By Rebecca Lammersen
“One of the hardest decisions you will ever face in life, is choosing whether to try harder or walk away.”
Try harder or walk away—this is the only choice we make in every moment of life. We either try harder or we walk away from being present, loving ourselves, loving another, pursuing our passions or completing a task. We choose to continue doing, thinking, saying, listening, eating and being what we are, or we break up with it.
There is only one way to do everything, completely or not at all. If we half-ass life, we cheat our truth, stop growing, we suffer.
Imagine if an architect half-assed plans for a building, or an aerospace engineer half-assed the construction of an airplane. The building couldn’t stand on its own and the plane couldn’t fly. We are the architects of our lives. We have to devote entirely to our project or walk away from the drawing pad until we are willing to do the work.
The choice to stay or leave, determines whether we free ourselves or we suffer. How do we make the “right” decision?
We learn how to discern between the doubt of the mind and the surety of the spirit.
The discernment is in the volume. The mind is loud and the spirit is quiet. We have become accustomed to listening to the loud voice, because it takes no effort. It takes practice to hear the quietest voice, and discipline to listen to her. Once we listen, the real work begins, the challenge—we are required to act courageously, as we brace ourselves for the whippings of sadness, longing and unease. Our freedom is dependent on courage. Courage is conceived through faith. We have courage because our faith whispers that peace exists, even if we can’t see her.
Peace carries freedom as a gift. Freedom is presented when we entrust in our choice, and endure the feelings and conditions that hitch a ride with the strength of our spirit. If we remain indecisive, we live in stagnation, in the land of half asses.
Right now, I am struggling. I have my ear cupped to the jailed door of my spirit. I can decipher the words, but I’m scared. I’m scared to unlock the door and face her as she looks me in the eyes and tells me exactly what I already know. I don’t want to listen, because I know there lies an uncertainty, what’s next?
Predictability is my pal, but she is also my captor and torturer. She is the accomplice of my mind. She feeds me my meals, allows me to bathe. She may even crack a smile, but the reality is she has locked me up, pinned me against the door, knife in hand. I remember being here before, feeling this piercing pain as my mind stabs my spirit. My spirit is fighting back, grasping for the knife, pleading for her life, holding her wound and begging for mind to leave.
Life is one struggle after the next, a battery of choices every day, “Do I stay or do I leave?” We liberate ourselves when we understand our emancipation is granted when we abide by one commandment: Thou shall not struggle against struggle.
It’s simple, but it’s not easy: Do not make more struggle. We are released from bondage when we know, regardless if we stay or go, we have the choice to stay or go. We are in charge of our own suffering. We can walk away from it when we wish.
Struggle is the wrinkle of life. We can not escape it, but we can honor it, see it as part of us, as our counterpart and coexist. Peace is acceptance of struggle. How do we create peace? We don’t create more struggle, we acknowledge we will struggle.
How do we not make more struggle? We listen. We listen to the quiet voice, we tune out the loud one, we grab the knife and crawl out the door. We patch up the wound and devote to our recovery as exhausting and painful as it may be.
I have the ability to nurture my wounds, heal from them and become stronger and healthier than before.
How do I know I will be stronger than before?
Because I’ve freed myself more times than I can count. Life is a series of imprisonments that deliver us to our next liberation. Experience and practice is our liberator. If we choose to learn from our experiences of struggle and only listen for the quiet voice, the duration of our imprisonments shorten and our liberation lengthens.
I’m not free right now. I’m in the knife fight. I’m still deciding. As I struggle with struggle, I know I can make the easy decision or I can make the decision that will challenge me, that will help me grow.
The choice to follow the voice of our spirit takes effort, determination and tenacity. It is easy to be defeated, to be a coward and listen to our mind. Honoring our spirit takes time, patience, faith and trust.
Struggle is indestructible and inevitable. Our response to it dictates our quality of life. The bouts of suffering will lessen as we learn how to win the battle, how swiftly to grab the knife, unlock the bars and walk through the gates to peace as we hold hands with struggle.
I may be imprisoned right now, but I’ve learned from my experience. I’ll be free soon, I just have to stop half-assing it and answer the question, “Do I try harder or do I walk away?”
I have a theory from my own experience that there are two voices in me. They seem to argue and not agree. The weak voice I believe is insecurity, created by negative interactions with my parents when I was very young.
The strong is my real voice, who I really am and want to be. The weak negative voice from the
parental interaction says I am inadequate, weak, a failure and generally no good and that my life of working as a bellman is a failure since I have not achieved fame or made a lot of money with the music. My 7000 pages of classical piano music are worthless and I am failure since now at 70 I have some financial problems.
The other voice, the real me, without attitudes from my parents, says, I succeeded because I have my musical scores all written down, and many artists did not earn very much money.
I went to a psychiatrist for many years and use the techniques I learned to essentially destroy the weak, negative, critical voice with the stronger voice allowing me to get rid of the negative attitudes from my childhood experience. Nature, sea kayaking hiking, gardening, my music and the arts are who I am. Anger fear and doubt and unclear thinking are caused by the tension between the two. The strong voice has to prevail to create strength and unity.
My formula is: Find the fear caused by the weakness
Become angry at the cause, in this case my parents. They were good people and meant no harm, they were insecure. Understand the cause.
Overcome fear and find my own life by action knowing there will be mistakes.
Your struggle to find a better life will work. Do not give up.