Appreciating life’s ups and downs

1. Update

Dear Seishindo Community,

First, I want to welcome the newcomers to our newsletter. You are meeting us at a challenging time and I want to let you know what’s going on.

Inessa, the Seishindo webmaster and marketing director is currently being treated for cervical cancer. Because of this our newsletters will not always be arriving every two weeks. Please bear with us, and we will do our best to return to a regular schedule as soon as possible.

For our long term subscribers and supporters, here is an update on Inessa’s condition:

Inessa has traveled from Siberia to Germany. She will start chemo and radiation therapy on Dec. 7th This whole process is meant to take about six weeks. Your ongoing thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated. A number of you have written and said you do not pray, but that you will definitely send loving thoughts our way. This is great! Positive thinking, prayer, “sending love”, is all the same to us, and it’s all received on the same channel.

Please also continue to send us notes of encouragement. Although we might not be able to reply, hearing from you and knowing you are thinking of us helps us to stay positive and upbeat. When time allows, I will eventually write about the life affirming lessons being learned by us. Who knows, I might even be able to persuade Inessa to write an article for us!

We want to thank all of you who have contributed to Inessa’s health fund so far. Your support means a lot, and it helps meet our financial needs. The costs of this entire process are running well above what we expected. About 50 of you have donated so far which is wonderful, and it would be great if another 100 or so folks could dig down and make a donation. We will make it through no matter what, and we’ll get by much easier, with a little more help from our friends!

Please know that we will do our best to return your kindness in the future.

Today I offer you an updated version of a story I wrote a couple of years ago. I present this story again now because it touches on the process that Inessa and I are actively involved in – coming to an understanding that our lives ARE going according to plan!


2. Appreciating life’s ups and downs

Do you sometimes lose control of your emotional equilibrium because you feel you’re being victimized by circumstances that are out of your control? If so, you’ll likely find this story to be of help.

Several months ago a good friend went skiing in Chile.

His plane arrived in Santiago at 4AM, and he was meant to meet a driver at the airport who would take him to a staging area. From there he would transfer to a four wheel drive vehicle and travel up to a mountain lodge with other guests.

After waiting for about a half hour he got anxious and called the lodge, but the staff was still sleeping, and no one answered. Finally at about 5:30 he reached someone at the resort. They apologized profusely, said the driver was a long time trusted employee, and they had no idea what had gone wrong. They called the driver on his cell phone and discovered he had been asleep in the airport parking lot the whole time! Was my friend annoyed? Yes he was, and likely you would have been also.

The newly awakened driver whisked my friend off to the staging area at the foot of the mountain, only to find the four wheel drive vehicle had already departed with three other guests. Needless to say my friend now felt even more annoyed, and likely you would have felt the same. He now needed to waste an entire day waiting for the next ride up the mountain.

As a way of apologizing, the resort promised my friend a helicopter ride to the top of the mountain the following day, and this lessened his disappointment somewhat.

Early the next morning the same driver showed up as scheduled this time, and drove my friend to the helipad. A breathtaking flight up to the resort helped my friend feel much more upbeat. Happy to finally arrive he made his way into the lobby and soon sensed that “something was up.” The owner greeted him and apologized once again, and then cleared his throat as he looked down for a few seconds. Upon looking back up the owner said, “Indeed you are a very lucky man.”

“Lucky?” my friend replied in a testy voice, “Why is that?”

“Unfortunately,” the owner said, “the vehicle you were meant to ride in yesterday was overcome by a sudden avalanche and the driver and the three passengers were swept away and killed.”

My friend was stunned and stood there in contemplative silence.

Here is what he reported to me upon returning:

“For the next two weeks as I skied in a wondrously beautiful environment I found myself having a new appreciation of my life.”
“I realized how narrow my concept of a happy life had been. Previously, my happiness was based on false mental constructs of “good” and “bad.” When things went good I felt great. When things went bad I felt lousy. I failed to appreciate how life flows from one experience into another, and keeps on changing day by day. Sadness into happiness, anger into love, health into disease. I realized it was crucial for me to open my heart to accepting every passing emotion, every trial and challenge.”

“In a moment of time that stood still, I recognized I did not have nearly as much control over the course of my life as I had always imagined.”
“Paradoxically I found this thought comforting. I realized that even though I can’t control the course of my life, I can control the emotional response I have to life’s many ups and downs.”

“Every time I assign a negative meaning or emotion to what takes place, I become a victim of my restricted thinking. I forget that a full life contains some of everything. That we need a good deal of rain, to balance the sunshine.”

“I grieve the death of the driver and his three passengers, while giving thanks for having a bit more time on earth to live my own life. I am determined to share my enthusiasm for living with others.”

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