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Archive for December, 2007

Source of inspiration: Plumbing mishap

So the year ends on an exciting note. A pipe cracked underneath my kitchen sink this morning. Water shot everywhere.

I panicked, of course. 🙂 But only for a moment.

Sitting there with my finger in the pipe–my tiny finger against the full pressure of the four stories above me–I did not know what to do. There was no way for me to shut off the water. And I could not think of a way to plug the hole so that I could contact Maintenance. I had two choices: sit there with my finger in the hole for a few days until someone came looking for me; or let the water pour out and flood the apartment while I ran to get help.

I took a breath, and I made my choice. And out the water poured. Into the hallway, into the living room, and it even made it all the way around the corner into the bathroom.

One thing I learned: most people in apartments do not answer knocks on their doors.

I was able to find one person who reluctantly agreed to help, and I went back to plug the hole with my finger. The maintenance man showed up (I don’t know if my helper found him or he just saw water pouring down somewhere and came to investigate), and he shut off the water to my floor.

As I write this, he is out getting what he needs to repair the broken pipe.

I can feel different forces within in me. One wants to blame me and show me all the mistakes I made that led to this situation. Another wants to create a story and lie about what happened to avoid consequences and embarrassment. Another wants to dwell on the victim story of “Why does this always happen to me?”

And then there’s a relatively new force that I notice in me. The one that says, “Just be with this experience.” Today, that is my practice. To be with this experience, fully in the present.

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Ah, resistance.

(How ironic–or is it perfect?–that today’s experience immediately follows yesterday’s post about flow…)

Today was the first day in my 100 Days of Peace that I experienced strong resistance to posting. The honeymoon is over. The novelty has worn off. I smile as I write this because the key to overcoming this resistance was for me to recognize that I’ve entered a new stage in this adventure.

With anything new, there’s an energy in the beginning that creates momentum. How many times have I started a new exercise program or some other habit? I go strong for a short while and then the excitement wears off and I stop, thinking that something must be wrong. It must be the wrong exercise program if I’m not excited about it anymore.

The key for me is to recognize that as natural. Stage one has ended. Now let’s begin stage two. And it’s important to note that I’m not saying it’s natural for the excitement to wear off. But where that excitement comes from will need to change.

So now that I recognize I’m in this new stage and I’m not quitting, I’m starting to get excited again!

This is just another form of Presence. I’m being present with how I’m relating to this 100 Days of Peace experiment. I’m not dwelling on the fact that it’s not as novel as it was in the past.

So this post is a reminder to myself to be present in this experiment.

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Today’s topic is interesting to me. Interesting in what it is, and interesting in how it came to be. It chose me more than I chose it.

Two of the things I did today were clean my bathroom and design a book cover for my collection of short stories. In both cases I didn’t think much about the task before doing it. I just kind of began and allowed it to unfold before me. There was very little thought of how long it was taking me or how much I’d done or how much was left. The doing got done because it was simply what I was doing.

And I didn’t recognize it as anything to even comment on until I sat down this afternoon to blog. I asked myself what my practice would be for today, and I saw that I’d already been practicing something very special.

What’s so special or important about this? Yesterday’s post was about two possible paradigms–one of obligation and one of opportunity. But in each of these tasks today, I was conscious of neither paradigm.

It’s hard for me to know if what I’m experiencing right now is even translating through these words. I feel free, I feel a flow. There’s no feeling of motivation or purpose or meaning. And there’s no resistance either. It’s like when I drop a stone to the ground. The stone doesn’t want to fall, it doesn’t choose to fall, it doesn’t resist falling; it simply falls.

Looking back on those two tasks today, it seems like I aligned myself with some force, just like the force of gravity pulled the stone to the ground. Was it the force of Presence? Was it a state of being that took care of the doing? Perhaps when I come from a being state of presence, paradigms are irrelevant.

It’s not a choice, it’s not an obligation, it’s not an opportunity…it’s simply what I do.

For the rest of the day, I will be aware of this flow that comes from being present.

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This morning I found myself at a loss for a topic to blog about. I noticed that the more I felt the need to be inspired, the less inspired I felt. I was creating pressure for myself. It was a paradigm of obligation that was shutting me down.

An alternative paradigm is one of opportunity. So I asked myself, what is the opportunity here? The first opportunity I saw was to use this experience of not feeling inspired as my inspiration.

Today I will pay attention to this dynamic of opportunity vs. obligation. And I will play with it. When I catch myself seeing something as an obligation, I will try on the perspective of opportunity to see how that feels. And, when I am seeing something as an opportunity, I will try on the perspective of obligation to see how that feels by comparison.

Another opportunity I thought of is the opportunity to use my previous posts in this blog as sources of inspiration. I’ve found that personal and spiritual growth is cyclical. We come back to our lessons again and again, each time understanding them at a deeper level. And each time that same lesson is richer because of all of the other lessons that came in between.

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A few months ago I stopped doing all but a few of my daily rituals–things like exercise, meditation, etc. I stopped because I noticed there was a strong feeling of “should” around those rituals. When I did them I felt like a good person, and when I didn’t do them I felt like a bad person.

Stopping them eased the judgment and allowed me to do them if and when I was moved to.

Recently I’ve found myself craving the structure of those rituals and routines. And this morning I did a few of them. I enjoyed it and experienced them as choices and not obligations. And I think that’s the key difference. Because I let them go and made it okay not to do them, I’m able to choose them now. (This is similar to the post on accepting sadness.)

Of course there was the knee-jerk reaction in my to judge and criticize myself for “slacking off” on my rituals. And a part of me wonders how much of a choice this was this morning, and how much was a mounting feeling of “should.” But even if there were moments of judgment, there were also moments of acceptance. That is new for me, so doing my rituals this morning was more of a conscious choice for me than it’s ever been.

In choosing the rituals, I acknowledged the power of structure in my life. Without making it a matter of good or bad, structure can be useful and fun. Just like we choose to arrange a room a certain way because we like it and serves a function, we can arrange our daily lives in ways we like and that are functional.

Today I will notice the structures in my life and choose to make a few key adjustments. And each day for the next week I will consciously choose those rituals and routines so I can experience the power of structure.

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Source of inspiration: One by Richard Bach

Last night I revisited One, and was struck by the idea of perspective.

It reminded me of a time several years ago when I ended a romantic relationship with a woman that I cared for deeply. I knew it was the right thing to do for both of us, and I did it. But in the days and weeks that followed, I found myself second-guessing that choice.

So each morning I would stand in front of the mirror and talk to myself. I was me from the future reassuring the present me in the mirror that he did the right thing, and to be at peace with his choice. All would be for the best, and even if he couldn’t see it from where he was, I (the future me) had the perspective to assure him that one day he would. And I still remember the day less than a year later when those two versions of me became one.

Today I carried that idea with me in the background. I can’t say that I remembered it consciously more than a few times. But it did help me see that some of what I think is so important in any given moment really isn’t so important from a different perspective.

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Source of inspiration: Exchanging gifts on Christmas

Christmas carries with it a long tradition of giving and receiving gifts. One of the things I watched this morning–in myself and in others–was how wanting affects the receiving. When I get a gift that I wanted, there is a lift. It is easy to appreciate the gift. When I get a gift that I didn’t want, there is an awkward blend of dissatisfaction and guilt over not appreciating the gift. And worst of all, when all the gifts have been opened and I didn’t get a particular gift that I really wanted, there is disappointment. If the wanting was strong enough, that disappointment can completely overshadow any appreciation I had for other gifts.

It may seem that the “problem” is one of not appreciating. But the “problem” is in the wanting. The wanting creates an expectation. And any gift that is received is judged against that expectation.

This is not just a challenge at Christmas, but a challenge in every moment, a challenge between appreciating the gift of the present versus wanting something in the future.

Today, I will practice appreciating the present. At the same time, I will create space around any wanting that I notice in me, relaxing around it.

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