Suffering from “I am giving up”
(Chatting with a leaf)
To give up is to resign reluctantly.
Besides resigning actively by sending as a letter of resignation, when we resign we are accepting that something is undesirable, unacceptable but inevitable and without solution.
Here is a very weird daily human behavior.
Some situations, being totally out of our control are accepted without resistance. For example we accept aging, having an obnoxious neighbor, the weather and knowing someone far smarter than you are.
However there are other situations also totally out of our control and for which we are going to resist even fight against until we finally… give up. For example trying to change someone.
When something affecting us such as – event, situation, fact, or somebody – is perceived being inevitable, useless, undesirable, inacceptable or even dangerous, we have then two options.
If there is a possible solution, we can try to deal effectively with that issue by working on all options in finding this solution.
But if there is no solution, we have eventually to surrender and to abandon any hope. The agonizing “I am giving up“ pops-up.
For our ego, the decision to quit hopelessly without resistance, without counter-attack is very painful and very frustrating since no escape is possible. We have to swallow it whether we like it or not. The greater the anger, frustration, resentment and hopelessness feeling, the more painful the situation becomes. The more our ego is reacting by resisting and fighting a hopeless situation, the deeper we fall in despair.
Few weeks ago while walking along the creek nearby home with Cathie and Zap, I watched a maple tree green leaf floating on the surface of the water and carried by the current. The leaf was docile, moving around, twisting on itself, oscillating, bouncing against rocks and trunks and trying to stay afloat. Despite having absolutely no control on the situation, she looked like a happy leaf having good time. Being curious, I stopped walk and started chatting with this beautiful leaf.
“Hello dear leaf, you look quite happy and serene on the water and yet there is nothing you can do about the current.”
“What do you mean?” asked the leaf.
“Well, you have absolutely no control on the situation, isn’t it? You cannot stop for a break, move upstream, and have a rest on the shore. The current is manipulated you since you fell in the water and yet it seems that you don’t care for having no control on your hopeless situation. In your place I would be pissed to be toasted like this all day long knowing that I have no choice and there is no escape”.
The leaf: “Are you telling me that I am resigning, that I gave up and that I should be sad, mad and frustrated?”
“Yes, this is how I would react, and want to control whenever I can” I said.
“I am not resigned, I am accepting. There is a difference. The resigned is a victim whereas the one who accept is at peace,” replied the little leaf.
Few seconds later she added: “The big difference is that I am a leaf and you are human.”
“ I know that, thanks. What do you mean?” I replied.
“ Well. You humans have a huge “I” or “me”. This is your artificial self that you call ego. Its main job, among others, is to boast your self-identification and self-image by making the self stronger, more powerful and in control. Ego is hidden in your subconscious reptilian mind. Beside power and control the ego is responsible for self protection, survival, quest for pleasure, desires, etc.”
“So what, smart leaf?” I said.
The leaf replied: “One way to feel stronger, more powerful and in control is to resist and fight something or somebody that your ego does not like, doesn’t want to give up and wants to control. It is absolutely OK when, facing a situation for which a solution is possible. You can have an input and work hard in achieving it. But, when the situation or the person you are dealing with is definitive and without solution, ego-driven non-acceptance and resistance induced suffering. This is automatic. Eventually, your rational mind will take over your ego-driven emotional one and you will eventually resign, giving up. This is like a slap on your face, perceived as a huge failure for the ego. This is, indeed, laughable.”
Kindly, the leaf added: “You see, I am just a leaf, and a leaf like many other living beings is egoless. So, I have no reason to resist or even fight against a situation for which I have no control whatsoever. Accepting such situations is not cowardice or weakness; it is pure intelligence and wisdom. It is consciousness or awareness before emotions. I was born in a maple tree and raised by it so I learned very quickly that accepting what you cannot control is opening the door to ongoing serenity. Learning to be aware of what we can do and what we cannot do is wisdom.”
Remember the story of great Zen Master Hakim who always replied “OK” to anything for which he had no control.
Finally, I decided to conclude: “Thank you dear leaf. I understand now. Always try all options to find solutions. But, after that, if I am fighting against a hopeless situation, I am better off by letting go and accept it rather than giving up. Instead of feeling being a victim, I am in control.”.
“Wonderful said the leaf, you got it”
And she moved away, dancing, twisting and happy in the powerful current. She was in the moment, whatever the moment is. A great lesson from Nature.