Giving up may be the best way forward?

Rudyard Harrison

A life that is focused on self-gratification, is a life that is emotionally and spiritually lacking.

That sounds rather judgemental, doesn’t it?

But before we throw it on the trash heap of bad ideas, let’s give it a closer look!

We have struggled through a difficult year, a real annus horribilis! We are emotionally hammered.

The big question for most of us is, how do we find the best way forward? Perhaps our journey will be facilitated by a determination to give up some of the obstacles that impede our progress?

We can start by addressing our fear of death…

Who among us is not afraid of the certainty of our own death? We need to discover the art of coming to terms with death.

We need to prepare ourselves for the final act of giving up.

This is a deeply personal journey and it is not necessary for everyone to handle it in the same way. But we must face the inevitable completion of our life if we are to live fully in the world.

A crisis has a funny way of focusing our attention…

How many of us, I wonder, thought about a dysfunctional relationship with a family member during the lockdown?

We need to find a way to work through the obstacles that keep us apart, that keep us from enjoying someone’s company.

This will doubtless entail the giving up of our glorious indignation and self-righteous desire for retribution…

We can’t afford to stay angry with someone. Life is far too short for such nonsense.

The past 12 months may also have revealed the danger of procrastination… When the future looks different from what it used to be, alarm bells should start ringing. We should realise that there is still a lot to be done.

We should rise hastily from our armchairs of lethargy and determine to give up the bad habit of putting things off.

The widows, the orphans, the homeless, the unemployed, the destitute, the suicidal will not be able to wait indefinitely for good people, like ourselves, to get alongside them and ease their pain.

We need to remove the blinkers of self-centredness,

and engage in community building.

And what about the vexed question of planning for the future?

I haven’t heard much talk lately about five year plans…nor haveI heard questions like “what do you want to do when you complete your degree?”

We have become painfully aware that many of our plans for 20/21 have been dashed to pieces by an relentless foe.

We may need to give up long term planning. We may need to temper our expectations. We must learn to respond quickly to the ever changing landscape! Our planning must be provisional, flexible, short term and fully cognisant of prevailing conditions.

All is not lost, there is a way forward, there will be a future. Although it may be a little different than we imagine.

The past year has made us climb a steep learning curve and in the process we have found new solutions to old problems. We have had time to reflect critically on our lifestyles, relationships, mental and physical health, and expectations for the future.

In order to find the best way forward, we may need to give up something of our “rage to live”.


Rudyard Harrison is a retired Methodist minister, and works as a councillor at the Ruarch Centre in Somerset West.

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