The River –
“Imagine yourself sitting on the bank of a river. The river is your stream of consciousness. Observe each of your thoughts coming along as if they’re saying, “Think me, think me.” Watch your feelings come by saying, “Feel me, feel me.” Acknowledge that you’re having the feeling or thought. Don’t hate it, judge it, critique it, or move against it. Simply name it: “resentment toward so and so,” “a thought about such and such.” Then place it on a boat and let it go down the river. When another thought arises—as no doubt it will—welcome it and let it go, returning to your inner watch place on the bank of the river.”
#ThomasKeating, “Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel”
One of the greatest and most difficult realizations is the truth that we are not our thoughts. We are not our actions. We are not our egos. True, each of these can reveal things about us and to the world but we are not these things.
The problem is we’ve been taught the opposite most of our lives. The famous quote; “Reap a thought, a word, an action, then a destiny,” seems right but our thoughts do not have to lead us to who we ultimately become. We can choose to go deeper, change paths, refuse to be captive to our thoughts by breaking free of them.
Today, while working out, I began to think of someone I haven’t thought of in a long time. It was a song that started the flashback. The memories began emerging and it wasn’t long before I began to feel the emotions, experience the memories and time melted away. It was almost as if I was back in the place, with the person and struggling. This person and I had a difficult relationship. There are times when two people don’t mesh. Sometimes there are reasons other times there are not. The pairing produces negative results, hurt feelings, harmful actions, and regrets.
I was thankful my anxiety didn’t take me too far down the road. There are times when my anxiety disorder goes into high gear and I can’t turn my thoughts off. They keep coming and it seems I am at their mercy. Today, the flashback was only a few moments and I was able to move on.
Though unexpected and unwanted the flashback was a good reminder that I have put a lot of distance between what was then and what is now. Most of the pain has vanished, the hurt feelings healed, the memories and experiences seen differently. The person is no longer my adversary but a fellow sojourner trying to find their way home on another path.
A few nights ago I began watching a documentary; “American Anarchist” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6032170/). It is “the story of one of the most infamous books ever written, “The Anarchist Cookbook,” and the role it’s played in the life of its author, William Powell, now 65, who wrote it at 19 in the midst of the counterculture upheaval of the late ’60s and early ’70s.”
An interesting, frustrating, and paradoxical character, William describes a time in the 60’s and 70’s when he is swept up in the protest movement of these two decades and writes a book that is both a declaration against an unjust society and a “how to” manual on building, bombs, guns, and other weaponry. Powell’s book has been used all over the world to commit acts of terror and revolution. However, after the turbulent time in which the book was written, Powell moved on to become a teacher of students with special needs.
In the documentary, he is surprised and saddened when confronted by his book’s place among many terrorists and criminal’s library. He’s even contacted some major book sellers and tried to stop his book from being sold. In most of the interview, he seems at a loss that this book, which took him only a few months to write still holds sway over him after almost 50 years. He wonders if he’ll ever be free.
Some poor choices we make are able to be overcome and put behind us. Other decisions, and their consequences, are ours to carry for life. Who we are, what we do; our thoughts, words, and actions have lives of their own once we choose to enact them. As always, we must choose carefully.
A couple of friends had a “garage sale” or “yard sale” this weekend. For one of them, it was the first one she had ever done.
As someone who’s worked in the nonprofit world for many years and who’s done many yard sales to raise funds for one cause or another, I found it hard to believe she had never participated in one before. I think that tells me more about me than it does her. I like these types of sales. Especially when you feel like you have found a treasure in the midst of what the owner thinks is disposable stuff. I have never found a lost “Mona Lisa” or “Rembrandt” but there have been some deals I came away thinking I had gotten a lot of bang for my buck.
I like these types of sales. Especially when you feel like you have found a treasure in the midst of what the owner thinks is disposable stuff. I have never found a lost “Mona Lisa” or “Rembrandt” but there have been some deals I came away thinking I had gotten a lot of bang for my buck.
The truth is most of the stuff we own is made to be disposable. I read a wisdom quote the other day; “The only thing we truly own is our actions.” In other words, it’s how we treat others which define us.
At the end of our journey, when who we are is sifted from what we have will our lives be revealed as treasure or trash?
Bad Mood –
I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I didn’t realize it at the time. I woke up, fixed my coffee and had breakfast, got ready for church, went to a worship service and when it was over ambled to the truck and waited on Beth who had stopped to talk with someone. When she came outside she said; “You’re not in a good mood.” “What makes you say that?” I replied. She then listed things I had done, or not done, since getting up. I’d let out several exasperated breaths at different things which aggravated me, sat with my arms crossed during the worship service, complained sharply about a remark someone had made.
I was only looking for one or two things not a list of almost everything I’d done since pulling off the covers and putting my feet on the floor several hours ago! However, I couldn’t disagree with any of the items she listed nor could I argue with her conclusion that I wasn’t in a good mood. “You’re right,” I said to her. “I’m not sure why, it’s not you, but I haven’t been in a good mood today.”
We went home, had lunch, and took naps. I’m not sure my mood is any different now but at least I am aware enough to watch my thoughts, my tongue, and my actions. Not being in a good mood isn’t bad, or a sin, or negative. It should, however, make one more vigilant about reactions to what happens around you.
Bad moods happen to everyone. How well we adjust to, handle, them is the difference between being in a bad mood and having a bad day, week or life.