Tolerance for Inconvenience is Waning. Mayday! Mayday!
Inconvenience (noun) ~ Trouble or difficulty caused to one’s personal requirements or comfort. – Oxford Online Dictionaries
“It’s just that when you really start to take the warrior’s journey – which is to say, when you start to want to live your life fully instead of opting for death, when you begin to feel this passion for life and for growth, when discovery and exploration and curiosity become your path -then basically, if you follow your heart, you’re going to find that it’s often extremely inconvenient.” ~ Pema Chödrön
The other day in the middle of the night, I lost my cool to something that I had to wake up from my sleep to do. It was a simple thing. I had to get up to open mybag and retrieve the iPhone charger that my partner needed to charge his phone. It was an inconvenient thing because I had fallen asleep. When I got back to bed again, I was surprised by the short and fast burst of irritation. It sparked my curiosity and I wondered what is it really that’s bothering me. A couple of days later, I was doing a “lucky dip” on Pema Chödrön’s book, Wisdom of No Escape, and flipped to the Chapter on inconvenience. Reading that chapter led me to think about my past and also to contemplate what inconvenience does to our Spirit.
I lived in a village in Singapore till I was 14. My parents, my two brothers and myself slept in the same bedroom that whole time. We shared an outhouse with my Uncle’s family of 6. We didn’t have a car so we either walked or rode our bicycles in the village. My mother had to walk at least half hour to the nearest market for groceries. My father bicycled to work every morning, except on Sundays. When my family moved to an apartment in the city, I shared a bedroom with my two brothers until I left Singapore at the age of 23. When I looked back at those times, there were definitely tones of inconveniences that my family and I had to live with and through. However, I don’t have any residual resentment, or frustration towards those inconveniences. They were just how things were, and we simply lived and handled what needed to be handled.
My Old House in the Village:
With this new lifestyle, the meaning of home is quite different. What I discover is that a home is more than a place, or a space. It is a feeling and/or a state of being. It is the feeling at peace in my heart and mind where ever I am. It is the feeling of being comfortable with impermanence and with no solid ground to call my own. It is the letting go of wanting a sense of control of my life, and of something safe And strangely, a feeling of equanimity and liberation arise from that letting go that does feel like home. It is like a feeling of finally accepting all of me and feeling at home with myself. Emily Dickinson said, “Where thou art – that – is Home.” In the fall of 1995, I fell in love with performing Arts. It was during my last semester at the University of Georgia that I took an Introduction to Acting class. That was when I tasted Passion and I was on fire. When I moved to NYC, I decided to pursue Performing Arts in Dance and Theater. This was very inconvenient because I just graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Marketing and had not even begun to repay my student loan. Also, my parents didn’t agree that studying Performing Arts was a natural next step for someone who had just graduated with a Business degree, so I was struggling financially as I put myself back to school again. And on top of that, my English that was accentuated with a Singaporean accent back then, proved to be quite inconvenient in theater school. Yet my wholeheartedness in pursing Arts regarded those so called “inconveniences” as nothing more than just occurrences that needed to be dealt with creatively.
My Brothers and Me:
As I recalled how I lived through those past events, I can’t help but notice as I grow older my tolerance for inconveniences such as uncomfortable beds, tight living spaces, no running hot water, irrational and unrealistic pursuits is not as vibrant as before. Well, you may think, “Jovinna, give yourself a break, life doesn’t have to be hard.” I agree. But what I am getting at is that there is a possibility that with the advanced technology and the increasingly sophisticated first world lifestyle, the ability to tolerate “trouble or difficulty caused to one’s personal requirements or comfort” is weakened. That weakening does something to the core of the Spirit. It is like throwing damp wood onto the burning fire. I see inconveniences are opportunities for humans to imagine and generate ingenious responses. That interaction with inconveniences are like doing sit ups that will strengthen the core of the human spirit to live wholeheartedly, and to hold our hearts wide open to the continuous changes in life.
So watch out if convenience becomes a status quo. Pause and reflect on your aliveness and openness.