“When you finally give up striving, you will be left with what you have been striving for.” – Alan Cohen

The word “striving” makes me think of being tight.  Teeth gritted, fists in a ball, shoulders to ears, hunched up and ready to push.  Striving says to me there’s something I’m trying to move that isn’t moving.  It might though, on occasion, move a little. I lose my balance and fall.  But I’m striving, so I get right back up and keep going.

Merriam-Webster defines it like this: “to devote serious effort or energy.”  That’s not too bad, but serous effort and energy is no fun if it doesn’t deliver. The word strive derived from the word strife (to fight or quarrel).  M-W also offers a definition of strive as “to struggle in opposition.”  All the way around, not a pretty thing.

I find myself striving a lot.  I suspect there are others who do, too. We are a nation of strivers. (I wonder, does it affect our driving? Most likely, it does.)  We are all striving to get somewhere, on time, if we can.

Striving feels so righteous.  You are in there pushing and shoving, pulling and dragging.  You’re in the Game, doing what you should be doing, striving away, every day.

Striving certainly requires a tight grip and certainly that grip doesn’t allow much room for receiving, welcoming, or opening.  It doesn’t allow your best to shine through.

The second part of this quote is interesting. What you’re left with when you let go is what you were striving for all along.  Very Zen to get what you want by not doing.  But it’s true.  It’s hard to get what you want when you’re so tight and quarrelsome.  We are all too busy striving to even notice when we get there.

What the quote also says is that when you stop striving, you will get what you’re truly striving for.  The essence of what you want is always right there in front of you.  But it’s hard to see when you are squint-eyed in striving.  Grit and determination do not bring what you truly want.  It’s in the letting go.

Makes me think of the cookie jar.  If you try to hold on too tight, you can’t get your hand out.  The way to have what you want, what you’re “striving for” is not in trying harder as we have all been told a million times, but in fact, it is in trying easier.