Over the last week or so, the lives of many of those around me seem to be spinning out of orbit, in both positive and negative ways. A friend ‘s cancer is inoperable, another falls from a ladder and breaks his spine, one lands their dream job, one gains a prestigious award, one books her travel to Katmandu, another finds out they don’t have the diagnosis they dread, another’s son flies to half way around the world… all around lives changing direction in both meticulously scripted or in completely surprising ways. All illustrating that extensive planning can change your life – and so can a random moment in time.
A slip, a stretch, a meeting, a moment – these can be as momentous and life changing as something that takes months or years of strategizing. How then can we be prepared for both? Or perhaps the question is how can we learn to accept both types of event with the same degree of commitment and compassion?
I recently read F**k it – the Ultimate Spiritual Way. It’s an easy read yet seriously intended guide, distilling the wisdom of many religions and practices into some fairly basic lessons, centering on acceptance (hence the title – if we can genuinely accept whatever occurs in any specific situation, we can basically say f**k it to worrying about the outcome, and enjoy whatever comes our way).
I read it, liked it and then completely forgot about it.
Then everything around me started to twist and turn for those around me, lifting them off their feet and up in the air, and the contents of the book snapped me straight back into focus.
I have plans and dreams and ideas, and I intend to work extremely hard to make them happen. And that’s ok. But at the same time, I need to allow for the possibility that they may not – and that’s ok too. Other things may happen, not better or worse, just different.
If you read my posts regularly, you’ll know I’m taking Alexander Technique classes. Don’t drift away – there is a synergy here. Alexander talks about stopping. Of just being in the present moment and being consciously responsive to it:
Life presents us with thousands of different inputs throughout the day: experiences, sensations, thoughts, words, memories. They can come from the outside world or arise within us. Each of these is a stimulus, and we will react to each one.
With Alexander Technique we learn a different possibility: how to move from unthinking reaction to conscious response. Stopping is critical, because unless we truly stop then we carry all our old habits with us as we try to be different in the future. They are always there, ready and waiting to tangle us up.
So last night in, the middle of all the unfurling news of the lives around me, I chose to stop. I opened the blinds and looked at the amazing full moon instead. I stopped reacting to everything immediately and gave myself a chance to catch up on how I was feeling.
For all of my friends, this is the best I can suggest. Just let yourself stop for a minute as you are right now, with whatever you are with. Whether its good news or bad, whether your life is going to plan or taking a radical new path. Take a look at the moon tonight and see how you really feel just as you are now – then the choice is yours. Toast the moon, howl at it, just give yourself a moment to stop first.