Peace is Every StepThich Nhat Hanh
I had an incident today where I really lost it. I snapped. I’ve had a bunch going on, a few things already contributing to that bucket of stress, then this little nuisance arose. Well, it started as little and then incubated to the thing that clearly tipped my balance.
Trust me, it is a bummer to be spending the majority of your day focusing on peace and how you might attain it, and then to observe yourself losing it in a fury of f-bombs. The lesson today was: the only thing you really have control over is how you respond to things, and you may not have control of that, either.
In brief, here’s what happened; I checked on a registration situation yesterday morning and was told I was all set. Then I got a call end of the day that I wasn’t. The messenger of this news was extremely apologetic. I, on the other hand, was on a walk in the woods with my dogs so, I breathed and when I got home I did what I had to do to deal with it, and moved on. It was a scramble, but done, or so I thought. The messenger was apologetic. I was cool.
Then today I took the required papers to the office. Again, the messenger was apologetic. I said she needn’t apologize again. Then, when I went to pick up the papers I had dropped, I was told there was a problem. Again, everyone was apologetic; trip number three I started to get mad. Quite frankly what was on the line was my daughter’s ability to return to the school she left behind three months ago for a term abroad. I needed to prove we still live here and apparently, the tax, mortgage utility payments were not evidence enough. And my phone bill from five weeks ago was not current enough.This got me.
I started to swear and said, ‘you know what, I am going to go home and write an email and address this thoroughly and rationally,’ which I did. It took me a while, and made me late for my next appointment on a day I didn’t have an hour to spare. And just as I went to hit the send button, the person who was at the root of this situation called me. (What timing!)
She started into the problems with my documentation and, when I say I lost it, I mean: I. Flipping. Lost it.
The beast was unleashed. And the more I said I am not spending any more f-ing time on this the more time I spent getting hysterical about it. I kept saying I am hanging up this flipping phone and then I kept needing to get one more f-bomb off about how mad I was at this person for creating flipping chaos and not having any flipping discernment. I used the f-bomb as a verb, a noun, a pronoun, and an adjective, multiple times, in varying tones of quiet and craze. It was an 1812 overture of f-bombs….
But here is what I learned. We each have a capacity for the ridiculously frustrating and the inane. It IS like little drips going in the bucket. Today, it put me over the edge.
It took me about an hour to shake it off but boy, the blood pressure shot up and adrenal wreaked havoc in my body for about 30 minutes. I decided afterward I needed more self care, or radical self care as many teachers call it. (I think it’s radical because it is so counter culture to take to recognize when we need to slow down. This is a stupid flipping pressure we put unto ourselves. (Lame.) Whatever, I clearly need more of it to balance my load.
My meditation teacher happened to call me later in the day, and when I answered that I was feeling a bit fried, she asked me what I was doing to care for myself. I told her I was “being mindful” and adding in some exercise, enjoyment and meditation where I could. In fact, I had carved time out recently to ski and get a massage. She told me all those things were important but maybe I needed to do more to take a little pressure off, or drain that stress bucket, if you will.
She then made me tell her four things I was doing to nourish myself. We discussed exercise and food, for nutrition and enjoyment, and bodywork, and laughter. And then she said I had to come up with one more thing that fed me, that I was committed to doing. I said that despite the amount of time it was taking, once I settled down from my householding ruminations and procrastinations, that writing this blog a great joy. And it’s true; writing and reading inspiration nourishes me. It is my meditation.
Elesa says we must avoid unnecessary suffering. This has confused me in the past. Her teacher is Thich Nhat Hanh, who is a Buddhist, and The First Noble Truth in Buddhism is that life IS suffering, so avoidance or acceptance, I didn’t understand. Today, I did.
Nuisances and stresses, humongous and gnat-like, are our reality. Life is hard, and full of challenge. There is no place you arrive at where you can finally put your toes in the sand and be responsibility or pain free. That’s the initially depressing sounding “First Noble Truth” of Buddhism. But, take it a step further. The process of finding beauty along the way being grateful, enjoying life, breathing, communing with nature and God, listening, meditating, praying, being in community, caring for others and doing the same for ourselves is the way out. And resting, (1/7th of our days.) And that is the last Noble Truth: that there is a path to enlightenment/ heaven/ heaven on earth, and that path is mindful living.
Similarly, Jesus said ‘I am the way and the truth and the light.’ Live in my peace, follow my example, my mindful ways, and you will find peace.
It just takes returning to that practice, before and after each f-bomb explosion. What is your practice? Your meditation? And what are you doing for self care? Ask yourself, and then add it in as much as you need. (Be generous!)
This poem is from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace is Every Step, The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. It helped me. Especially the last two lines.
Peace is every step.
The shining red sun is my heart.
Each flower smiles with me.
How green, how fresh all that grows.
How cool the wind blows.
Peace is every step.
It turns the endless path to joy.