Don’t react!

Supposedly if you achieve an elevated level of consciousness you stop reacting to everything and merely observe:

“Oh look, that trash truck has just backed into my new car. Interesting.”

“I’ve been snowed in for a week and have been reduced to eating dried oats with tap water three times a day. I feel nauseous and weak. Interesting.”

“The band living next door rehearses every night till 3AM. They play only one song, badly. Interesting.”

“We’ve been here two hours and the waiter is serving everyone but us. Interesting.”

“I’ve worked at this job for 10 years but they just promoted someone less qualified instead of me. Interesting.”

“That car blew right through the crosswalk and would have hit me if I didn’t jump back. Interesting.”

I could go on. Now maybe you’re saying I’ve got it wrong with my examples, that no one is really expected to react so calmly to life’s injustices, calamities, and troubles, even those highly evolved people. That no one could. I don’t know – I mean, not reacting is not reacting, right? Sure, there must be different levels, but wouldn’t my examples, exaggerated as they are, be the ultimate goal, assuming you wanted to learn not to react? Minimally, the place the elevated person is reaching for?

It doesn’t matter in the end. I’m in no danger of getting so evolved. No danger at all. It’s (almost) all theory to me. Yes, I know a blissful, higher state of being is about achieving a kind of inner peace – an almost static state of mind – that no one and nothing can take away from you. No matter what happens, you remain steady & calm. By golly, I’ve read about it in books! Heard about it in lectures! And I’ll grant you, it sounds nice.

Even now and again, I catch a whiff of it. I’ll be in a state of mind where I feel fully connected to the universe, where nothing can bother or affect me, and I am fully in control of what enters and does not enter my consciousness. I am being not reacting. It IS nice. However, this state is rare.

Too often I feel like the ball in an old pinball machine, getting whacked here, ricocheting off there. To me the world is this stimulating, busy, chaotic-at-times place. If you’re participating and not holing up in the woods somewhere, there’s bound to be lots of stuff going on. Plenty of stuff to respond to. I’m tempted to add “some good, some bad” but that addition swings right back around to the idea that labeling things – events, occurrences, what-have-you – as good or bad sets up the stage to react.

I expect I’m in a bit of a bind. I make “value judgements” all the time, i.e., “that was good,” “that was bad,” “that was so-so.” Hell, I have these responses to pretty much everything, from casual interactions with a cashier to a band’s performance at a festival to my thoughts about a funeral I attend. And truth be told, I’m kind of partial to this thinking, making judgments about experiences. On the other hand, I realize that indulging these responses feeds into the constant reacting. Again, I’m kind of caught. If I want to be evolved and have more of those moments where I feel all Zen, flowing and peaceful – all nonreactive – I’d have to give up the desire/inclination to assess everything (which I know pretty much feeds on itself: Did I like this? Did I like that? Was it good? Was it bad? Do I want more of that? Do I want less of it? And round and round.)

I will add this. I really don’t come across other people who are all nonreactive. Oh, I meet plenty who talk about such things, who maybe can act as if they are all go-with-the-flow, but it usually doesn’t take too much to scratch beneath the surface to what the individual really feels. Yeah, I’m a tough audience. But it’s just that we all have more to gain from one another when we admit the truth about ourselves, not just what we’d like others to think, or just how we’d like to be (if only we could get there). I’m dead certain there are people far better at this than I am, and maybe, just maybe there ARE people out there who could respond the extreme way I described in my examples (surely the latter are rare). And I do believe it’s worth working on, being aware of all the reacting and whether, in every instance, it really serves anything.

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6 thoughts on “Don’t react!

  1. John Callaghan

    I’ve always found the persuit of a placid demeanor in the face temult to be perplexing. To have a resonable reaction to an event of significance is, to me anyway, the sign of a having a healthy emotional base. The attempt to rationalize, or reason yourself, out of something so organic strikes me as something unhealthy and exhausting. If everone practiced this there would almost no humour in the world as anger, humour’s foundation, would be eliminated.

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      People who are (very or overly) reactive don’t tend to be at peace. The point being the world is full of things to react to; controlling some of your responses is self-serving. Some humor is anger-based, I agree, but not all.

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  2. mariezhuikov

    I think Spock is a good example of nonreactivity (after all, he was too logical to have emotions). But that made the times he showed any hint of a reaction all the more memorable. Too bad it was all fiction!

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      True! But he only had half the human impulses to control. But I did love when his emotions were revealed because it told me how much whatever it was mattered to him – which wouldn’t be a bad way to be. Reacting to everything tends to lessen its effectiveness.

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