Day 74 - Not Minding What Happens.
I had a weird day yesterday. It was full of highs and some lows. That is not the weird part. The weird part is that I didn’t mind any of it. I was ok in all the moments not just the ones I liked. I, of course, enjoyed the objectively good moments more than the objectively hard ones, but I didn’t let them rob me from the enjoyment of my life.
It was a day kind of like that old story of the man with the horse.
There once was this villager and he had a horse. All the other villagers said “You are so lucky to have a horse.” To which the man replied, “I don’t know if I am lucky, all I know is I have a horse.”
Then the horse ran away. All the villagers said “You are so unlucky that your horse ran away.” The man replied, “I don’t know if I am unlucky, all I know is I no longer have a horse.”
Then the horse came back with ten other horses. All the other villagers said “You are so lucky to have so many horses.” To which the man replied, “I don’t know if I am lucky, all I know is I have ten horses.”
The man and his son used the horses to work the fields. All the villagers said “You are so lucky to have a son to work with you in the fields.” To which the man replied, “I don’t know if I am lucky, all I know is I have a son who helps me work the fields.”
Then the son fell off one of the horses and broke his leg and couldn’t work in the fields anymore. All the villagers said “You are so unlucky to have a son that can’t help you” To which the man replied, “I don’t know if I am unlucky, all I know is I have a son with a broken leg.”
Then a war came and all the able bodied sons had to go to war but not the man’s son due to his broken leg. All the villagers said “You are so lucky to have a son with a broken leg so he doesn’t have to go to war.” To which the man replied, “I don’t know if I am lucky, all I know is I have a son with a broken leg who cannot go to war.”
And it goes on.
I love this story. It is so amazing in its simplicity but so powerful with its impact.
Life happens and we ascribed meaning to it. The meaning we assert may or may not be tethered to reality. It is this ascribing of meaning that causes us to suffer regardless of the direction of the meaning. If it is something we label “bad” we suffer from the label and attendant circumstances surrounding the negative thoughts on the situation.
A little harder to grasp is that we also suffer if it is labeled “good”. We come to need to protect the good from the bad, so it doesn’t become the “bad”. This causes us to miss things. It causes us to see life in this series of events that are constantly being held up to the “good” or “bad” binary. Most people never get out of this. Like rats on wheel, they serve this not so benevolent God for the entirety of their lives. Most never see there is another way.
We can be the man instead of the villagers. He didn’t rise with the highs and lows of the circumstances of his life. He just accepted what was. He didn’t seem to mind what was happening and felt no compunction to label any of it. He didn’t ascribe meaning to things, he just accepted them as they were and then watched and waited for those things to change.
The thing I love best about this story is that all that was bad became good and all that was good became bad. It all switched, several times. And if I would have gone on with the story it would have switched some more.
I was a villager for a very long time. Seeing my life unfold and then allowing myself to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to and from the “good”/“bad” continuum. I could only be happy with the things I labeled “good” and the whole of my life was spent trying to avoid the “bad."
Yesterday I was the man. I saw my life take many turns yesterday. I went down first then up then super up then down, then really down, then really up and then down again. Finally I rounded out the day with up and good. Like I said, I had a weird day! What was completely different for me was that all those ups and downs, the “goods” and the “bags” didn’t alter each other. I enjoyed the “goods” as if they stood all alone. I weathered the “bad” and did not allow them to impact or steal the joy from the “goods”. Honestly, it was freaky.
I was so present for all of it that I didn’t really seem to mind what happened. There were moments yesterday where I was having one of the best days of my life. Then there were moments where I was provided circumstances to take that joy and decimate it. But I didn’t take the bait. I so thoroughly enjoyed each moment that I did not get trapped in seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. I just walked through my day, accepting what was and being grateful for it all regardless of how much I liked or disliked it.
Now I don’t know about you but this was pretty fucking revolutionary. When it came time to go to sleep, I had a hard time. I was thinking about both things and while one was happy and made me all nervous and excited and energized; the other one had me worried, scared and apprehensive. Each situation was pointed toward the “good” or the “bad”. However, this time, I could see the potential for bad in the good and good in the bad. Now this in and of itself is pretty revolutionary. But it didn’t stop there...I didn’t mind either one. I was neither overcome with happiness or despair. I just saw that there were some lovely things that happened and then there were some not so nice things that happened.
What this weird ass day provided me was an opportunity to be present in the moment. To not mind any of it. To just be there for the whole of my life and kind of laugh at the end of the day at how many twists and turns the day took. I did not feel compelled to chase the joy or run from the hard stuff. I realized the stuff that happened was kind of like the landscape and my emotions the clouds that passed over said landscape.
I climbed into bed, excited about the new and interesting situations and people who walked into my life yesterday and was curious about how it would all end up. I felt all of my many emotions fully and then went to sleep. I allowed neither the joyful or scary things to rob me of a good nights sleep. I awoke this morning feeling that all is right with the world regardless of how I feel about it or the way it all shakes out. That is a pretty incredible feeling. One that I have not had often. The best I can describe it is that it feels like I am standing on the bedrock of my own life, impervious to the shit slinging, emotional roller coaster of my own mind. I feel at peace on a level that has surpassed the need for things to be a certain way. I feel at home in myself while fully knowledgeable that I am likely going to behave like an ass in probably 15 minutes when I have to go chase the dog in the backyard or fight with my kids to get them out of bed. What is new, is that I really don’t mind. Any of it. Good or bad. I really do not mind what happens and that my friends is a fucking miracle.