|Photo: S. Dawn Sievers|
Some will argue the point that we have even a modicum of control over our lives. Many will say that we are merely pawns of cause and effect, being tossed about on the tides of chance and Fortune. I don't deny the school of thought that there are fragments of chance that affect us all. I think a great deal of the beauty of life is what we perceive as the unexpected. If Life were all neatly planned out and responded to tidy lists and projections, I think we would all be a very dull, bland bunch. Getting back to my point, though, I believe we have choice in everything. I believe that even that which we perceive as an "accident" is something that has come to us, that we have invited and allowed in order to learn and grow. Call them surprises, if you like - the moments that throw us off kilter and force Life to shift in the blink of an eye. By their very nature, surprises force change, so they are an integral part of life for us all.
Can we control when tragedy hits our horizon? When someone we love leaves us, whether through death or the end of a relationship, can we control this? Can we control losing a job that is needed to pay bills and keep a roof over our heads? Of course not. The only thing that we can control is how we react to a given situation. I have said time and time again that we are defined by how we choose to react to Life. We define ourselves by the choices we make and by our subsequent actions. When negative moments hit, dismay, anger, sadness, grief and a boatload of equally negative emotions are there at the door, waiting to set up housekeeping inside us. It is normal and healthy to feel all of those feelings, honor them, process them. Dwelling in those negatives indefinitely is not healthy, and we all know this as a sure truth. We can remain apathetic and downtrodden, as this is a conscious choice. Or we can choose a different reality. There is no shame in this process taking a while, by the way. Healing and growing has a different time table for each of us, and will also vary per the situation and circumstances. Being kind and loving to ourselves during this part of the process is essential.
As I write this article, 2012 is ticking down to its final days. It is human nature to reflect on the waning year and take stock of what we experienced. Looking back on my own Life Path, I note a year that was challenging on several levels. It was interspersed with beautiful moments, yet I found myself focusing on the sadness as I reflected. I didn't like sadness being my immediate perspective, so I began to ponder. I began to ask myself why I was coloring this year in sadness, and the answer is that I am currently going through some personal experiences that are not what and where I want them to be.
That's when the moment of epiphany hit my fair self. If I were driving a car, I would have hit the brakes to come to a screeching halt, it was such an "A-ha!" moment. That epiphany moment was this:
Life is rarely what we want it to be.We all know this, yes? This wasn't news to me, obviously. It just popped into my mind in a manner, and at a crucial moment, that woke me up and shook me out of this current gray stage I've been inhabiting. So, I repeat: Life is rarely what we want it to be. We also...most of us, I would think....have come to the realization that when we do not get that cherished wish, it is a blessing in disguise. Sometimes we DO get that cherished wish, but it is delayed. The timing simply hasn't come to fruition.
So, I pondered. And I contemplated. And I turned my thoughts over and over, considering options that would shift how I have been feeling. In doing so, I came to another moment of epiphany.
What is at the moment is not what has to be in the future.I think I want that statement on a t-shirt. I mean it! That statement flowed from my fingertips effortlessly, and as I read the words back, I am struck by the profound truth of the thought. I have it within my ability and power to create a new version of what is, and I am able to do this, create this new version by choosing my thoughts, feelings and perceptions. I can choose to release limiting thoughts. I can choose to believe that what is, at this moment, is necessary for this moment, but it is not necessary for the future.
I was perilously close to creating more of the same sadness and negativity for my immediate future, by the very act of focusing on it and mentally bewailing what I perceived to be infinite. That's where I slammed on the proverbial brakes. 2012 brought a great many lessons for me. It was not an easy year, and I do not throw those words out lightly. It was, however, a year of learning on levels that I hadn't been privy to up until this point in time. I wasn't ready for those lessons until now. They weren't for the faint of heart, and I managed to weather them with a certain amount of Grace. Those lessons, the Big Ones, the ones that delivered big wallops of wow, they're not finished. I recognize that there is more to be done there. More to learn, more to absorb, more to embrace, more to share, more to live.
So, I shifted my perspective. I stopped pouring regret into my current experience, and I began to pour appreciation into who I am as a result of those lessons. I released frustrations, regrets and resentments, as those are three of the most self-defeating, crippling emotions that I have ever identified. I am pouring appreciation and anticipation into the immediate future where all is possible. This may sound very overly optimistic, perhaps unrealistic. To the contrary; I believe it is vitally necessary to be aggressively optimistic and to ignore more of those self-defeating words/thoughts such as "unrealistic". Being happy and fulfilled is never unrealistic. How we choose to address that need, that dream, that expectation....that is the important facet.
Consider what a facet does in a gemstone. It is designed to reflect and refract light...to bounce that light in multiple directions, to multiply it and create a light storm that is dazzling to the soul. A simple, flat plane gives finite reflection and a flat, one dimensional view. I consciously choose to create that light storm with my thoughts, with my perspective, and in so doing, provide conditions that are limitless for that light to amplify, to expand in all directions. And in the very doing, the very choosing, I felt an instantaneous lifting, a lightening of my Spirit. A weight literally lifted from my heart. Feeling better, reaching for that next best good feeling...these are Divine and Universal Laws. That which we focus upon, we amplify. That which we amplify, we invite more of into our personal experience, and it becomes an exponential act. This amplifying applies to both positive and negative emotions - this is a key fact for all of us to remember! If we dwell in negativity, it amplifies and sets the tone for our immediate future. I certainly see the logic in focusing on positive emotions, expectations, dreams and wishes, as those are all what I choose as the set points for my immediate future. Feeling better feels better. So simple, yes? It can be, but we have to choose to allow it first.
I am like most people in that I've experienced a couple of moments in life that fall into the category of clinical depression. I know what that disordered chemical imbalance does to the thought process. I know how dismal and dark the whole world can look and feel to anyone going through that level of depression. I know the irrational thoughts that are processed that, at the time, make complete sense as they're being thought. For whatever reason, I was either blessed or cursed with a stubborn character that refuses to let me completely give up. Even in the midst of the worst depression episodes I've experienced (there were two - one hit when I was 19 and the other in my mid-30s), I knew in my heart that they would pass. This is when the aspect of impermanence becomes one of the most valuable tools we are given as human beings. When we view a single life span, it is so fleeting. From that perspective, that life truly is such a short span of time, there is hope to be gleaned from the canvas of impermanence. "This, too, shall pass" is one of the most loving, reassuring statements to reflect upon when the world feels permanently dark and sad. Our free will to choose is there, waiting for us to remember the power we are granted from our very first waking moment.
Those moments of epiphany are powerful, either as a sudden clap of thunder or as a soft brush of insubstantial mist drifting by. It might not be that slamming on of proverbial brakes, big wallop of wow moment for you as it was for me. I tend to be a bit more hard headed than some, so it occasionally takes a bit more force to grab my attention. For some of you, the epiphany may come as easily as your next breath slipping into, and out of your body. The very slight shifting of perspective is simply powerful, regardless of its delivery, and it all narrows down to choice. Choosing how we want to feel. Choosing how we want to think. Choosing how we want to view a set of circumstances. Choosing how we want the tone of our life to resonate. It might be different for each of you, this awareness manifesting. Easier said than done, of course, but oh-so-powerful when we come to recognition and embrace the choosing.