All Is Just As Well
There is this song that I like by Jackie Greene with a refrain in it that repeats “Oh, it’s just as well.” I think we should all be so lucky to have that be the chorus line after each event in our own lives. That our reaction to each occurrence is agnostic.
Marcus called it the Art of Acquiescence. Lincoln thought it that it was the one truly appropriate response for all situations. But this is too often misconstrued as “accepting” bad things that happen to you. Really the least important and easily accomplished half.
The idea is to take both the bad and the good equally, in stride. The subtle but critical difference between resilience and robustness is that resilience is about withstanding pressure while robustness – that is: vigor, strength, health – is the ability to withstand change.
My father told me that life oscillates between the highest highs and the lowest lows, but usually it’s somewhere in the middle. He also always says that nothing lasts forever.
My father may have stolen this from the men before him, but it was possibly the best thing he’s ever taught me.
Awesome awesome awesome awesome.
I really like Robert Greene’s take:
“Nothing is ever bad in this life (a subject I will elucidate in a book that I am working on). Everything depends on how you judge it, after it happens. You can make anything bad turn into something good if you swear to learn a lesson from it, see in it the potential for something positive.”
Most events in life that are automatically judged as “bad” have hidden benefits that most people don’t appreciate. Of course, you’ve written about a similar concept before. Say, if one were to put a gigantic hole in one’s apartment wall as a result of drunken idiocy, you could piss and moan, or you could see it as an opportunity to learn a new skill set. Dry wall, in particular.
This is exactly how my best friend lives his life. He also fetches tennis balls, shakes himself dry, and every once in a while, shits where he’s not supposed to.
not the life for me
This topic is something that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on lately as well. What you’ve described here as your ideal stance sounds a lot to me like the Buddhist idea that the wise attitude toward life is to not become attached. Attachment is what makes us invested, and makes us desirous of success pleasure and fearful of failure and pain. For a long time I was convinced that this acquiescence was something worth discovering. However, lately I’ve been feeling like it might also be really important to care passionately about something. Maybe it’s just the pangs of nostalgia and loss getting to me, but I feel like I miss being thoroughly invested in the outcomes of the world. Of course these probably aren’t mutually exclusive – it is probably possible to be acquiescent while simultaneously caring passionately, but it seems like there is little talk about how to become passionate, while a lot has been said about being stoic.
I’d be very interested in reading about anyone else’s experience with acquiescence and acceptance versus(?) passionate caring.
Although that is an interesting discussion, attachment is not really what I’m talking about more.
Here’s basically the epitome of what I’m talking about: You go into work tomorrow and get fired. Or, you go into work tomorrow to a huge raise. All is Just As Well.
In re-reading my comment I see I didn’t do a very good job of explaining myself. What I’d ask you is isn’t the sort of stance you described in relation to work resultant from not being attached to the way things are in the world? (i.e. you aren’t attached to your job, so when you lose it or receive a huge raise you are able to see it primarily as simply another occurrence in life as opposed to primarily something upsetting or satisfying) What particularly makes me think we’re talking about something similar here is when you say robustness is the ability to withstand change, which seems to me to be another way of saying that we shouldn’t be attached to the way that the world is, or the way that we want the world to be. By relinquishing our attachments we are abled to appreciate the flow of time and see that “All is Well” when we succeed as well as when we fail, when we are feeling pleasure or pain.
Anyway, I just meant to describe the feeling I have from time to time that I am missing out on some elements of life because of my lack of attachment to the way things are or the way I want them to be. It seems like the attitude of acquiescence may have a tendency to encourage and promote apathy.
So it goes.
I’m with you