Let’s try something new…
of your worries and fears. For just this moment. Let go of your to-do lists and your experience of chaos. Let go of that feeling that you are so tired and life is so busy. Simply choose, right now, for a moment, to let go, and take a deep breath. Simply choose, for a moment, to be still.
And allow the moment to pass.
Now, don’t jump straight back to the tension you carry. I know, your boss/teacher/child/neighbor isn’t going to let go of his/her request. Your landlord and electricity company aren’t about to let go of their owed pay. The world isn’t going to stop because you need a break.
Except, think back to the last moment: it just did.
In the moment you chose to be still and feel free, the world stopped. In the moment you chose to take a deep inhale, the demands paused and waited for you. Nobody felt slighted. None of your obligations ballooned into insurmountable tasks. In that moment of silence, nothing bad happened.
You just were, and the world simply waited.
And doesn’t it feel nice
to know that you are in control – of how you feel, of how you respond, of the tension you carry? Doesn’t it feel freeing to realize that you are empowered by the simplicity of your breath?
Today, the Jewish people are eating in a Sukkah, a three-walled ‘shack,’ if you will, lined with a roofing of palm branches. As one of three pilgrimage festivals in the Jewish faith, Sukkot reinforces the simplicity of eating, the temporary in life. Our shelters can blow away. Our food is simply what grows in the field. In the Sukkah, we are separated from the material possessions of the modern world, and brought back to a zeman simchateynu, a season of joy, when our ancestors’ fields shared their yields. We can choose to worry about the challenging climate outside or the burden of carrying out our food, but instead, we empower ourselves. We rejoice in the beauty of what we do have, and leave the worry behind.
Yet, in our day-to-day lives, outside the holiday season, we all tend to forget our own power. We tend to clutter our world with interpretations of what we see.
She has a curled brow – that must mean she’s frustrated with how slow I’m working. He’s looking away; did I do something wrong? And the guy across the room is just sitting and smiling; if only I could be more like him.
We see ourselves as our weaknesses, the time as a deficit, our neighbors as a measure of compare. We place meaning in the wind when really, the wind just is. That woman just was. Our stories are just a product of our minds’ creation.
They aren’t reality.
And neither is our anxiety or tension or fear that we feel. Neither is that draining thought that we have so much to do in so little time.
I was reading a book, crossing out the words that ‘didn’t matter.’ And, in erasing the clutter, I found the gist of the story: “Beneath a tall man stood a shorter man and the two were surrounded by others.”
Now, that wouldn’t be the Blockbuster slogan on the back of a cover, but the simplicity of the ‘true’ story – and how I came to find it – carries important lessons:
(1) Change is hard – especially when, through the choice to change, we lose the option to go back. For the longest time, I would ‘cross-out’ words in a book with pencil, drawing only a line so I could see what used to be there, erase the marks and ‘go back.’ For the longest time, I wouldn’t even mark a book, ruin the perfection of the page. But then, I irreversibly marked the page, and I found my next lesson …
(2) In making a choice, we allow ourselves power. So much in life is out of our control. So much simply happens, and, in return, we respond. The response can be instinctual and follow our natural patterns of behavior – like not writing in a book, or only writing in the margins in pencil – OR the response can be daring, that choice we always wanted to make but were simply too timid to try. In fact, the choice that doesn’t meet expectations often challenges us most to exceed those expectations.
And, of course, in removing the extraneous detail of a story, I came to the most important insight of all:
(3) Life, at its core, is simple.
It’s not a stressful experience or a tiring string of days. It’s not a journey of working to live, or a challenge to experience the craziest and most beautiful parts of the world. Those expectations, like the author’s ‘clutter’ of words, are simply interpretations of what is really happening: there is a man, and a shorter man, and a lot of other people around them. What everyone is thinking or feeling, what emotion fills the air and what color paints the grass – those are choices that we can each make in the moment. Today, I choose rest to fill the air. I choose softness to paint the grass. I don’t recall what the author chose, but I am certain his world was much different from mine. I don’t know what you will choose, but I am certain your world, too, will be unique.
So think back to that thought of ‘having so much to do in so little time.’ What’s the gist of the story?
You have things to do. And you have time.
The adjectives you choose to paint that reality can either lead to simplicity and freedom or clutter and stress, but the choice and the power is all yours.
Reality is a funny thing
because no one reality actually exists. We place interpretations on interpretations on interpretations of the world, and somewhere in that mess, we find ourselves overwhelmed and toxically stressed.
So take a step back, return to the simplicity of your life, and make the interpretive choice that will suit your health and wellness best. After all, you are the author of your world.
© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.