15.03.2023

Read this if you’re about to start or finish something

By Anastasia Baraeva
5 min read

Look at Bob. Bob’s been fired recently. He is devastated and despondent about the fact that a system he worked for simply chewed him up and disgorged him. He unwillingly quit the rat race, so he has to stay at home all day long and do nothing.

This is Bob.

Surely, Bob is broken; guilt crushes him and causes migraines. Clouds of self-doubt and worthlessness surround him. The man wakes up at 3 a.m. and keeps himself awake with horrible images of his fall. In his churning mind, his foolish ways destroy his family, savings, and health.

To figure out what is going on, he asks a spiritual teacher about what he is feeling and how long it will last. She replies, “I don’t know. But I know that the time to synchronize one’s life experience and all of one’s being is given to everybody.” Bob is, of course, bewildered by the answer, and he takes some time to ponder it…

What is the master talking about? She reminds the man of the law of cycles.

The law of cycles states that everything that rises must eventually fall. This law is based on the idea that change is constant and everything moves in a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. This can be seen everywhere. For instance, there are four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. When the Earth rotates on its axis, it experiences periods of sunlight and darkness in a regular pattern. The cycling process is reflected in the inhaling and exhaling of humans too. Every seven days, the week repeats itself. Economic growth, stagnation, and recession form the business cycle.

Thus, if we can recognize the cycle, we can project and predict our future.

Two days ago, I watched Oprah’s interview with J.K. Rowling. It was inspiring to learn from successful and wealthy people about their attitude toward the life cycle approach and how they benefit from that knowledge.

O: It’s a remarkable day that we are talking to each other; lately you announced that the Harry Potter series is done, and this is my last interview for the Oprah Winfrey show. How do you feel about that?

J: I will definitely be writing more. I have to write for my mental health. You are coming to the end of this too. How does that feel?

O: It feels like the time is right to end this. I read something recently; it was the story of Michael Jackson and the making of Thriller in 1982. In that story, the writer said that Michael Jackson never realized the phenomenon of the best-selling album of all time. He spent his life chasing the phenomenon and was therefore never satisfied. I thought I didn’t want to be exactly that; I didn’t want to be chasing my phenomenon. I will go on to whatever the next chapter is, and let that be whatever that is going to be.

J: I feel exactly the same.

The conversation reminded me of the famous King Solomon, a wise man who was looking for knowledge on how to turn sadness into happiness and vice versa. He requested that his ministers bring him something with this magical power.

The king received a gold ring with a phrase engraved on the inside of it: “This Too Shall Pass.”

Since getting the ring, it helped the king make wise decisions and stay calm. When his kingdom was damaged and pillaged, he looked at the ring and felt reassured. When Solomon celebrated a victory and honored generals, the phrase “This Too Shall Pass” reminded him again that the state he was in was not going to last forever.

J.K. Rowling and Oprah demonstrate a wise approach to their life experiences, too. They go through them, learn the life lessons, respect their own choice to dive into a particular experience, and let things go. They learn lessons from the past, crystallize them, and evolve.

Summarizing the interview and Solomon’s wisdom, I suddenly realized that I have to teach myself the rule “This Too Shall Pass”. I have to remember the life cycle law: I am the beginning and the ending of everything.

What is a cycle, and what are its stages?

The life cycle is the set of emotional and intellectual stages you pass through in your life. In each stage, you face challenges that allow you to build or gain new skills. Gaining these skills helps you evolve. Evolution is the thing every individual is supposed to do.

Each stage of a grand cycle includes a smaller cycling process.

Actually, the cycle can start at any stage. In my case, it usually begins with a feeling of anxiety or devastation. The process triggers thoughts, and based on those, I engage in behaviour that in turn impacts the situation, and the cycle continues.

At first glance, it may seem that, as creatures of habit, we can do little to interrupt the cycle, but that’s not the case. The wise phrase, “This Too Shall Pass”, might be a solution; with it, we become observers of our lives. When we take a step back, it changes our role as actors over the role of filmmakers. In other words, when we see the big picture and understand the life lesson, it becomes possible to learn from it, respect it, and therefore, evolve.

If Bob had kept in mind the phrase “This Too Shall Pass”, he would have easily found reassurance going through dark times of distress, hardship, and trouble. He would have seen and accepted the manifestation of the life cycling process: “Everything that rises must eventually fall”. That said, punishing himself for “the failure”, Bob got locked into a cycle of despair that robbed him of all his clarity about himself, the situation, and the life lesson. Instead of accepting both parts of life—success and failure, ups and downs—and using the lesson not to make the same mistake again, the man chose to be overwhelmed with guilt.

Once, Miles Davis, an American trumpeter, had an argument about what day it was. When he was shown a copy of that day’s newspaper, proving he was mistaken, he said, ”See that wall of awards? I got them for having a lousy memory.” Miles Davis did what he did without looking back or repeating himself. He didn’t dwell on the past, and maybe that’s why he became a legend.

“This Too Shall Pass” is a very important reminder to appreciate life and live it fully. By integrating the life cycle perspective, we are able to value what we have, but also learn from history because nothing stays the same. Things come and go, and yes, this too shall pass.