Life is just too hard
by Graeme Kapono Urlich
Most evenings after dinner I make espresso coffee to sit down and enjoy some television with. I have a small
plastic shaker filled with chocolate powder to sprinkle on top of the coffee but one particular night I was
rushing to get it made before the program started on the telly but the shaker was empty.
In my rush to get it open and filled up again I had trouble getting the top off. After a bit of frustration
and angst I realised that I was trying too hard to unscrew the top and the more pressure I tried to apply
the more stuck the top became to the point that I could have broken it if I had forced it much more. Only by
relaxing and applying just enough pressure could I get the top to unscrew.
A few days later I realised that I sometimes do this in life as well, trying too hard to make things work
and the harder I try the more it seems to go awry and get out of control. Like the old saying goes, “The
hurrier I go the less I do”.
The reason this happens for me is that as I get more impatient with the slowness of change that I want or
frustrated with obstacles the more stressed I get. The more stressed I get the less effective I become and
the more I try to force and control the change and the worse it gets... I tend to become critical of my own
perceived inability to create change and the apparent lack of cooperation from others. In order to get
things to flow again I need to step back, let go of control, focus my thoughts and let things flow.
I used to see this pattern when I was developing computer software too. If I got stuck on a piece of code
the more I battled with it the more elusive the answer seemed to become. As soon as I took a step back,
moved on to another issue or just took some time out the answer magically popped up. Most of us have had the
experience of having a name or the answer to a question on the tips of our tongues but just out of reach
until we shift attention and let go of the stress of trying to remember.
I need to remember that I am not alone in creating change, I don’t have to do it alone and in fact I can’t
do it alone. My conscious self (lono) has help from my subconscious mind (ku) and my
spirit-self (aumakua/kane) and I have to cooperate with them, set a clear intention and maintain
clear focus and allow space for others who are needed to assist in the change to flow as well for it to
happen more easily and quickly.
I recently had the same problem finding a new home for my family. Having sold the old one and a short time
frame and a limited budget to find a new one I scoured the real estate listings, raced around loads of
viewings and became more and more stressed because everything that would fit us all seemed way above our
price limit. It was beginning to look impossible and with family and pets to home I was getting very
Once I woke up to the fact that I was making finding a home that we liked, would fit in and could afford
more unlikely I took a step back and took my mind off the search for a while. I took some time relax as best
I could, define what it was we wanted and told spirit to go out and find it for us. A few days later we were
driving around open homes and spotted one that we didn’t have on our list.
We had some time so stopped in to have a look and liked it so we went back the next day. That evening we put
in an offer that the agent didn’t think would buy the house as there was an offer from another party. I said
to myself “Ok, we have offered as much as we can pay so if we don’t get it we’ll move on to the next one”.
That evening we got a call to say we had bought the house. All it took was relaxing and refocusing attention
to get the movement we needed. We had been looking for nearly two months but we had one in a week once we
changed our thinking around it.
Lono has a love of becoming and ku has a love of being. These two states go hand in hand
but we get into problems when we compare what we are with what we want to become and judge the result as
being deficient, frustrating or just plain bad. With the house I was letting the fear of not having a home
for my family drag my attention in the wrong direction. What I wanted was a nice comfy home and what I had
was the prospect of not having a place to live and a few weeks time.
If ku did not maintain the structure of present patterns then life would be so fluid we could not
have meaningful experience. We would wake up to a substantially different world every day. Changing
ku patterns, what we are today, always involves tension, resistance, and how much depends on how
fast we want to make the change and how big the change is. Trying too hard and creating too much resistance
often ends in anger and depression. Often the choices we make to try and solve problems involve taking on
even more stress. This is ok if it is short term and we know how to recover quickly from it but when we are
already over stressed we must make choices that reduce stress.
What we need to do to reduce stress may seem to require moving in a direction that seems to take us away
from our goal but once we get more relaxed we have more power to attain the original goal. We can look at
stress reduction then as a stepping stone towards the goal rather than a failure to achieve it.
Graeme Kapono Urlich (February 2010)
Aloha New Zealand - School of Hawaiian Shamanism