"Each moment is the perfect teacher." I read this sentence from Pema Chodron, so I'll just put that out there. It's not mine, but it inspires me in every moment. A lot of people think happiness, gratitude and easy living come by running from pain and discomfort. If they are struggling, they will change jobs, situations, relationships and believe the change will bring the relief and the life experiences they want to have.
They also think it will make them the person they want to be.
I learned years ago that this isn't the case. In fact, running and changing situations and exiting when we are uncomfortable only begets more pain, frustration and suffering. Many years ago, I stopped jumping from lily pad to person to thing to thing whenever I felt uncomfortable or challenged. It's true that I do change my circumstances from day to day, but now it's because what I'm experiencing isn't aligned with my deepest values of love, honesty, compassion, respect and mutual appreciation. I think there's a difference between leaving when those values aren't there and leaving because you choose not to create and share those values. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Which is why I look to what people do and not what they say they are doing, or what they say they will do---at some point in the future. Because our future begins with what we do now. And our ability to see that, clearly.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. -Aristotle
Each moment is the perfect teacher to see if I am running from something because I'm afraid or running toward the thing that brings me closer to my truest self, even when all I see are the ways I need to grow. Each moment is the perfect teacher to show me, and it allows me to hear, words I use, the way I speak, the ways I behave. And each moment allows me to decide if I'm practicing what I expect from myself in that very moment or pretending it will magically happen someday when "things change".
Pema also says that people can spend their whole lives on a meditation cushion or in a yoga pose and never really live out their yoga. Or practice compassion, for themselves or others. Or really feel their fear. She said people can go through the motions of achieving enlightenment in very convincing ways, to themselves and others, and still be trapped in their habitual patterns of fear and ego. We all need to try and fail. But I've known many people who try and fail and quit, not seeing that success (in this case, enlightenment) comes from endless attempts at trying and failing.
I learned a long time ago not confuse people who are "doing" with people who are "being".
At this point in my pursuit of living as a bodhisattva (spiritual warrior), I have found a happy middle place. Definitely somewhere between knowing and being present with my fear and ego and not giving into it, too much. Somewhere between hearing myself say what I want and seeing myself either doing it or not doing it every moment of my life. Because that's where the work is. That's when it happens.
Having listened to and read Pema's teaching for the past 12 years and knowing many good, good people who can echo back those values to me, I feel closer and closer to being the person I want to be. And each moment is the perfect teacher, to show me where my work continues.