Or, we can’t know until we know! How do we get to the calm place in the center of chaos?
Waiting for news of anything—from sources we have no control over, which is just about everyone and everything that is meaningful—can be excruciating.
Will we get the perfect gift or the job? Do we need surgery? When is the right time to ask ______? How long will ______ take? Will it be successful and what we want? Is this it?
So we wait uncomfortably and we worry.
I was once riddled with worry and wanting to know the future. I’d consult Tarot cards and psychics and shrinks. Then I’d look ad nauseam at my past for clues as to why something was happening now and what would happen next. All of that had its value, but at one point I decided I just had to stop and be where I was, feeling whatever I was feeling, and embrace all that my life was offering, as it is.
Only then could I be happy. Only then could I love. Only then could I be loved. And accept the gifts and the challenges and the messy, gorgeous, wondrous nature of living and breathing.
At this time of year, expectations, excitement and extreme moods can run amok.
And even if you don’t have a practice of returning—moment by moment—to your center, to the calm breath within, to your true and guiding nature, you can start right now—even in the midst of chaos.
Take a deep breath. Close your eyes for a moment if you can. Take another deep breath. And another. Then open your eyes and see the jewel right in front of you. I won’t tell you what that is because it will be different for each of us. Sometimes it’s tangible, sometimes not. Sometimes it lies within us. Sometimes it lies within a loved one, or a stranger. Sometimes it’s so simple and grand and blinding all at the same time that we might miss it.
Once you find it, don’t hold on! Just let it go. There will be another in the next moment. And that is the wonder that is there for us if we just, in the immortal words of the Beatles: Let it Be! And that is our fountain of ever-present and everlasting calm.
Here is a story from the Buddha that I share with you this holiday season that describes it so beautifully.
A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.
Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted.*
So, notice and enjoy all the strawberries that your life brings to you and let the mice and the tigers simply be mice and tigers.
*From Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, by Paul Reps (Anchor/Doubleday)