You’re always in a position to decide if you want to have any reaction to what’s going on. Gregge Tiffen (Open Secrets: An Air of Optimism – May, 2011)
I fell asleep last night with this quote on my mind, sensing that it would guide the muse this week, a week of choices about reacting to events – right here at home and events in the world. In the midst of having a crew here working on the house (cracks repaired, a new coat of stucco she’s receiving), I’ve been observant of my sense of being surrounded and of the sounds (voices, sanding, scraping, hammering, etc.) and of how I respond, both internally and externally.
I’ve been challenged to keep my cool and react with care in trying to have the crew understand that they can’t smoke outside due to a fire ban in our county (not because I’m a b____ who doesn’t like cigarettes). I created a place for them to smoke and ditch the butts, so they wouldn’t inadvertently drop one in the dry grass. They aren’t smoking on the property, but I don’t think they get the danger or understand the ban. So, I’ve practiced letting go. That’s challenging given that fire is a fear I’ve experienced for much of my life.
This week I also experienced a small set back in my breathing practices. I was bummed and, upon a bit of reflection, realized that I was pushing too hard (in total contradiction to the point of the work, which is to breathe less) and making up a story about what my daily ‘pause times’ should be.
And, then there are events in the world: breaking trust and agreements, seemingly endless armed conflict and inhumane treatment of life on many fronts and in many forms, threats to the future of the internet that I depend upon … and so much more.
As if to confirm today’s topic, first thing this morning, I cut my finger while slicing a lemon for my first of the day cup of warm lemon water. There was a time in my life when such an event would have triggered an angry outburst (directed at nobody but me, of course), huffing, puffing, and wasting loads of energy. How could I be so careless …? While I’m sure that I haven’t lost the ability to react in that way, this morning I smiled. With thoughts about today’s post swimming in my head, I felt no emotional outburst – inside or out. I grabbed a towel to stop the bleeding and squeezed lemon in the cup before pouring on peroxide on my finger and applying a bandage. As I sat down to let my thoughts flow onto paper, warm lemon water at my side, I had a sense of knowing, of gratitude, and of peace.
Little events like my cut finger show us where we are in relation to life, if we dare look. Seemingly insignificant, they offer clues to our relationships with ourselves, with others, and with the world we’re navigating. With each event there is the possibility for awareness and learning. Willingness is the ingredient that each of us must add.
That awareness and learning can take us to recognizing points of choice. I and only I choose my reaction to a cut finger, noisy construction, setbacks in projects, and the decisions of our elected officials.
I’m discovering more and more that the foundation for these choices is squarely placed in my relationship to myself. The bedrock of that relationship is my growing understanding and sense of peace about how the universe really works. When I embrace the concept that every event is here for me, there is no room for being the victim or at the effect of these events – even though I have no control over them. My challenge is to be at choice. Sometimes that’s ‘easy, breezy’ and seems to happen quite naturally. When fear and anger creep in, choice can seem limited.
Three questions I find especially helpful in getting to a place of choice when my ability to choose seems illusive are these:
- What is the meaning I am making of this?
- What am I afraid of?
- What is the outcome I desire?
What about you? How are you maintaining your sense of choice about reacting (or not) to events in your world?