There came a time not long ago, when I felt like I was on top of the world. My work was going well, my relationship even better – I had a spring in my step as I climbed out of bed each morning. I simply couldn’t wait to unwrap another excellent day.
But now it’s another story.
Today I am fresh out of minor surgery, which means I’m limping around with a black plastic ‘boot’ on my foot. I feel immensely sorry for myself. I’m also battling some age-old demons in my head as I launch my first novel in 25 years.
I feel vulnerable, weak and afraid.
So when am I going to get this right, this slippery, disorganized thing called life? When am I going to finally dissolve into that place on the horizon where money and health are abundant, the weather is always excellent, and me and my pals are relaxed AND have plenty of time to chat?
Oh yeah … that would be never.
Sometimes I just forget.
The Buddhists say this is one of the Four Noble Truths – the notion that there will be suffering. They even have a name for it: Dukkha.
Dukkha is all about craving and clinging, and wishing that things were any other way than they are at exactly this moment. And if I think long and hard enough, and listen to the sweet consolation of my love as she encourages me, I finally get the point.
Dukkha is actually a critical part of life. And why, you ask? So you and I can get over it, basically, and thus move forward. Which is another one of the Four Noble Truths; there is an end to suffering. We simply must do the work necessary to get there.
I’m not a practicing Buddhist and I’m sure I don’t have the subtleties right here. But I do know when Life presents me with one of her lessons.
The mad, deep fear in my gut comes from long ago. I had an ambitious father who wanted me to be a star, and a mother who was competitive, jealous and wanted me to stay in the background. They have been duking it out in my head for decades now. And the beautiful thing is that now I know when they’re at it again.
So of course I’m going to feel afraid about launching books and being in the spotlight. Yet, at the same time, here I am laid up and unable to move around much at all. So I have plenty of time to contemplate the blank screen, and chip away at my endless list of book promotion tasks.
They go together rather neatly, don’t you think?
It’s as if Spirit just couldn’t resist the chance the help me really live into that old fear of mine – and do something about it. Which is exactly the way I resolve such conflicts.
Where I’m heading is detachment; that divine state of nothingness in which I crave nothing more than doing the next right thing.
In such a simple, joyous place, I imagine I won’t feel beholden to any agenda at all. I’ll be in happy free-flow all day long, taking the path one step at a time. Do you know that essential place of bliss I’m talking about?
There is no second-guessing, no doubting and shame. There is no wallowing in stories, or peeved fist-shaking at the past. Instead, there is a simply, gracious focus on what is, right here and right now.
Oh … wait. I can do this in this moment. And actually, so can you. All we have to do is look at our fear and get clear on what it is – a ghost from the past, here to remind us to look elsewhere. And then we have to surrender to it. It’s a fact; There will be suffering. So why try to avoid it or feel sorry for yourself about it?
When I remember this, I can forget about the saga of my Achilles tendon and get busy creating the next right thing. I can take three deep breaths and refocus my attention as I choose, very intentionally, what to do next.
I can forget all about my little dramas and let the next moment unfold, held once more in the lovely grace of divine flow.
So what can you do right now to dissolve your own web of tension? What next right thing can you relax into?
I invite you to consider that this moment – right here and right now – is yours for the taking. So may this be your invitation to take it.