Are You Willing?


A few weeks ago, we came across an amazing piece by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) on dealing with grief in the wake of her partner’s death. While her words are incredibly resonant and impactful to anyone wrestling with grief, they transcend the topic of loss. Gilbert’s essay asks us to consider how our experience changes when we are simply willing, when we are brave enough to say “no” to resistance.

When was the last time you resisted change? Resisted your feelings (be it happiness, sadness, love, grief…)? Resisted an experience? How would the result have been different if you had been willing? Willing to change, willing to feel, willing to experience?

In the end, it comes down to being humble enough to accept the things we cannot and will never be able to control. When we are willing, we are convert resistance into gratitude. Gratitude for the life lessons that come our way whether we like it or not.

What are you willing to do, to say, to be today?

Excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert’s “I Am Willing”

I have learned that Grief is a force of energy that cannot be controlled or predicted. It comes and goes on its own schedule. Grief does not obey your plans, or your wishes. Grief will do whatever it wants to you, whenever it wants to. In that regard, Grief has a lot in common with Love. 

The only way that I can “handle” Grief, then, is the same way that I “handle” Love — by not “handling” it. By bowing down before its power, in complete humility.

When Grief comes to visit me, it’s like being visited by a tsunami. I am given just enough warning to say, “Oh my god, this is happening RIGHT NOW,” and then I drop to the floor on my knees and let it rock me. It’s a full-body experience. To resist it is to be brutalized by it. You just bow down — that’s all you CAN do — and you let this thing roll through your heart and body and mind, in all its vehemence. 

How do you survive the tsunami of Grief?

By being willing to experience it, without resistance. By being willing to feel everything. By being willing to accept the unacceptable.

The conversation of Grief, then, is one of prayer-and-response.

Grief says to me: “You will never love anyone the way you loved Rayya.”

And I reply: “I am willing for that to be true.”

Grief says: “She’s gone, and she’s never coming back.”

I reply: “I am willing for that to be true.”

Grief says: “You will never see her walk in the door again.”

I say: “I am willing.”

Grief says: “You will never have access to her wisdom again.”

I say: “I am willing.”

Grief says: “You will never hear that laugh again.”

I say: “I am willing.”

Grief says, “You will never smell her skin again.”

I get down on the floor on my knees, and — and through my sheets of tears — I say, “I AM WILLING.”

I am beginning to understand that Grief is not the same thing as Depression. Depression is unwilling. Grief is a MOVEMENT — catastrophic and mighty — that you ALLOW to rock you and spin you. Depression is refusal to feel. Depression is a refusal to move, or to be moved. Depression is resistance, and resistance is futile. 

I am not depressed, in the wake of Rayya’s death. I am DESTROYED, but I am not depressed — but that’s only because I am willing to be destroyed. 

I will live on, because I am WILLING. I am willing to take this life on God’s terms, not mine. 

Love’s terms, not mine. 

Grief’s terms, not mine. 

I am willing to surrender to the reality that I will never understand any of this. I am even willing to accept that I may not ever fully heal from the loss of Rayya.

Grief says: “You may never recover from this”

And I say: “I am willing.”

This is the job of the living — to be willing to bow down before EVERYTHING that is bigger than you. And nearly everything in this world is bigger than you. Let your willingness be the only big thing about you.

Posted on October 26, 2018 and filed under Around the Web, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Mindfulness.