I had a conversation with an old friend recently, a man I had worked with years ago. Let’s call him Ed, because, well, that’s his name. We were catching up on the phone and I was filling him in on my book, Tao Flashes, and some of the spiritual and inspirational work I am reading and also creating myself.
I invited him to check out my web site and was surprised when he declined. In his typical
blunt straight-forward fashion, he told me he didn’t believe in self help and motivational work. He said he thinks that we all need to figure it out ourselves, and shared his belief that learning comes from living.
I argued with him. But not much. Because somehow, in spite of myself, in spite of the countless hours I have devoted to spiritual and inspirational reading and writing, I heard an echo of truth in his words.
And it got me to thinking. What if we’re both right?
I agree, learning comes from living. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than having your arse handed to you now and again to get clear on your values. LIFE is a great teacher because she’s going to spank you good at some point and make you run home to Moma. And if we’re good students, we’ll grow stronger by battling the weaknesses LIFE introduces us to within ourselves, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll figure out how to turn hay into gold.
Everything we say yes or no to helps to define us, for better or worse, and we only learn as we go, or as my friend would say, learn as we live. Maybe it is in the falling down, and then getting up, that we learn to trust ourselves or at the very least, avoid the things that make us slip.
But what if we used our life stories to guide or inspire others, what if we used our experiences to make someone else’s journey just a little easier? What if we used our hurts, our hard-earned wisdom, our healing, to help others?
I for one am happy to have others, especially spiritual teachers and motivational writers, illuminate the darkness with words, light, roadmaps, and other tools to make my life’s journey a bit easier.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for the hard-knocks lessons that came a knock’in on my front door….those that rattled the windows and shook my foundation, too. After all, they helped to shape and inspire me.
But I am especially grateful that during dark times, my spirit led me to teachers who offered healing balms of all sorts. From many, I learned forgiveness of self and others. I learned meditation and tools to strengthen my intuition and psyche. I learned ancient philosophies like Taoism and healing modalities of all kinds.
And in being inspired by others, I developed the confidence to share my stories and my guidance to help others.
I learned by living and by doing, like my friend Ed said. But without a doubt, my journey has been made richer, lighter and infinitely more valuable, with the guidance of others.
Experience is a teacher. But how we master those lessons, how we integrate them into our being so we don’t keep repeating them, is the hardest part of our journey, in my book. And for that, I am grateful to have teachers with tools to clear a path for me. Maybe even leave behind a few road markers. Because I’d be lost without them.
What about you? Do you believe in the school of hard knocks, or do you appreciate motivational work and self-help tools and books?