I gazed through the half open blind slits of the window behind the desk and could see the lights of the skyscrapers in downtown Brisbane glistening in the night sky. Books were piled on every available flat surface—some calling out beguilingly to be read and others, already finished but still too cherished to be relegated to a generic bookshelf, rested contently. On top of the nearest recently finished pile just to my left was a worn copy of “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe that I surprisingly had just read for the first time. I had no idea that this ‘tale of adventure’ would affect me so deeply and convey such a relevant message to me about finding peace and contentment in the midst of struggle, adversity, and hardship.
Robinson Crusoe dealt heroically with insurmountable obstacles, and over time eventually learned to accept his life situation as it was, and use his ordeal as a catalyst for positive transformation and spiritual realization, not an excuse for bitterness and despair. Despite the constant physical challenges and loneliness, he learned to work with his situation, not against it. Robinson ultimately realized that his greatest and most important challenge had not been dealing with his life circumstances, but rather discovering his inner strength, contentment, and peace.
How often we are self-absorbed, unhappy and discontent with the circumstances of our lives, while others bear much greater and more challenging burdens with quiet acceptance, dignity, patience, strength, resolve, and faith. How often our regrets about the past and worries about the future blind our objectivity and limit our awareness of what truly is truly important in life—the precious present in which we live! The words of Viktor Frankl aptly describe Robinson’s choice, the choice we all can make: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” We too can choose to reclaim our inner spiritual peace amidst the unavoidable challenges and uncertainty of life. When we learn to be happy with uncertainty, then we too can be truly happy.