Grit. Part of the currency utilized to purchase adulthood.
Medium peep Santiago Marroquin left the above comment on a story I did for The Startup this morning, which spoke to my friend/mentor Harry’s sometimes horrific journey to where he is now, in his mid-seventies, living the life he had always dreamed.
In many ways, Harry’s exceedingly difficult journey is the stuff of motivational speeches, box office hits. But Harry’s just happy with life. Harry’s life is hardly suddenly easy these days. But that’s the whole point.
The reason I was so tickled with Santiago’s comment is this: in the line of spiritual study that I practice, which includes Buddhism (and the following is not drawn from that, please) but also another esoteric study, there is this fundamental notion: we have to pay for our perspectives.
For every step we take to rise, we have to pay.
For every way of seeing that gives us peace, we have to pay.
For every day we wake up a bit less burdened by our bullshit, we have to pay.
Payment comes with work. Sacred work. The kind of sacred work where you and I stop looking for others to blame for our misfortune.
The kind of sacred work where you and I pull ourselves up by the bootstraps (God helps those who help themselves, thank you) and get out of the sewage of hate, bitterness and vitriol.
The kind of sacred work that sees trouble as an opportunity, a gift, a way of developing the muscles of mindfulness, gratitude and grace.
IT’S HARD FUCKING WORK.
If it were easy, there would be no war. We wouldn’t need lawyers to talk to each other during a divorce. We wouldn’t need jails or boundaries or fences.
It’s the currency of Becoming. You want to evolve? You want to be a better person? You want to have some measure of Peace and Tranquility in your life?
You and I have to pay for it.
Put another way, I am never going to ask or expect to be “saved.” Puh-leeze. That work I have to do for myself, so long as I am human and have a body, gifted with free will. That’s my job. If I end up with a modicum of grace, that gets bestowed on me through hard. Fucking. Work. Humility. Effort.
Perspectives, what Marcel Proust referred to as “seeing with new eyes,” only comes after we have been tested, tried and not found wanting. Before that, we will indeed be found wanting. A million times over. If you and I keep at it, we will eventually begin to develop a new way of seeing.
Conditions haven’t changed. People are still assholes. We still suffer tornadoes and tomatoes thrown at us on the stage of life. We still fuck up and fail. Harry’s life is still hard in many ways.
What we eventually have in our internal banks is the ability to see all the same things through a very different set of eyes. Not take them personally. See all these challenges and troubles as not all about me. They never were. Never will be. It’s just life. How we learn to navigate Life with humor and joy despite what happens to every single one of us is a combination of grace and grit.
The early 20th Century Indian poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote,
Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain
but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield
but to my own strength.
Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved
but hope for the patience to win my freedom.
Grant that I may not be a coward,
feeling Your mercy in my success alone;
But let me find the grasp of Your hand in my failure.
I don’t want easy. I don’t want simple. I didn’t sign up for the escape clause.
I do not pray for ease. Life is my job. I pray for fortitude. I pray for Courage. I pray for more grit.
And the wisdom, should I ever possess it, to know what to do what is right when the moment comes.