“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”
~~ Lena Horne
Today I am so grateful to know that I have a choice. So grateful that I have learned that I always have a choice. In fact, I’m betting that “Choice” will pop up time and time again in my writings this year. It’s important for me to remember that every day, every hour, I am faced with so many choices.
For instance, yesterday….
I got to work only to see a sign taped to the team lead desk.
6 or 7 DAYS
It didn’t even make any sense. But soon what everyone was saying was that we were back to six and seven days a week, 12 hours a day, overtime.
NO! my mind screamed.
And WHAM, for a moment, I was there! I saw it. I saw the next three weeks stretching out before me, the near endless hours. I felt it. Coming home almost weeping I was so weary. It was in Glorious Technicolor TM! Heck, I was exhausted just imagining it and the days (or even that day) hadn’t even started yet!
Then I remembered something…. Something I had learned over years of reading and classes and study and practice and experience.
What I was imagining wasn’t real. It was…just….imaginings.
Buddhist philosophy teaches this: The are Four Nobel Truths.
1) Life is suffering
2) We are the reason for our suffering
3) There is a way to end the suffering
And the Fourth Noble Truth tells us how.
Now to explain it in the way I understand it through a lot of study and classes and retreats.
In life there is going to be suffering. That is just the way it is. Everything from a stubbed toe to someone cheating on us is a part of that suffering. But the reality of that suffering is our reaction to it. We desire the impossible–that there will be NO suffering. We go to great lengths to avoid it including pretending we are not suffering when we are. Pretending that it doesn’t bother us that our lover cheated on us. That the pain of that stubbed toe isn’t all that bad. Or worse (and what we most often do) we PLUNGE into that suffering in full force and drama. We wallow in it. We talk about it all the time to anyone who will listen. We might even brag about how much were are going through, how much worse our pain is than everybody else’s.
Or we suffer because of what we don’t have. We weep and cry because we are single and decide that maybe it is just our fate to be alone. Or we stay with someone who treats us badly because we are so afraid to be alone. Better to be with someone who beats us or mistreats us or cheats on us than to be alone–which causes great suffering. Believe me, I know! I lived that one.
The reality of all this is that we can always choose to react to the bad with a clear and open mind and spirit. Of course stubbing our toe is going to hurt! There is suffering in life. So what do we do? We acknowledge that it hurts and we jump around for a minute and then we sit down and massage it and probably a half hour from now we won’t even remember it. And while it hurts, we remind ourselves that we’ve stubbed our toe dozens or hundreds of times in our life and it won’t hurt for long. Nothing is permanent.
We acknowledge that, yes, of course it hurts to be mistreated by someone we love or to find out they have cheated on us. Of course it does. We wouldn’t be human if it didn’t hurt. Denying it is ridiculous. But do we wallow in that pain forever or do we acknowledge it, feel in, and then go on? Make a choice to take care of ourselves. Tell the person in no uncertain words that it will stop. Or we get out of the relationship altogether.
We don’t let that pain rule us. That is not reality. And we certainly don’t do something like kill the person because that only causes more suffering, including what will happen when we are caught.
I closed my eyes, right there on the production floor.
I took several deep cleansing breaths and let them flow slowly out of me.
I reminded myself that nothing had happened yet and I had no idea what was going on and it made no sense to imagine the worst. To keep breathing. Say a few “Ooommmms” (or whatever works). To wait and see, but live in the moment, AT THAT MOMENT, and not a moment that hadn’t even come yet.
And that incomprehensible and nearly illegible scrawl? That sign was written by the night shift team leader. They have fewer on their crew. Maybe the six and seven days was only for them.
In the meantime, breath, work, don’t borrow any trouble, stop imagining the worst, stop creating something from my writer’s imagination that did not yet exist.
And guess what I found out a few hours later?
The note had nothing to do with my personal shift. I have some overtime but no longer the six and seven days.
So to think….I could have spent those hours in turmoil and anger and upset…over something that wasn’t even real!
And what if it had been real? I would still have been making it worse. I would have had the overtime, and my black and rotting reaction to it.
Thank goodness I didn’t do that.
Thank goodness I remembered that I HAVE A CHOICE! I have had and always will have a choice on how I am going to react to whatever is happening to me. Yes, there could be pain. But do I let that pain rule me? Or do I acknowledge it and then move on and through it? Because one thing I love about my age, I have proof positive, simple by looking back through the years, that nothing is permanent. No matter how bad it has been at certain time in my life, it gets and has gotten better.
I am so grateful that I have a choice!
Photographs; Roadsign by pippalou, Boardwalk Choice by MGDboston at morgueFile