is hair-splitting, maybe not.

It is only recently I realized that “maybe, maybe not” is my catchphrase for equanimity. I do not know when that happened but it did. There is an evenness of mind in the seesaw quality of “maybe, maybe not”—at least for me–an ongoing balancing act in meeting life’s experiences.Winds of Change 0214

As Pema Chodron says, “cultivating equanimity is a work in progress.” Indeed, it is. Yet, I find a kind of certainty in creating an environment of equanimity. If anything is certain, it is change; perhaps that is the permanence in impermanence.

Maybe impermanence is the heart of Fulghum’s belief in wonder for no thing ever stays and anything can happen. Maybe, maybe not.

Cultivating equanimity means we respond rather than react to the emotional and physical storms that make up the drama of our lives. If we meet the storms with an evenness of mind, we learn the nature of our pain.Storm Clouds 081913

To open one’s self to the fury of any storm—to sit in its eye–is to accept the promise of impermanence, the certainty of change. In acceptance comes the realization that one’s life changes forever. No storm is without its pain yet every storm has its eye.

I am reminded of the Buddha’s words, “I teach nothing but suffering and the end of suffering.” For me, equanimity provides the evenness of mind to accept that pain will always be part of the life experience. But I do not have to suffer. The choice is mine.

We suffer when we are becalmed, wrapped up in our pain, wearing it as our identity. In aversion, we also suffer, trying to outrun or outmaneuver the storm— we may actually do more than once — regardless, we will meet it again, may be different circumstances and perhaps when least expected.

In equanimity, we brave the storm, accepting it will forever change us. We sit in its eye, safe in knowing the storm state always passes, and in its aftermath, we rise once again, buoyed by the energy of existence.

With every storm, there are lands lost to us, yes, but if we sail with the current—an evenness of mind— there are so many new shores to explore, so many experiences yet to come. There is always another sea to sail.

And all the while there is the wonder of maybe, maybe not, a seesaw balancing act, certain to change.

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17 thoughts on “Reflections on a Seesaw

  1. I love this so much, and it found me at a seemingly perfect time.

    I’m finding more and more that accepting what is and allowing myself to feel any pain or discomfort opens up so much opportunity. This post is not only poetic and poignant, but affirming. Thanks, Karen!

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    1. I agree, August. If we simply immerse ourselves in the experience, ultimately view it as something worthy of exploring. At least, that’s what happens for me. So glad you found the post helpful. Means a lot.
      Karen

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never found it easy to remain steady nor am I brave but I have discovered a kind of comfort in keeping my mind as even as possible, come what may. At some point, of course, the balance tips yet I do seem to learn from the effort. Thanks, Ann!
      Karen

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  2. reminded me of a passage from A Course in Miracles: “let the truth be what it is. do not intrude upon it. do not attack it. do not interrupt its coming. …not even faith is asked of you, for truth asks nothing.”

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  3. Your beautiful spirit, insight and words, touched a place in me that sorely needed it today. I think you may have just shown us the key to resilience and healing from emotional loss. Your hard-won lessons change lives, Karen. We are grateful.

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    1. Ah, thanks so much, Leigh. As I mentioned to Kay, sitting in the eye of the storm provides such perspective. I hadn’t thought of it as resilience but I think you are quite right. And once we find the energy, we begin healing. Each time we sit, we become more familiar with impermanence. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Much appreciated.
      Karen

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  4. I find that the older I get (and the more likely to find myself in one of those storms of change) the more curious I become. As bad as the bad parts can be they are life at full-throttle, and there is something fascinating about those times I cannot control. Life, the wild animal.

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    1. Yes, Adrian, life at full-throttle. I like that for there is no taming or controlling nor should there be. And staying curious maintains the fascination, at least for me. Always appreciated, Adrian.
      Karen

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  5. Your post rings so true. The hardest part, I find, is not to identify with our pain. Being in the eye of the storm, instead of mixing and mingling with the it and getting torn apart by its fierce forces. Your post reminded me of one of my favorite quotes about the certainty of change. I thought you might like it, if you don’t already know it:

    “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”

    ‘Delicious Ambiguity’ by Gilda Radner

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    1. Thanks so much for that Gilda Radner quote! I did not know it. And you’re right about finding it difficult to identify with our pain. I did that for years; it is so confining. In accepting the certainty of change, sitting in its eye, we can actually benefit from that storm, although it may not be immediately apparent. 😉 I really appreciate your thoughtful comment.
      Karen

      Liked by 1 person

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