“And I Thought, This is the good day you could meet your love,
this is the gray day someone close to you could die.
This is the day you realize how easily the thread is broken
between this world and the next . . . excerpt from The House of Belonging by David Whyte
In this poem lies the tension for approaching reality, facing each coming day, each second that passes. What is around the corner, what is ahead, what is behind? Is it a friend or foe? Will I be okay? Will I be safe? Will I get my way? Will I succeed? Will today be different? Or will today be like every other?
If I sit long enough to let in these possibilities, if I’m honest I’m terrified. The feeling of terror comes from my past experience of encountering oncoming days, moments, people, experiences, joy, grief, success, failure. The feeling of terror intensifies as I realize how little effect I have of preparing myself for this oncoming reality and having any sort of control. When I do try to grab control, I have a track record of failing miserably–ending up just making matters worse. I don’t have a much better track record of letting go and simply staying out of the way. Either way of responding hasn’t made me any less terrified or happy.
Here lies the challenge for every human being setting their feet on this planet–what do I do with the next moment and the next moment, and the next moment after that? Do I run? Do I freeze? Do I fight? Do I make a plan? Do I curl up in a ball? Do I come out swinging? As many people that have been born, that is the number of different reactions there are to oncoming reality.
Deep down, when we let down our guard, let in a moment of quiet, we can feel the fear, or the anger, or the shame of the ways that we have reacted to that oncoming second, minute, hour, day, year, decade. The ways that we have reacted to life. Sitting still with those reactions is the only hope for changing them. Allowing my fear, my anger, my shame to stay in the same moment with me, is the only hope to be present with my life of reacting. To see myself and my reactions long enough to add choice to my reactions. Choice can turn a reaction to a response. With choice and a clear view, I equip myself for the unknown next moment.