Tag Archives: responding

Don’t react!

Supposedly if youĀ achieve an elevated levelĀ of consciousness you stopĀ 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.

I’m a “borrower”

I study people. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. Before I consciously knew what I was doing. This trait could stem from a number of factors but at any rate I’ve become highly aware of it. One aspect is that I am often fascinated by how other people do things. I want to know if they’ve figured out a way of being or thinking or doing that I’d like to incorporate. Sometimes I watch and think: Wow you can do that? I hadn’t thought of that. So I borrow.

I dated a man years back who, when asked a question be it by me or someone else, didn’t immediately answer. He took his time and formed a response. It didn’t seem ignorant or designed to be somehow passive aggressive, but just his nature. By contrast, all my life when asked a question, I hopped to in an effort to immediately answer it. I still tend to go that way but realized there’s no particular requirement to do so. It’s quite possible that a man can get away with taking his sweet time in responding more so than can a woman, but just seeing another way was so useful to me. Huh!

In recent years I’ve been on a serious kick of de-cluttering. I don’t mean to say I ever lived in squalor or had piles of junk in every room. No, I just hung onto collectibles and old birthday cards and more than a few things that might be “useful” one day. (It won’t surprise you to learn my parents were this way and then some. QuiteĀ then some.) So I’d begun to rethink all of this. I read books and took ideas where I found them. About 2 years ago I saw a garage belonging to a woman I know. And it was all but EMPTY. It contained basically a CAR. That empty garage became imprinted on my psyche. I wanted an empty garage. And I don’t even have a garage. Or a car for that matter. But you get the idea. Well, I hope you do. My life is a lot more like that empty garage now. I have plenty of stuff but I don’t have too much stuff.

When you are sick, I learned, make dinner in the morning so it’ll be there waiting later when chances are what little energy you had that day is spent. Long ago a former neighbor mentioned this and I am invariably sorry when I forget her clever idea.

When I was younger, I knew a man with 10 years on me who started exercising routinely. The men in his family he said, with a lone exception, had all died by 40. He didn’t want to join the Dead Under 40 Club so he committed to making exercise a part of his life sooner rather than later – or too late. Although at the time with the perspective of youth I gave little thought to an exercise routine or the notion of dying before 40, this man’s words (and those of author Covert Bailey which echoed them) made a deep impression. I started exercising young and haven’t stopped. (And just so you know he did see 40 and is alive today.)