My life was immersed in problems many years ago. I remember saying to myself: “Things are really getting bad. When will someone do something about this?”

I had little awareness that I was that “someone.” Sometimes life feels this way. We feel overwhelmed, lonely, and separate.

Love is a force that connects us, not just to each other, but to the greater world; love limits feeling overwhelmed and separate. Don Juan emphasized this to Carlos Castaneda in Tales of Power.:

“This is the predilection of a warrior. This earth, this world. For a warrior there can be no greater love. Only if one loves this earth with unbending passion can one release one’s sadness. A warrior is always joyful because his love is unalterable and his beloved, the earth, embraces him and bestows upon him inconceivable gifts. The sadness belongs only to those who hate the very thing that gives shelter to their beings.”

Sadness is a natural human emotion. It’s exacerbated by feeling separate. Feeling separated physically is different than feeling separated mentally. We can be separated physically, be alone in a forest, and still feel joyful and connected. We can be connected physically, feel lonely in a crowd, and still feel sad and separated.

Don Juan tells Carlos:

“You’re more alone than ever, because without an unwavering love for the being that gives you shelter, aloneness is loneliness. Only the love for this splendorous being can give freedom to a warrior’s spirit; and freedom is joy, efficiency, and abandon in the face of any odds.”

Shifting loneliness to aloneness requires shifting focus.

If we focus our attention on how lonely we are, then we’ll feel at odds with the world. Our problems will overwhelm us. If we focus our attention on our connection with others and the world, then we feel the strength to meet any odds. Instead of being self-centered, we’re other-centered. Our attention is connected to the world around us, which can offer solutions to our problems.


Love & Connection Helps Solve Problems Opportunities

If focusing on love and connection helps us solve our problems, then we need to care for that love and connection.

Don Juan emphasizes this, telling Carlos:

“If you are a worthy warrior- traveler, be impeccable! Take care of your world. Honer it; guard it with your life!”

My life is still immersed in problems, but I relate to them differently.

Warriors have the awareness that it’s us that solves our problems. And, that loving and staying connected is what helps us feel joyful in the midst of the problems. Warriors don’t solve problems to get rid of problems, feeling sad until they’re problem-free.

They solve problems for their own sake, feeling joyful for the challenge provided to them. Warriors honor their problems as part of caring for their world.


Practice Tip: Shift Problem to Opportunity

The problem isn’t the problem. Thinking you shouldn’t have problems is the problem. Shift your perspective from problem to opportunity.

Notice when a problem presents itself and catch yourself before you react to it.

Then, don’t solve the problem. Look for the learning opportunity.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Daren

    Thanks Arno – perfect!

    1. Arno

      Well, how is Daren? Been soooooooo looooooooong. How are you? a

  2. Matteo

    …it’s nice to find this kind of focus also in the climbing world…not so common…otherwise it’s more or less half of the “game” … 🙂

    1. Arno

      It could be +/- half the game, or more. Without focus… what can we really accomplish? Continue the learning journey. a

  3. Christopher Graham

    Spot on Arno!!! Thank You!

    1. Arno

      Hi Chris, how the hell are you? Still in New England? Be well and attentive up there in the cold… a

  4. Dave Pfurr

    Love this!

  5. Jen Hill

    These nuggets of wisdom are so helpful. I’m dealing with a few injuries that unfortunately make each other worse, having trouble kicking them completely. Been telling myself that I “shouldn’t” have any problems…trying to hold the intention to see them as opportunities to practice good mental fitness. Thanks for the reminder. Love your work, met you at TRC Durham last year.

    1. Arno

      Hi Jen, Hard part is putting “problems are opportunities” into practice. So, I encourage you to constantly remind yourself and then take small actions to engage them. BTW, I’ll be teaching at Durham TRC in Feb (Sunday 23rd). Come to attend and please spread the word to others. Thank you. Arno

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