“Life batters us. It does. We find out that we’ve lost our job…or someone we love. We find out that some ruling has come down against us or that a bad review has been written. We fall and hurt ourselves. We get a diagnosis. We are mistreated or attacked.
We get hit. Hard.
But there is a beautiful metaphor in a Rilke poem we can take heart in. ‘Let this darkness be a bell tower,’ he writes, ‘and you the bell. As you ring, what batters you becomes your strength. Move back and forth into the change.’
Instead of seeing ourselves as the victims, we can turn around what happens to us. By turning ourselves into the bell, we make music out of the hits we take. That’s what the Stoics meant when they talked about how the obstacle is the way. That’s what Marcus Aurelius meant when he talked about how a fire turns everything into heat and brightness. We absorb the energy and use it. We are rattled, sure, but we make something of that rattle—something that can help or inform or be enjoyed by others.”– Ryan Holiday, Daily Stoic 2/17/22
From the master Stoic, Ryan, himself. I’m learning this, painfully at first, one step then the next. I always saw myself as this person that was so resilient, able to overcome, maybe even to a certain degree fire proof. But, was I really? My current challenges aside, is this the fire that will make me great? I needed to learn that I wasn’t in order to move forward, to grow even more.
When I get myself in front of that perspective as I move forward into the fire, things click more. Pieces begin to fit together in this new puzzle I am putting together. A shape starts to form, an edge connects with another, a corner that helps me get the outline together. My puzzle is coming together like I always wanted it to look from the box’s cover. You know, the one you stand up the edge, try to cheat off of, get a leg up on the build? That’s the big picture. Then I can’t find a piece I need next. It starts all over.
Just me thinking out loud today. Thanks to Holiday for the shove. We are a puzzle. A complicated one.