Easy. Ease. It such an easy word to say. And we say it often. I just want ‘it’ to be easy. I just want to fall into ease. I love to use this word. Just let it be easy is one of my mantras. But I’m beginning to think that maybe easy is just another Four Letter Word. In training to be a life coach we read Pema Chödrön’s When Things Fall Apart. I did not like this book. I wanted to like it. I thought it would make me more enlightened, intellectual, maybe even accepted (not entirely sure by who) if I could like this book. But in reality I found it kind of depressing. She talks about giving up hope like its a good thing. Chödrön writes:
Giving up hope is encouragement to stick with yourself, to make friends with yourself, to not run away from yourself, to return to the bare bones, no matter what’s going on. … But if we totally experience hopelessness, giving up all hope of alternatives to the present moment, we can have a joyful relationship with our lives, an honest, direct relationship, one that no longer ignores the reality of impermanence and death.
This is so contradictory to everything we know! We have to hope and dream and wish for a better future. Cling to the hope of something better.
But in some ways I get it what Chödrön is saying here. If we really examine it, Hope can be so damn depressing. In hard times we cling to it like its all we have left. Hope and even more so Ease gets tossed around with high ideals and sparkly unicorns. In the end it can be so very crushing when you hope for something and it doesn’t turn out. Or it does and it’s just not what you expected.
It is in this way that ease and hope are alike. When I say I want it to be easy I am really saying I hope I can do this or even I don’t know if I can do this.
When my daughter doesn’t want to put on her clothes and I complain Why can’t this just be easy I am really feeling I hope I can be patient, why can’t I just be a good parent.
When I wish that starting a new business or launching a new idea could just be easy what I really mean is I hope I can do this, I hope I don’t fail and disappoint everyone. In this way easy and hope are really a form of despair.
When Chödrön says “Giving up hope is encouragement to stick with yourself” it really means you are good enough right where you are. Isn’t that so much harder to accept then taking the easy route and hoping that you can do better at a future time. In releasing the ideas of hope and easy, we accept that our only existence is in this very moment.
In this very moment I am exasperated – and that’s okay. In this very moment I am insecure and vulnerable – and that’s okay.
Chödrön rejects hope because hope and easy are ways in which we ignore the essence of ourselves. Hope becomes the opposite of joy. When we are hoping for a new future or lamenting how hard things are, we are choosing to reject this moment and label it as unworthy. We miss out on the joy that the current moment could bring because we are caught up in a moment that does not exist. In that way we not also labeling ourselves unworthy of joy – the very thing we want the most?
So what can you do instead? Give up on hope?
Is it possible to be in joy and still want for something better?
The honest answer is no. Going back to Chodron: Without giving up hope – that there is someone better to be that there’s someone better to be – we will never relax with where we are or who we are. (emphasis added)
There is no sign that says you’ve arrived at hope now you can be happy. Hope and ease are really just fear in disguise. You cannot have one without the other. Think about it. Have you ever hoped for something that didn’t also have some negative consequence to it? It’s saying that this is too hard and instead of just being in it I am going to ignore it and live in a moment that doesn’t exist.
So what do you do?
Feel it. Give in to whatever situation you are in and let it be your existence right now. The best thing about doing that is that existence is impermanent. As soon as you are aware of a moment its already the past. You cant go back to it and suddenly you are in the next moment. In accepting that moment you are able to “relax into the groundlessness” and step into courage.
Let go of the fear/hope and step into a new kind of relationship with yourself. It definitely will not be easy but it could be something amazing.