I had a dream some nights ago in which I was trying to prepare for a trip to the airport. I was rushed, and stressed that there were so many things to pack, and so many things to do to meet my timeline. I found myself hurrying across a town square, in some unknown town, to make it to a restaurant where I had, for some reason, left some of my things. I forced what I could into my luggage, and shoved the rest into a grocery bag. I then dragged the bulky pullman and the additional bag back across the rough dirt road and began lugging it up a hill, pushing hard to make it on time. Just then, my bag burst open and all its contents spewed out. Breathing hard, certain I would miss my flight, I crawled on my hands and knees to gather up the random items - a can of oil for my car, a pair of cheap flip flops, shirts, shorts, panties rolling around in the town square dust. Hurry, hurry, get it done, get there on time. Suddenly, I found myself tossed into the air by a bull, a Brahmin bull. The rush and panic were replaced with stillness as I floated above the bull's back, light and weightless. The bull turned its huge head up and said to me, "It is when you stop struggling, that I can carry you."
I am reminded of that dream this morning. A dragonfly (my spirit animal) has flown into my house. He is large with a tattered wing. Perhaps a bit like me. He landed right by my knee for a moment, then flew off to circumnavigate the room. He has been busily buzzing the windows, struggling to get where he needs to go. I know there is no hope of catching him to help him out. Finally, he quieted on the windowsill. He stopped struggling. I walked over to him and ever so gently placed one hand over him. He didn't move. I placed the other hand under to scoop him up and he stepped onto my finger. I lifted and cradled him, in the pocket of my hands. He didn't struggle. I walked with him outside. His translucent wings quivered, but he stayed still. I lifted my upper hand and he sat still on my finger, turning only to look at me. I held him close to my face, so I could see the green speckles on his body, and the large, bulbous eyes. We looked at each other for a full thirty seconds. Then I said to him, "You can fly now," and he did. His wings lifted and he rose into the air. It was when he stopped struggling, that I was able to carry him.
Struggling. Trying to be, trying to get, trying to have. We all struggle. We struggle against emotions that we "shouldn't" have. We struggle against an unreasonable boss, or an unappreciative mate, or an uncooperative situation. We struggle against time and age. We struggle against perceived limits, and glass ceilings, and situations beyond our control. We think, "If I had more time, or money, or good looks, or luck, then I wouldn't have to struggle so much." We rush and hurry and beat our wings against the world.
Suppose we stopped struggling. Suppose we accepted the time and money, and looks we have. Suppose we accepted the people in our lives for who they are and who they aren't. Suppose we accepted where we are now, with love and gratitude.
I don't believe ceasing to struggle means being passive. I think of flying airplanes. In a stall, the aircraft will naturally right itself if we take our hands off the control (of course, adequate altitude for the recovery is necessary here). Most airplanes are designed to achieve stability if we don't struggle against them too much. In an emergency, struggle, or panic, is your worst enemy. The key is to understand and accept the current situation - "Ok, my alternator just went out, and I'm 11,000 feet over rural Oregon in the soup" (yes, this happened to me). "This is where I am. This is my plan of action for this situation."
This is where I am. This is my one, big, beautiful life. This is me, in all my perfect imperfections. This is okay and right and wonderful, just as it is.
And so, here I am, with lessons from bulls, and dragonflies, and airplanes. Learning not to struggle. It is a peaceful, powerful place to be.