When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.
-Viktor E. Frankl
As I look back over years of my life I now recognize many of those years being based on productivity rather than meaning. Control rather than acceptance. I seemed to be in some kind of hurry. Possibly to change something, though for the life of me I could not tell you what that something was. This does not surprise me. Not even a little. I know and now understand just how, to put it mildly, altered my way of thinking was for many years. Today this seems completely out of character for me. This is easily recognized in hindsight, as most things are. I can not allow myself to lament or even get upset with what seems to be years of missing out, It would not change the past.
I have written of some of the years of personal struggle and touched upon how these things have now given depth to my life as they do for anyone who has had long periods of personal angst. Struggles are part of life. A necessary and vital part of life. This never seems to be the case when struggles are present and beating us down.
There is a well known saying; “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” This seems to be true but omits the true nature of what actually makes you stronger. There is no question that it can also be said, what doesn’t kill you can make you weaker. At some point, you will be at your weakest during times of tremendous struggle. At some point, you will want to give up and simply accept that your reality will never be more than it is at that weakest time. So how does this translate into making you stronger? The answer, as it is with any struggle is to not give up, not except that the weakness you are experiencing is set in stone and will be how the remainder of your life will be. It is the willingness to fight, to overcome, to continue, and to know with every ounce of your being, you and only you have the ability to change it.
Your Surroundings Are Your Life
During the formation of life on this planet, the struggles were simply overwhelming. Yet life found a way. At some point, we appeared. Humans struggle not for the sake of struggling, but to bring about change. Change to oneself, to their surroundings, to others. As I see things, struggle and knowledge go hand in hand.
Today it would go without saying knowledge seems to be the driving force of our existence. How much of our knowledge, our present day ‘thinking” revolves around the benefit of man vs the benefit of our surroundings? Albert Einstein once stated; “The environment is everything that is not me”. How many of today’s “great thinkers” have the capacity to understand the relationship between man and man’s surroundings?
If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.
-E. O. Wilson
When looking back over the brief years of our lives, do we recognize the role our surroundings have played? Do we understand that most times we chose our surroundings? Even create our surroundings. There is a direct relationship between the choices we make and the results we ultimately live with. Are your surroundings the way you would like them to be? Do you actively engage in “everything that is not you?” In this day and age of self-gratification many times at any cost, what do we expect the results to be?
In our personal lives, as it is in nature, we must not become blinded by the high speeds in which the race is run. We must not become caught in the vicious cycle of trying to reach the next level without fully understanding what we are giving up in our present situation. This requires a thoughtful approach. Careful and deliberate considerations. When it comes to our surroundings, we must tread lightly. This is not to say we must be passive or ambivalent to what is happening. It is to say, we must care and approach our surroundings with knowledge and understanding.
Are you completely oblivious to your surroundings, too caught up in what you’re doing to just be? Sadly, for many of us, the latter is true. We don’t pause to appreciate where we are and the beauty around us. Let this be your warning: Your surroundings matter. More than you know. So pay attention. You may not get another chance to notice them.
Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.