Living With Reality

Tooshar Exploring the Bog

“It is what it is!” I hear that phrase a lot, or its spiritual variant “Embrace reality.” ‘It is what it is!’ is usually accompanied by a shrug of resignation, like there’s no choice but to accept what can’t be changed.

As I write this, my dog, Tooshar, is curled up on the rug gnawing on a rawhide bone, a picture of relaxed contentment. She’s eight, or middle aged in doggie terms and last year her life changed completely. She moved from Dublin, Ireland to California, USA with no choice in the matter. In Dublin she raced every day around a local park chasing birds she knew she’d never catch. Here, in California, her evening walk is a sedate ramble around an urban block, securely leashed. In Dublin, on weekends, she ranged freely through the mountains, leaping exultantly across undulations of turf and heather and bog cotton, navigating by smell. Here she gets to sniff her way along feral cat tracks in the few city parks that permit dogs.

I feel sorry for her and how her life has been diminished by forces outside her control, namely me. She, on the other hand, is relaxed, content and perfectly at peace exploring the greatly reduced yet equally fascinating corners of her shrunken world. She accepts what is without the shrug of resignation. In other words, she truly accepts – no second guessing, no martyrdom, no wishful gazing upon what might or should or could be. And it has eliminated the kind of suffering most humans seem to go through when confronted by circumstances they can’t change. She has no place in her doggie awareness for how things should be. She’s busy living with how they actually are.

Some questions beg to be answered here:  Should we always accept reality?  Are there some situations we should fight against?  Or is there a greater spiritual reality that transcends all of this?


4 replies
  1. Jimmy
    Jimmy says:

    You’ve got to stand up against things that are wrong. How can you just let stuff happen. You can’t just accept everything.

    • Catherine
      Catherine says:

      Hi Anonymous and Jimmy,
      Thank you for your comments. You bring up a very important point. Where I’m coming from there is a bigger picture than either doing something or not doing something. It’s about emotional attachment, about being invested in doing something about the injustices of the world. It’s as if our self-image is somehow connected with fighting injustice. Acceptance is a kind of inner facing of reality. This is what it is and while I don’t like it, that’s the way it is. As Jesus said, the poor will always be with us. It doesn’t mean you don’t do something about a situation, poverty for example, it means you do it without anger and investment in the outcome. You do it because it’s who you are, your dance (de Mello), not because it’s something you ‘should’ fight against. It makes you more clear headed, and also more at peace. Subtle but real.

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