Accepting is Loving

Most of my life I’ve been working to make the world around me better. I would find problems, or at least declare that something is a problem, and I would try to fix it. I’m learning that a different strategy is needed to make the world a better place to live. By seeking out problems to fix, I’m automatically framing the world as having faults. I’m creating problems, having aversion to them, and finally craving their resolution. While objects outside of our bodies have moved around and put together in a new formation, nothing has changed inside the people involved. I’m trying to do a good thing, and I think I am, but the reality might be that nothing has changed or I’ve actually made things worse.

The problems people face in their lives are complicated and rarely is the solution as simple is constructing a new community center or providing some medical supply. The better strategy is to start accepting people and situations for what they are. Appreciate the complexity of the challenges in our lives. Be present with these challenges and love them. That’s actually a very simple solution but it’s so difficult to do. We don’t like observing pain and suffering, but by simply being present with it, we’re able to help it heal.

We’re drawn to a desire to fix things because observing suffering is uncomfortable.  Creating a plan to fix things is actually a form of escaping it. I’m not saying that we should avoid improving infrastructure or providing people with new opportunities, but the only way these actions are helpful is if the people we’re trying to help are a part of the process. If we are comfortable and present with someone who is suffering, this will make it easier for this person to be with themselves. Once they are comfortable with themselves they can try to explain what would help them heal. I think this is what it means to love someone. Time to meditate.

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About Ryan Shelton

While I'm currently married to a beautiful woman while teaching physics at Padua Academy, these descriptors fail to capture the totality of my adventurous life. I have hiked over 1700 miles, traveled to 5 continents, managed a bakery, started a meditation center, counseled troubled teens, attended Duke, UNC, and Harvard, protected forests as a wildland firefighter, volunteered thousands of hours with Americorps, rafted the Grand Canyon, SCUBA dived on the Great Barrier Reef, and continues to find new adventures. I hope my writing encourages you to pursue your dreams and be the best version of yourself while supporting your communities to work together to solve the current challenges in our world.

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