The concluding passage from the often quoted 'Serenity Prayer' speaks to wisdom–that elusive quality that combines knowledge, awareness, understanding. It is cognitive in the sense that it attempts to reason its way past the powerful emotions that grip us when life's adversities hit us.
Wisdom is powerful when it can be applied in the process of healing. But as the prayer alludes to….what can we change? What must we accept ? That is the question!
The answers to those questions are far from clear-cut. Change implies action, a quality which differs from one person to the next. Change implies courage, desire, fortitude, perseverance. Whereas one individual might give up or give in, another might refuse to let go of their dream, their goal. Perhaps desire can affect such change. And what about trying to change others? Ah, a far more difficult goal. But do we walk away from those we care about because they don't seem to do what we desire them to do? Even in these situations there remain possibilities and potentials for transformation.
Acceptance is difficult for most of us who thrive on attempting to control the chaos around us. It, too, is dependent on circumstances. There are times when we have exhausted all reasonable attempts to change our own fate and the path of a loved-one. There are certain basic truths to existence which cannot be altered. All individuals have free will. We cannot completely comtrol the choices of others. Everything changes. Life is impermanent. Life is all too brief and impossible to control.
The ability to make peace with this truth–is wisdom. When we have done everything that we can do to manage life's suffering, when we have chosen to view life as a gift, an opportunity for transformation, when we have chosen to seek connection, compassion and caring. When we are grateful for what we have rather than for what we don't. When we can see the buds on the otherwise bare branches of trees. When we tell those around us we love them and don't take them for granted. When we appreciate how fortunate we are to live in this country at this time and place…..then we are applying wisdom to our lives and those around us.
When we do the best we can—serenity will be our reward.