Two steps forward, one step back. At least I’m going in the right direction
today at 8:00 am
After months of feeling full of myself – on my Schwinn with the balloon tires, look ma, no-hands-cocky – I woke up this week decidedly deflated. I don’t know why. But there I was, damp from the night sweats, contemplating life’s transience and the harsh realities imposed by one funeral to the next.
“What’s wrong,” my wife asked.
I was just about to answer, the familiar Pavlovian reactions to imaginary woes bubbling up on cue… why go on, nobody cares, what’s the purpose…when I stopped short; whiplash abrupt; surprising Arlene, and more importantly, myself, with an unexpectedly perky answer, “nothing, absolutely nothing.”
I do not know neither where the angst nor perspective came from, but suddenly I realized, the question of the morning and for all the mornings that wait for my eyes to open, is not what’s wrong, but “what’s right?”
And bam, I made an emotional U-turn. Because I know the answer! I’m conscious of all that is good in my life. And what waits to be done in the time I have left.
For starters, there is the guiding light of the “lovingkindness” prayer I say at the end of meditation, “May I be a source of healing for all beings.” (A bit presumptuous, but the intention is to be caring and kind to each person who comes into my life, one at a time). That is purpose enough to leap out of bed.
The lofty affirmations aside, I’m blessed with good health, I have a dozen projects that keep me busy all day long, I have friends, and I have love… feelings of deep affection for so many people in my life.
Perhaps the most important of my blessings, is to be aware of them! When I wake up as a discouraged, grumpy pessimist skulking around the house, I can choose to behave differently because I am mindful of whom I am and who I want to be. Whatever I decide to do, the choice is mine.
I can make it so by simply saying so.
Literally, I have the power to create myself at each moment. All of us do.
To draw upon that astounding power, start with an understanding of our tendency to explain our lives as “story,” a narrative of the actual experience. That is remembering, not experiencing!
And for most of us, for most of the time, that is how we live our lives, guided by pre-conditions, seeing the world as we have been taught to regard it, not necessary as it is.
I’ll prove it to you.
Read this sentence quickly: “Paris in the the spring.”
Invariably, all of us will read the phrase with a single article, omitting the second “the.” The lesson: we miss what is there when all we see is what we pre-condition ourselves to see!
I still wake with a groan and a growl when the night’s dream has hurled me into the past or worse, left me facing the hellish specter of eternal doom. The past and the fear of the future provide ample justification for giving up and giving in to the often painful realities of aging. But I have a choice. I can be a victim of circumstances or I can take responsibility for my behavior. I can choose the here and now as the relevant moment.
Only by living in the space of ‘what is’ can I become open to the possibility of ‘what can be.’
This past week, I fell back into the old narrative, as I invariably will do from time to time. But the lapses are short in duration and the periods between, longer in length.