Posts Tagged ‘consequences’

The presence of nothing . . . and everything

August 5, 2011

Nothing has to happen and everything will.

This phrase found me in the netherlands of meditation about four years ago. The Taoist wisdom in these words is both a marvel and a dilemma. Its infant implementation into my life currently exists of captured moments when I manage to stand still enough to note that nothing that is occurring in this moment has to happen, yet everything is happening. When I get to the end of each moment, everything has happened. There is nothing left that has not happened in its moment.

I get caught up in control: having to have certain specific events occur so that I can have a specific outcome. Moving past my physical survival and my human dependency upon water, food, shelter . . . all of those things at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I am sometimes absolutely frantic to make a specific outcome happen. For instance, I am always desperate to honor my commitments. I am particularly abhorrent to being absent for people who are dependent upon me for their well-being (I’m thinking children here and the occasional grown-up who has asked for a favor).

Practical applications of control include situations such as driving my vehicle, showing up for work, spending my money, and all that. What “has to happen” for much of my waking moments is that I survive intact, not harm others, do my job well, save for my future – all of the activities we call living. My continued breathing in and out must occur for there to be continued life within my body. But there is no rule that says my breathing has to happen for its own sake. In reality, none of these things have to happen. I don’t “have” to do anything at all. The motion of existence will continue regardless.

There are consequences to both action and inaction. In deciding what to do or not do, we all believe we can control the outcomes in our lives. We have a large history to support that belief. We witness the outcomes in other peoples’ lives, listen to their tales of how it happened, and sometimes apply their methods to living our own lives. That’s what self-help books are all about.

I have been testing the inaction of “nothing has to happen” in my life. Watching people I love stumble through their lives, it is so very hard for me to not interfere and try to fix them or their lives. I witness their behaviors, their attitudes, and I can nearly all the time guess what the outcome will be. There are formulas for success, I want to scream at them. But who am I to know what is best for them? Who am I to guess what their path should be? Some days, I note that even I have not always acted in my own best interests.

It is easier to spout wisdom than it is to apply it. I am working on unknowing what I believe I know. The place inside of me where nothing has to happen is wordless . . . a place where my preconceived ideas and worshipped fairy tales lie silent and useless.

If nothing has to happen in this moment, I am leaving space for something else to happen.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of decisions

July 10, 2011

The consequences of our decisions and actions (or lack thereof) follow us all of our lives. They might follow us into the next iteration of our existence. In fact, they might determine the next iteration of our existence. I am in a comfortable spot in my life. Not all is perfect, but I am basking in the enviable position of being securely employed with a good home and excellent health.

It is very easy for me to engage my 20/20 hindsight and review how I got to this particular point in my life. As I examine each of my decisions and retrace my steps, a few of them make me shudder. Others make me clasp myself in a hug filled with relief and gratitude. The one I am most grateful for these days is that I have a job to complain about.

I have family members who lost their jobs some time ago and currently live off the charity of others. Both are struggling to find a job. ANY job, they say. They fill out endless applications online nearly all of which disappear into the vast empty hole of cyberspace. Sometimes, though, an application gets a response and there is an interview.

They call me when there is an interview, voices trembling with excitement and an anticipatory joy. It is only an interview, but they sound as if they had just been invited to the prom. They ask: What should I wear? What should I say? What if they ask about this or that?

This or that are decisions these family members made that resulted in them being unemployed and nearly unemployable. They took actions which were not in their best interests. When they relate their woeful tales of how tough their lives are now, it is all I can do not to point out how they got themselves there (when I do, the conversation ends abruptly). I can point to the exact decisions they made – years of them. Instead, I recommend decisions and actions that would take good care of them now and in the future.

This process makes me more cognizant of all the thoughts and deeds I carry with me. What I think today has a real impact on where and who I will be ten years from now. What I do today may not make my life noticeably different tomorrow, but the seeds are there getting ready to sprout. It is the ultimate reaping of what I sow.

I have to go now . . . my life is begging for some water and fertilizer.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

the power button

August 11, 2010

I let what other people do and say take me outside of myself. It is the largest of my buttons and evidently so ginormously attractive that some people simply cannot resist taking a big swipe at it. In their eyes, I imagine that this particular button is shiny bright red and pulsing with the words “Poke Me Here!” And I seem to have an innate talent for attracting that kind of behavior from even the nicest people.

What I don’t understand is why, after they insist on poking the button, they act surprised and hurt when they get the reactive typical knee-jerk (well, in my case, it is more of a verbal rocket of words as loud and as obnoxious as I can make them) response. The part that I dislike the most is that I don’t feel good responding that way and would rather select a different response that keeps me feeling good about me.

I am of the growing and affirming belief that I came here to become more of who I truly am in my total existence, not just my current human existence. I came here with issues to resolve that get in the way of my becoming. Working through this button and finding a response that supports me better would probably inactivate the button. There is that nanosecond of awareness that someone’s finger is pushing my reactive button. Within that breathless space is my chance to make the decision to stay within myself and my chosen behavior.

I just need to be a little bit quicker to recognize it. I know the advice is that when I feel this button activate, I am supposed to stop, take a few breaths, and take a step away from what I might be thinking and feeling so that I can observe myself with some detachment. I heard some advice on the radio the other day. When someone pushes a button, and we are getting all geared up to hand them their heads, before we launch the assault, we need to pause and ask the simple question: “so what?”

What really are the consequences of the other person’s behavior? Especially, what are the consequences to me?

Lots of times, they are inconsequential. For example, in tennis if someone makes a bad line call and I lose a point, I can get extremely hostile. The reality is: so what? I lost a tennis point. I might lose the game. I might even lose the entire match, but so what? I don’t lose anything material. I don’t lose money. I still get to come back and play again anytime I want. My only purpose for being there is to enjoy my playing tennis. MY playing tennis. Letting someone else determine whether or not I enjoy my playing tennis is giving up my power.

Giving up my power has far harsher consequences than losing a tennis point. And I think that is really the lesson the button is trying to teach me: own my power.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass