The Rocky Side of Life

If you are irritated by every rub

– how can you ever be polished?

I have stumbled upon this quote by the famous poet, mystic and philosopher Rumi some time ago. For me, it was at first a bit of an intriguing and even cruel view on the world and on life itself. It implicates that life is meant to be hard and trouble is always accompanying us; that we are always in a state of colliding, of rubbing against an obstacle in order to proceed. Somehow really an exhausting point of view, isn’t it?

After a few days, I had realised that I was still contemplating on this quote and that I was not satisfied with my understanding of it. There was something deeper in it and so I started to reflect on my life, my past experiences and the upcoming challenges I will face in the near future. Yes, life is full of obstacles, full of tasks and missions. The moment we think it’s done and we can finally rest our minds peacefully, fate, life, the universe – or whoever – is throwing a new snowball at you and you are finding yourself already in the midst of the next messy situation (and we all know what I’m talking about!).  So, I think, Rumi IS right about that “rubbing part” – no way, of denying that. Life is a path full of obstacles.

Hm, not really satisfying? Well, yes of course, it’s not really always sunshine, ice cream and chocolate chip muffins. But let’s start to look at it a bit differently:

Look back and think at the last big issue you have gone through.
  • What has happened?
  • How has it resolved itself?
  • What came out of it as consequences?
  • How have you developed? Where do you stand now?
  • What can you learn about yourself through this situation?

Have you ever reflected on past events or issues or just moved on? I guess, the key to all of that, is to take the time, be mindful and really re-analyse, what has come out of that obstacle you have just passed. Personally, I prefer to write my thoughts and feelings down and slowly, I get enough distance to see the whole picture.

◊Yes, someone bumped into your car and it’s now really a big mess, but maybe you gained experience in dealing with legal affairs?

◊Or maybe you see your job as an obstacle to your inner peace. How about changing the perspective and appreciating how you have personally grown out of this situation or learned to work maybe under pressure?

◊You had a big fight with your friend or family member and you cannot let go of the negativity in you? Maybe it’s time to reflect on your image or expectations on this person. Are they still valid? Maybe they or you have changed.

I think, what Rumi was trying to tell us in the 13th century already is that, by definition, we are always in the middle of something, facing some rocks on our path. But it is NOT to make your life a road of suffering and to torture you. It is there to improve you as a whole being. To make your body stronger, to let your mind grow and expand its self-set limits. The rocks on our way, which we have to pass, are not there to drag us down. They are tools. Tools to get the best out of us. To polish our abilities, to help us grow beyond anything.

The point is that we have to understand that fact! I’m not speaking about lying to yourself, put some gloss over a personal disaster and say: ” Yeah, it was not that bad as it seemed.” Because sometimes, there is simply no denying the fact that life can be cruel! It’s more about to see that YOU have the power to use it as a tool for YOURSELF. Figure out how you have grown through that. Be mindful and accept all the rocks, all obstacles you are facing as teachers for yourself. See them as the tools to your personal growth.

Gems aren’t simply shiny and beautiful just like that. They need to be polished. And sometimes that can be a hard process, but it’s worth it in the end…


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