For Kyle Maynard, life is good. You see, Kyle began to realize his greatness from a really early age. By the age of 26, he had been a champion wrestler in high school, having won 36 varsity wrestling matches during his senior year alone. He fought and lasted a full three round MMA fight and climbed the nearly 20,000 foot Mount Kilimanjaro.
While we’re on the subject, I feel that it’s important to note that Kyle Maynard is only 3 feet, 8 inches tall and due to a birth defect, was born with no arms or legs. When Kyle first began wrestling in high school, people laughed. They told him he’d never be able to do it. Some even refused to get onto the mat with him. They’d look at Kyle and only see a small guy with no arms or legs. What they didn’t see, was the fire that burned within him. That passion, that desire. So yeah, life was and still is indeed good for Kyle Maynard.
Most of us have heard the proclamation of, “life is good”. In fact, I believe there is a brand of clothing that uses the “Life is good” slogan, serving as a visible reminder that life is indeed good (who doesn’t like an amazingly soft article of clothing?).
When exactly however, do we find life to be good? Is it when things are going exactly the way we desire them to go? Is it when we’ve won the lottery or been handed that big promotion we’ve worked so hard for? Is it when we finally drive that new, much coveted sports car off the lot? What about the instances when life doesn’t seem to be going so well? What about when that lump turns out to be cancerous or we just found out we’ve been laid off from a job? Can we use the “life is good” slogan during those times and others like them?
First, I want to note that I’m not attempting to diminish anyone’s pain. I’m not here to say that a cancer diagnosis, job loss or anything else that makes us feel pain doesn’t just flat out suck. I’m not going to say that it’s not okay to feel pain or sadness because it is but, does it mean that life is not good? Does that mean that we are somehow destined to live a life of pure misery from that painful moment forward, perhaps perpetually changing the slogan to “Life is terrible”?
I’ve also heard the term, “God is good” when things are going peachy but, does it mean that God isn’t good when things go haywire? So tell me, are you beginning to see the logic here?
You see, life, in its own twisted way, forces us to learn. It’s almost like walking into school on the first day, only to find that your English teacher has decided to assign everyone’s seating. Sure enough, you find that you just happen to have been assigned a desk in the front row, directly in front of the lecture podium. As class goes on, you find that your teacher calls on you if your attention wanders even the smallest iota. You quickly find that she’s almost forcing you to learn everything that she’s teaching.
Too often, we find ourselves in the midst of a painful experience and begin to wonder just where it was we must have gone wrong but, allow me challenge you with a question. Would we truly learn if life was always blissful? While my parents certainly warned me to not place my hand on a hot stove, I also learned through the “School of Hard Knocks”. For some reason, a curiosity remained. They told me I’d likely experience pain but, the brilliant orange of the burner was just too much to resist. How could something that radiant cause pain? Yeah, you can guess what I did. Next thing I knew, I was running through the house in tears. Do you think I ever touched it again? You get the gist.
While this example may not equate to a pain that may seem insurmountable in the moment, it is precisely when things seem the most challenging that we are being called to pay attention. What is there to learn within that moment? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that it is always going to be easy because it won’t be. There will be times when you’ll wonder where you must have strayed off the path. There will be times where you feel like giving up or as if things will never get better.
This is where nonresistance enters the picture. Nonresistance will begin to provide you what you need to move through it, rather than around it, therefore avoiding it.
Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now said, “Whatever you fight, you strengthen.” We can certainly choose to resist whatever it is that’s painful in our lives. We can certainly choose to move around it at any time but, it may very likely reappear within our lives again at a later date. Placing medication all around a wound isn’t likely to heal that wound. Placing the medication directly on it, no matter how much it burns, will.
So how exactly do we practice nonresistance, especially when something feels almost overwhelmingly painful? The first step is to remain calm and to just breathe. I know that sometimes the pain can feel very overwhelming. It can give you that “catch” in your breath, making it feel as if even the mere act of breathing is almost impossible.
Imagine sitting in traffic if you will. Now, imagine sitting in traffic when you are already running late for an important appointment. You can yell at the car in front of you, you can curse at the driver sitting next to you or, you can simply remain calm and breathe. You have the choice within that moment to practice nonresistance. You see, resisting the traffic isn’t likely to change the fact that you are sitting within it. Once you begin to breathe and to remain calm however, you may even begin to notice things you may not have not otherwise noticed. Maybe you would have missed that great new restaurant you’re sitting in front of or a smile from the person in the car next to you.
So now it’s time I throw down the gauntlet. This is my challenge to you. Next time you find yourself thinking that maybe no, life’s not so good, stop whatever it is you are doing and close your eyes (Please do this exercise with your eyes open if you are sitting in traffic!).
Take two to three deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Once you feel your body begin to relax, start to count each breathe. Do this for as long as it takes until you begin to experience a calmness within; a calmness that moves through you both in mind and body. I dare you to take this challenge a step further and to practice using it each and every time you are feeling resistance in your life or as if life just isn’t good. It doesn’t matter if you do this once or a thousand times a day, do it as much as you need to.
No, it doesn’t mean that you won’t feel pain but it may provide you with that first step into moving through it, and into practicing nonresistance. It may be the start of placing you back onto the path of once again looking into the mirror and announcing that yes, life is good.