Find the teaching in the chaos

Reposting something i bumped into on facebook that is so absolutely true.


Dear Ones –

Last night I watched the harrowing documentary AMY, about the life and tragic death of Amy Winehouse. It’s a brilliant film, but it was difficult for me to go to sleep after seeing it. It’s hard not to imagine all the other directions Amy’s life could have taken. If only she could have held on through the chaos of her youth, and somehow come out on the other side — wiser and calmer and having shed all the self-hatred and self-destruction.

If only she could have survived herself long enough to become herself.

I was so struck by this line that the (apparently immortal) Tony Bennett said at the end of the documentary, about what he wished he could have told Amy. The full quote is: “Slow down. You’re too important. Life teaches you how to live it, if you live long enough.”

This reminded me of what Iyanla Vanzant always says — that life is her friend, and that all it’s trying to do is teach her how to live. Like a good friend, life sometimes tells you things you don’t want to hear about yourself — but that’s OK. It’s all being offered with love. Tough love, sometimes – but love. As Iyanla always says, “You might have to repeat third grade six or seven times, before you learn what you needed to learn to advance — but once you learn the lessons, life will let you move on.”

Life never lets you move on, until you have learned what it is trying to teach you.

Like a good friend, life keeps trying to show you the way — keeps trying to show what isn’t working for you and what behaviors need to stop. When you keep banging your head up against the same destructive scenarios, life will patiently keeping showing you the painful consequences — until you get it. Life will teach you the same lesson time after time after time, until you finally start to learn. Life will try to teach you what kind of people are bad for you, and what kind of situations makes you sick and weak, what kind of substances are a no-fly-zone for you, and what kind of existence brings you into bloom. Life will try to show you what was never meant to be yours, and life will try — by any means necessary — to teach you how to look for something else, when it’s time to change.

As we get older, there’s a trust that grows within us about life — that something out there is trying to teach us SOMETHING.

I was never as self-destructive as Amy Winehouse in my youth, but I certainly spent many, many years doing things to myself that were terribly bad for me. Like many of us, the only way I could ever learn where the boundaries were was to run about 10 miles past them. Only later, looking back over my shoulder — exhausted, ashamed, hurt, and defeated — could I see: “Oh! So I guess THAT was the boundary, then? About 10 miles back?”

I had to repeat these destructive behaviors dozens — sometimes hundreds — of times before I got the picture.

It was painful, but apparently that’s the only way I could learn.

My pain was just life trying to show me what doesn’t work for me.

My heart breaks for all those restless souls who could not live long enough to let life teach them how to live it. And to all who are confused and lost and in pain right now, my prayer is that you will learn how to listen with trust and respect and love to what your life is trying to teach you. Your life is your friend. It’s trying to help you.

Slow down.

You’re too important.

Find the teaching hidden in the chaos.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s