Mindful living is easy on Easy Street—but keeping awareness to the forefront when it seems like a bird is pooping on your head every minute of the day is another thing all together.
When life sucks, our eyes have a pre-disposition to close or look the other way.I wasn’t raised in a gingerbread house, nor did blossoms sprout from the dry earth when my feet hit the trail. As an adult I was fired because my boss was sexually harassing me—well, before that became a no-no. Then I went through years of infertility, followed by severe post-partum depression after finally successfully giving birth and losing our house due to insufficient funds.
This is when karma sounded like a reasonable idea. I ran through the list of bad things I’d done, like stealing plastic fangs from the drug store, hating my little brother for being a boy, the many times I’d wanted to run my grocery cart over slow pokes and the time I pants-ed a sweet kid named Sammy in sixth grade.
Somewhere in the middle of my deserved reparation, it felt like me and my misdeeds had more than compensated for karma. After another decade of living hell, I figured even my past lives had been accounted for—unless I’d been Hitler or Genghis Khan. Which meant that the dude calculating the ledger book wasn’t paying attention or was intentionally screwing with me.
Now, I was put out about being picked on by the universe—kicking a sneaker toe on the sidewalk and shaking my fist at the sky. I spent a serious load of energy on feeling abused and unloved, until my “put her kids through college” therapist told me that life isn’t about fairness. She said that circumstances aren’t payback, karma or selected for an ass kicking—they just happen.
This concept was not welcome. In fact, it made me more enraged.
At least I could understand that having my very own black cloud made it more likely that sh*t would happen. It made me feel better to believe that my existence was terrible because an unnamed something didn’t like me or was adding things up wrong. Random things happening seemed like, instead of a gun shooting bullets into the sky, they were raining without a conscious hand.
Being mostly logical, I eventually conceded that random made more sense than the idea that life was bullying me—though it thoroughly uprooted my addiction to “woe is me.” My mindful practice began as a way to accept this awful, horrible, very bad concept.
Nature helpfully assisted, when the oldest of the heritage oaks on our property was hit by a bolt of lightning—splitting it in two. Staring at the tree carcass I realized something. Lightning strikes trees all over the world, all the time. The tree isn’t a target, it just happens. That oak rooted into the spot where karma once towered.
For those who struggle as I do with random bombardments of difficulties, I suggest that instead of forcing events into a karma box, become a tree.
If the sun is out, their leaves absorb the sun, while in a soft spring rain the roots nurse on the water, using the loosened soil to reach further into the earth. When a thunderstorm arrives, the tree doesn’t duck or cower—it continues to stretch upward inviting whatever life has to offer.
Humans are not having a unique experience on this planet. Nature offers us a way to comprehend what is incomprehensible. Trees swaying in a buffeting wind are a reminder that rooting into an experience is better than looking away.
Random acts of mayhem are the same as random acts of kindness and beauty. They are experiences that exist in the wide spectrum that are available in every moment. We are not cherry-picked for pain or doused with holy water—instead, our situations arrive without the accounting practices of an outside overseer.
A tree will adjust to sun peeking through a narrow opening by reaching up through the shade to leave it behind. The view is worth the walk in the darkness to arrive at the window.
Author: Deb Lecos
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina