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Submitted by Lawrence Grecco on Mon, 10/24/2011, 11:27am
Two weeks ago I almost lost someone whom I love very much. The phone rang as I was writing at my desk and it was a doctor I didn’t know telling me what had just happened. As I listened to the doctor’s somber words, I suddenly became hyper-aware of everything around me;
the sensation of my breathing as it went from slow and relaxed to quick and shallow, the pronounced thumping of my heartbeat, the texture of the phone as I gripped it hard in disbelief, and the glow of my computer monitor as it splashed against my trembling left hand on that dark and rainy day. Although I thought I had been concentrating so intently just a few minutes earlier, there was no escaping the fact that now I was truly alive.
There’s something about life-changing events that chain you to the moment. Running away is impossible and all you can do is be there one hundred percent, whether you like it or not.
There’s no way out when something ridiculously out of the ordinary occurs because the situation and circumstances are so urgent that there’s just no avoiding them. It’s like seeing a baby falling from a window--relying on your thinking “I, my, me” mind will result in a dead baby. It makes no sense to stand there scratching your head wondering what to do, or googling “what to do when a baby is falling out of a window?” on your iPhone.
Being completely present compels a person to put their arms out and (hopefully) catch the infant safely before it hits the pavement. No thinking required, just responding to life spontaneously and appropriately.
Experiences like these have a way of cracking our hearts open. We don’t have the luxury of deciding what does or doesn’t happen in life, but our choice and our practice comes in when we decide what we do with whatever is going on around us.
From this point forward I could either grow more fearful of losing someone, or I could deeply appreciate that this person is still around and be grateful for how incredibly lucky I am and how lucky they are, even if that isn’t abundantly clear to them just yet.
We mustn’t waste any aspect of our lives, even our suffering. To resist our suffering and see it as a distraction from our path is a mistake. To view suffering as an opportunity to give meaning to our pain and to develop a deeper sense of compassion for others is the right way to go.
We don’t have wait around for urgent situations to come up before we begin to access the part of ourselves that’s always present and capable of doing what life truly calls for. By practicing consistently we train ourselves to override our thinking minds and allow a sense of wisdom to emerge so that we can help other people in the best way possible.
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by Alison G