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A Perfect World

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Portuguese version

Over many years, I became numb to how yoga teachers in New York often start a class. The words that became all too common were, “this is a difficult time”.

Within a few years, I started to wonder if this was a ‘boy who cried wolf’ situation, where every moment seemed to be difficult. While there are no doubt difficult moments, every moment cannot in fact be difficult. However, perhaps every moment felt difficult, which peaks my curiosity to understand why.

I imagine that 20 years ago or 200 years ago, my parents or ancestors also felt that it was also a difficult moment. I cannot imagine that it was all sunshine and rainbows for them, all the time, yet for us now, it is not.

This leads me to believe that it has always felt like a difficult moment, and might always feel like it is a difficult moment.

When I pause to reflect on this, it can feel very relieving. I no longer have to try so hard. I can stop trying to change the world. I can stop trying to change those around me. I can stop trying to change myself.

Change comes in two varieties, I have learned. One variety is effortful, and the other is effortless. It is like trying to bend a thin branch of a tree. If I bend it a little, it will have room to give. If I bend it too much, it will break.

The world will keep changing. Those around me will keep changing. I will keep changing. However, I do not need to force any of it. It is in my nature to change.

I do not believe that we are on some path to a perfect world. I believe we are already there.

There are no doubt inequities, injustices, and insecurities. Today they are of a specific variety, tomorrow they will be of a different variety.

For years, I had been telling myself a story that things will be better at some future moment. I was the boy who cried wolf. Always telling myself, ‘just need to get through this’, or ‘once this is done, then things will be better’. This applied in business, in health, in relationships, in how I perceived the world around me.

I realize now that I had been only fooling myself with this all too familiar story, that this is an especially difficult moment that I find myself in.

It is a question of the relative versus the absolute. In absolute terms, it may feel difficult. However, relative to what I am capable of, or relative to the capacity I have, or relative to my nature, this might actually be the norm.

This moment feels more difficult than what? Then the past moments? Well not really, as I have already acknowledged that previous moments felt difficult at the time.

This moment feels more difficult than what I expect? There I have it. This moment feels difficult relative to what I expect. And if I feel it is always a difficult moment, it is clear that I need to change my expectations. Much easier to change my expectations than to try and change reality. Trying to change reality is like bending the tree branch with too much effort.

I do not believe that it can always be a difficult moment. And it is unhealthy to always tell myself a story that things will be better in the future. What if they will not? What if this is as good as it gets?

With this understanding that this is as good as it gets, I start to pay attention to what is real. I stop focusing on some fantasy created in my mind. When I am connected to reality, I begin to accept it. When I accept reality, as it is and not as I wish it to be, my heart is flooded with gratitude. A gentle smile appears naturally on my face.

This is how I try to deal with difficulty.

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