“May you live in interesting times” is purported to be a traditional Chinese curse. While seemingly a blessing, the expression is always used ironically, with the clear implication that ‘uninteresting times’, of peace and tranquillity, are more life-enhancing than ‘interesting’ ones, which from historical perspective usually include disorder and conflict. It is more of an apocryphal saying than attributable to any source but its popularity and common use must be because it reflects a deep truth.
It is blindingly obvious that there are turbulent and changing times around us and although the ‘big picture’ of what the news bulletins concentrate on can easily lead us to forget that the world is full of all kinds of ‘interesting times’ to challenge individual lives every day.
Until we are caught up in some situation of course, then it becomes very important to us. This sense of turbulence, change and to some extent vulnerability to external things is part of how we have to live. We plan but have to be adaptable in the ways we actually do things and when changes are required the way we cope can be the most telling thing about us. Being taken ill disrupts our plans and we may need others to change their arrangements as a result. Sometimes this is simple and relatively minor, other times it is incredibly serious and difficult to deal with.
Screaming our frustration at what has gone wrong in life may feel good as an initial reaction but it doesn’t change what needs to be done. In the ordinary way that life goes on there is a general acceptance that things do go wrong and mistakes will happen. It is usually how they get resolved (or not), that defines what we think of the company concerned or the individual we are dealing with.
In all the various ‘interesting’ events that colour our days, is there not a higher Providence giving us opportunities to put into practice the qualities within us we believe we should live by? It is sometimes difficult to accept that, if there is a Providence, why it doesn’t stop some event happening and save a lot of pain or heartache. But we know this world is filled with difficulties and individuals can choose to do things that result in harm to others – intentionally or by accident.
When the “interesting” events happen in life, we can’t avoid being caught up and can only do what seems best to us at the time. When deciding on the best thing it can be hard to set aside our sense of being wronged or our desire to punish someone. However, this is precisely the tests we are facing each day. Showing consideration and care for the other person is always harder when that individual is in our bad books for whatever reason.
Coping with challenges leads to new outcomes; we may see these as better or worse but it will be different. It is part of the process which helps us change as individuals as we have to cope and work through all kinds of situations. Lovely when it is all smoothly going to plan but we can’t rely on that peaceful state forever; experience tells us something else will come along soon.
Keeping to the right values when times are “interesting” is a real test of our principles and beliefs; a process that shapes us in this life and eventually the next.
Copyright 2017 Christine Bank