The iPhone predicament & the human predicament.
After years of waiting to upgrade my older iPhone, it was only two months before I dropped it, leaving the phone with a cracked screen. Naturally, I have looked into getting a more protective case, yet I did not want one that was so obtrusive that it inhibited access to my phone. More protection, less access. More access, less protection. This somewhat insignificant predicament found me reflecting on the significance of our human predicament.
In life, there are times when we experience some nature of injury or pain, be it physical, emotional or psychological. Often we have a natural response to protect ourselves so that we don’t have to re-experience similar pain while the wounds are still raw and healing. While we may use bandaids for physical injury, we create almost superhero-like, invisible armoring for those we carry in the heart and mind. In my experience, sometimes these protections outlast the benefits they offer.
While barriers can shield us, to some degree, from further discomfort and hurt, the same barriers, often unintentionally, shield us from fully experiencing the opposites of comfort and love. We cannot have it both ways and life is a mixed bag of experiences. To the degree that we can open to our difficulties will also be the degree to which we can open to our joys and successes. Life comes with such inherent vulnerability. Isn’t it true that when we embrace love, we also open ourselves up to loss? Can we really assume to only have successes without failures and challenges, comforts without discomforts? These are some of the necessary stepping stones in our human development and experience.
Pema Chodron says, “If you are invested in security and certainty, you are on the wrong planet”. This certainly rings true with me. I don’t mean to imply that having guards and boundaries are never wise. In fact they can be very skillful. The practice of meditation, in many ways, prepares us for the vulnerabilities of life; to sit a little longer with a discomfort before moving away, a little more fully with joy and happiness without holding too strongly. In addition, it offers us a safe space for armoring to soften, at least for a time, so that we can feel what we may have been avoiding or what remains, and inquire as to what feels right and true now. It is an invaluable practice to explore the ways we remain intimate with life and the ways in which we sit back at a distance. The inquiry itself can be the seed for change that arises somewhat organically when the time is right.
As far as the iPhone, I can be somewhat clumsy at times so a more protective case feels like a wise move. As for my heart, it is both open and guarded in subtle ways. And for today, this is completely okay.