It had been at least thirty years since I last skied with an instructor. I made the very most of his knowledge of the ski resort, his well-chosen descents and his expert advice.
I let myself be guided by an expert, a master of his trade, and it did me good to switch off for a few hours and not have to make any decisions, leaving me free to trust in a person who knows what he’s doing.
Following a master like that made me want to repeat the experience in other areas of my life: trust someone, follow them, discover something and just enjoy doing something with a person who knows what they’re doing. Rather than wanting at all costs to do everything myself. Most of all, not asking for help… does all this sound familiar?
What about you? In what particular area of your life would you like to put yourself in the hands of an expert?
During a trip to India, we had long discussions about Buddhist teachings, especially gratitude.
I have long been a fan of gratitude exercises to celebrate small (and big) daily joys, and have now reached the next level for novices of Buddhism:
Instead of keeping my gratitude – and the satisfaction that goes along with it – to myself, I offer it to someone else.
Obviously, this is something I do in my head and heart rather than with a gift-wrapped parcel. At first, I was dubious, and struggled to assimilate this silent gift. But with a bit of training, I’ve understood the additional benefit that it brings: I’m delighted about something and I pass this feeling of delight on to someone else, which of course makes me feel good.
What about you? Who would you like to silently pass your delight on to?
Charles Plumb was a fighter pilot in the American Navy in Vietnam. His plane was shot down and he ejected, landed, was captured and spent six years in prison. He now gives talks about the lessons that can be learnt from this experience.
One day a man came up to him in a restaurant and said: “You’re Charles Plumb, the fighter pilot whose plane was shot down. I was the one who looked after your parachute when you went on missions.”
Surprised, Plumb expressed his undying gratitude: “If my parachute had not worked, I would not be here today.”
Plumb had forgotten all about this man. How many times had he seen him without even saying hello to him? Plumb was a fighter pilot while this man was just a simple sailor. A sailor who spent hours on board the ship carefully folding parachutes on a long wooden table, and who held the fate of a person who did not know him in his hands.
Today when he gives talks, Plumb asks the audience: Who looks after your parachute?”
And what about you? Who looks after yours?
I was already a certain age when I started coaching, climbing, learning Italian and facilitating seminars. It was Seneca that made me see these learning experiences in a different light.
“It’s not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult!”
For every new thing that I learn, I ask myself why I didn’t start earlier. “Not that bad really” is often my first reaction when I finally dare to do something that previously seemed difficult or even impossible.
So as the school year comes to an end and to get the summer holidays off to a good start, I wanted to ask you what could you dare to do this summer to prove to yourself that it’s not really that difficult?
“Life’s a bitch,” moans my friend, furious. “Just when I think my life is on track and everything is fine, that I am enjoying myself and feeling happy, that’s when I have a problem. It’s always the same old story,” she grumbles.
I keep quiet and let her rant. I’ve often had the same thoughts. When it’s all systems go and I’m riding a wave of happiness, some external factor always seems to appear and bring back down to earth. But I’ve often said that was probably a good thing, because it stops me getting too full of myself.
A proverb that I found in a poem that I came across illustrates my ideas in a much prettier way than I can:
“Life is like a rainbow: you need the rain and the sun to see its colours.”
What if we were happy all the time? Would you be able to appreciate the true value of the things that happened to you? It’s the rain that creates the rainbow. So let’s not moan. Let’s see what good is going to come out of this rain. In just a little while.