“It’s easy to be a naive idealist. It’s easy to be a cynical realist. It’s quite another thing to have no illusions and still hold the inner flame.” ~ Marie-Louise von Franz
It is the weekend before Christmas, and I am in the middle of dealing with a multitude of frustrating, seemingly impossible situations. Small problems add up, too many, too quick, creating a cycle of trying to address a larger problem before the one before it is solved.
Is that the actual definition of stress?
There is a reason the saying ”when it rains, it pours” is so popular. It’s completely true!
Somehow, we seem to attract a certain kind of situation in multiples. It’s like the story of the hero who had to open three doors only to find a worse-looking monster guarding the treasure in each.
In the story, the hero keeps his (or her) calm. He doesn’t open the next door before the problem before it has been solved.
I found out it’s much harder to do that when I am the one actually standing before each problem. My instinct is to turn and deal with something else.
Because more often than not, the monsters I am facing are the responsibilities I didn’t take seriously at another time when they weren’t about to have me for dinner. When it was, perhaps, just an afterthought in a long line of things on my to-do list—easy to put off, too easy to neglect.
For example, my phone not charging, from one day to the next (and, it would turn out, permanently) without hope of recovering contacts. In my case, all business contacts essential to keeping my business alive—gone.
Reminding me a little too late of the importance of backing up my information, whether it be phone, tablet or laptop.
And this after recovering from a week-long illness I ended up healing with natural remedies, even though it wasn’t the wisest choice for me. Being more time-intensive, this remedy put me in a position of either having to work feeling awful or losing money by canceling on clients.
However, having neglected to apply for health insurance like I’d meant to, I had no other options, since I could not pay for a doctor’s visit out of pocket.
Added on to the illness and the no-phone fiasco, there comes the real McCoy: a malfunctioning septic system. In the middle of one of the coldest winters I can remember. Right before the holidays. And it’s a nightmare. I mean, the worst possible scenario of sewage backing up into my bathroom, flooding my house for days, rendering me unable to use both my bedroom and my bathroom. It takes the plumbers five days and several attempts before the worst of it is stopped.
There isn’t necessarily anything I could have done to prevent this. I live in a very old building in a neighborhood of old houses, old plumbing and building codes that are only updated when, well, things like this happen.
It did remind me of the importance of having money saved in times of unanticipated stress. It reminded me that living within my means, and having a little extra just in case, is nothing to frown upon.
As it were, I did not have money saved up. I spent my extra money this year on items I did not need and luxuries I could not really afford.
As I am now forced to sell at a loss some things I bought and look for ways to make up for this lost income, I am reminded that most everything does happen for a reason.
And, more likely, that reason happens to be a lesson—and perhaps a blessing—in disguise.
This is mine.
About a month before all this happened, I made a decided effort to begin and sustain a regular meditation practice.
One of my favorite meditations, and the one I do almost daily now, is by the recently passed Dr. Wayne Dyer.
In this guided meditation, he reminds me that, ”no matter how hard I resist, I am responsible for everything that happens to me in my life.”
Once I began a serious practice of meditation, the inevitable happened: a sequence of events, not unlike the one I just experienced, confronting me with truths about myself, how I choose to live my life and where and what I choose to prioritize.
I believe this is why I have often given up regular meditation in the past, after a few months. It is not the maintaining of discipline that is the problem; it is how it brings me closer to my true nature.
Perhaps my nature is not quite yet the beautiful land of splendor and joy I imagined it to be. Perhaps the three-headed dog I am always so quick to spot in the lives of others is actually quite active within myself.
This time, maintaining a relationship with meditation helped me own the hand I have had in contributing to the negative effects of events when they unfold.
It taught me that taking responsibility, not shouldering blame, is a way for me to meet inevitable times of change with ease and grace.
It is the reason I am able to look back and write about my failure to hold myself accountable, on more than one occasion, when I had the opportunity to do so.
It is teaching me that responsibility happens before, during and after an unanticipated event; at each stage, how we take responsibility shapes what is to come.
I can now look my own shortcomings in the eye and acknowledge that I am responsible for a series of decisions leading me to this very point in my life.
I can acknowledge that what I do with this information now will shape my months and years ahead. It is the most important lesson I have learned this year.
No matter how hard I resist this truth, I am responsible for everything that happens to me in my life.
(With deepest thanks and gratitude to Dr. Wayne Dyer for his guidance, even from beyond.)
“How can I know anything about the past or the future, when the light of the Beloved shines only Now.” ~Rumi
Author: Nastassja Antonia
Editor: Toby Israel