DO not you know that freedom is a very beautiful and valuable thing? But for me to choose at random, and for things to happen agreeably to such a choice, may be so far from a beautiful thing as to be, of all others, the most shocking. For how do we proceed in writing? Do I choose to write the name of Dion (for instance) as I will? No; but I am taught to be willing to write it as it ought to be writ. And what is the case in music? The same. And what in every other art or science? Otherwise, it would be to no purpose to learn anything, if it was to be adapted to each one's particular humour. Is it, then, only in the greatest and principal point, that of freedom, permitted me to will at random? By no means, but true instruction is this: learning to will that things should happen as they do. And how do they happen? As the appointer of them hath appointed. He hath appointed that there should be summer and winter, plenty and dearth, virtue and vice, and all such contrarieties, for the harmony of the whole. To each of us he hath given a body and its parts, and our several properties and companions. Mindful of this appointment, we should enter upon a course of education and instruction not to change the constitutions of things, which is neither put within our reach nor for our good ; but that, being as they are, and as their nature is with regard to us, we may have our mind accommodated to what exists.
EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §12. ¶2
It is what it is. One of my most favourite sayings. I have told myself this through many trying experiences in my life. I often use this statement to console myself when things are not what I would consider "optimal". Well yesterday I got some incredibly good news that I have been waiting over five years to hear. I prepared for the outcome to ensure it was favourable to the best of my ability but I had no control over the outcome itself. I often uttered "It is what is is" to many people inquiring the status of decisions, etc. Oh how true that statement was. I was unaware that the foundation for the positive result that I experienced yesterday were underway all around me, in secret. It was what it was, not in an Eyeore "always rains on me" kind of way but in an "everything's coming up roses" kind of way. After many disappointments over the past five years it was a wonderful surprise gift to have a dream outcome.
Now in stating this I don't want to give the impression that I go through life with a cloud of gloom over my head, I don't. I am a realist though. I know that sometimes, no matter what preparation and consideration you have given, things do not work out in the way that we wish they would. That is the reality of living in this life. Bad things do happen to good people and that happens a lot. No matter what you do in life we have no control over our outcomes. The only thing that we can do is train our mind and our will to work to our best ability and understand that is the only "reward" that we may see. At least each night when we end our day and succumb to the small death of sleep, we will know that we have done our utmost to thrive and strive for the best that we can be and do.
This is by no means and easy accomplishment and I think it is one of those moving targets that we will never fully accomplish. Our ideal hero, the sage that we wish ourselves to be, is able to do their best not matter what the outcome or circumstances. This is what true education is to school ourselves and others to strive to be the best "self" that they can be. True education teaches what is to be striven for, virtue and strength of character, learning what is actually going on in our universe, accepting that we are merely players on a stage but always striving to be the best players in the game of life that we can be.
If we can learn these lessons, to really understand that life is about inner growth, the achievement of being the best possible person we can be in that moment, we will act with true reservation. We will be able to say "Que Sera, Sera" and truly be accepting of whatever the outcome will be. Life will no longer be a dark place full of disappointment and strife, but simply a journey through a river. A river filled with eddies, calm pools, rapids and smooth lakes, and we will be ready to accept whatever the river brings. We will move smoothly and expertly, living with wisdom and true virtue. That is what I hope to teach myself in this life and what we all should strive towards until we reach the "undiscovered country" that lies beyond the waters.