One of my favourite stories involves a ruler who found himself on an emotional roller coaster far too often. When things were going his way, he was happy to the point of smugness: he’d been doing things right and now he could count on personal satisfaction as his reward. When things were going badly in his estimation, he’d wail and rage, feeling cheated by life.
This particular ruler was wise enough to recognize that he was missing something by being at the mercy of his emotions. So he gathered his sages for advice. When they’d heard the ruler out, they departed, promising him a solution.
The next day they provided it: a ring engraved “this too shall pass”.
Why a ring? A ring encloses our finger, wraps around it, the same way our lives enclose us. We’re not meant to escape them. Detachment is often mistaken for a solution to the personal journeys we’re all called to make. The ring, with its saying, provides context and containment for our emotions. Our emotions are only part of who we are. We are called to stay involved emotionally without mistaking our emotions for the whole story.
In fact, all of our moments are just part of our stories. Enjoy the highs while they’re here because they’ll come to an end. Take heart through the lows because they’ll come to an end. Eventually, even our current story will end. You want to be fully present for every engrossing moment, without being overwhelmed by your emotions and without kicking them to the curb.
No matter how high the highs or how low the lows, we can keep our balance, knowing