Life put us through a hellish experience earlier this year.
My wife, our baby boy and I were all pretty seriously ill.
All three at the same time.
In hindsight I’m grateful for the experience.
Obviously I didn’t feel that way at the time. All I wanted was for it to pass. Thoughts of gratitude fleetingly passed through my delirious mind once or twice, but it was only when I started recovering that I realized what exactly I was grateful for.
The experience helped me better understand my resentments and why I really needed to let them go.
Because, for the first time, I experienced my baby boy going through intense suffering. And the thing that really struck me about his suffering was this: From his perspective, it was obviously completely incomprehensible.
As adults we understand what it is. It’s an illness and eventually it’ll pass. But off course a baby (or a young child for that matter) doesn’t understand that.
This might not seem like much of an insight, but think about the implications.
The illness wrought havoc on our sinuses and at its height we had to administer some nasal spray, to help our boy breathe. He hadn’t slept properly in days, because he couldn’t breathe lying down, and a lack of sleep exacerbated the problem.
But the nasal spray burnt like hell. So off course he fought against it.
He used all the strength his exhausted little body could muster and he flexed his tiny muscles as hard as he could, to try and push us away from him.
So we had to force it in.
He hasn’t really started talking yet, only a few words here and there. And in his fearful desperation, all he said was: “OK, OK” in a faintly terrified little voice, barely discernible through the tears and snot.
I held and restrained him while my wife sprayed the salty solution into his nose and I could feel his entire body struggling against my grip.
Holding onto him through that experience triggered something in me. I cried. And I remembered having had similar experiences as a young child.
Experiences of incomprehensible suffering.
And I realized in that moment that it was, at least partially, as a result of those experiences that I carry resentment within me today.
I built up resentment based upon those experiences that caused me pain and suffering while I was incapable of understanding what was happening.
And today I resent many things as a result of that.
I resent authority figures of all sorts and I often even resent life in general.
I resent traffic cops for issuing pointless traffic fines, I resent the previous generation for not being better human beings, I resent large corporations for cutting corners, manufacturing faulty products and making huge profits at the same time.
And I resent those closest to me for their mistakes.
And, while I was beginning to wonder whether I would ever recover, lying alone night after night, wide awake at the most ungodly hours, unable to sleep through the coughing fits, swollen throat and burning nose… I understood that THIS is why I could not yet let go, and trust in the process of Life.
I believe in Life as a higher power. Some people call this power ‘God’, I call it Life, the universe or simply everything there is.
Life is a power greater than I am. And Life has a plan for itself. Whether Life is actually aware of that plan unfolding or not, who knows, but I choose to believe that there is a plan. Because I have found that trust in Life is the answer to the question of finding peace and happiness.
In my personal experience, it’s in those moments when I trust in Life, when I trust that Life knows what it’s doing, that’s when I feel most at peace. And that’s when I experience happiness as a constant inner state of being, as opposed to a momentary experience triggered by happenstance.
But I struggle to maintain that trust for long and extended periods of time.
And what I realized as I looked down at my struggling and suffering baby boy, mumbling “Ok, Ok” in terrified desperation, is this: I struggle to maintain trust in Life precisely because I harbour so many resentments.
I have resentments hidden around every corner: “This is not what I want, this does not serve my needs or desires, so it shouldn’t be this way.”
The experience I shared with my baby boy revealed what may have been the root cause of my resentments: Instances where life forced me into situations of suffering without providing an explanation as to why this needed to be endured.
But, more importantly, what it also revealed was that, just as my baby boy may not have understood why a burning salty liquid needed to be sprayed into his nose, I also still don’t understand the reason for many of my experiences.
And yet, there was a very good reason.
And it’s the resentments I carry that prevent me from accepting this.
Resentments are an outright denial of Life’s higher power.
How can I trust Life, but at the same time hold on to the anger caused by that inexplicable experience of suffering I endured all those years ago?
I might not understand why it happened, but there’s a reason for it regardless.
I was young and defenseless, I had my head banged against a wall and the perpetrator was the one person whom I should have been able to trust.
But there’s a reason for it happening. That’s what I choose to believe.
I may have been hurt. I may have been harmed. I may even have been abused, but if it happened there’s a reason for it. It’s part of life’s plan. However incomprehensible it may seem. And whether this claim is true or not is largely besides the point. What matters more is that choosing to believe this, that’s what brings inner peace, for me.
The world isn’t a perfect place. Everyone suffers. Life will never align itself with anything other than itself.
To allow resentment to fester within me is nothing less than expecting Life, the universe and everything there is, to align itself with me.
Which is rather arrogant.
I may have the strongest will in existence and I may use it more cunningly than anyone else, eventually I will clash with Life’s unraveling, and whether I believe that it’s planned or not, that doesn’t matter, because it won’t go my way.
Life will prevail over me. And I will suffer if I expect anything else.
The universe, life and everything there is, does not owe its existence to me.
I owe my existence to it.
The only way to really live is to align myself with Life.