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December 11, 2012

“How can you manage change so that it doesn’t manage you?”

So reads a line from one of my old therapy ads. But it’s something I’m still learning myself.

And change can happen fast. I notice this with my mood, my life, the world.

A little tilt one way or the other in the way I view things can make all the difference.  Which is why I try to watch my thoughts, especially when I start falling into a vortex of fear-catastrophizing-obsession. (As my meditating friend says, “Don’t believe everything you think!”) Because such thoughts, negative or positive, contain an energy all their own, and so can tend to influence my behavior and therefore events, creating a self-fulfilling, self-perpetuating spiral up or down.

Beyond this, I’m learning that once I’m aware of my thought processes, it’s all a matter of choice. And that that choice can be flipped by the subtlest of shifts.

Take my fretful thoughts that can pop to mind about Shelley, for example, and how, with her health and all, our little paradise could all end tomorrow. I can quickly shoot down those rapids into a sad and scary sea, or I can catch myself and flip it: Oh! These thoughts must mean I’m feeling how precious my life with Shelley is right now!

All at once, you can awake from a daydream you hadn’t known you were in, to find you’d steered into the wrong lane  and onto the wrong exit, so you slam on the brakes causing the car right right behind to smash into you sending you careening and in 10 seconds your life course is altered for the next 10 years.

Or you could stumble into luck, and wind up fat and happy without ever knowing what it was that got you there. It’s control —  that’s what we lack.

Life’s a vulnerable thing. We have little choice about what happens to us, but every choice about our response.

Like when I stumbled into the luck of meeting Shelley after I’d all but given up on women, and just went with it because I felt I could use a break in the battle.

So far, the break’s lasted 12 years.

(Actually, I don’t believe in “luck”, unless you go by the definition of “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”. I’d been dating and preparing for her for 8 years.)

Or like last Thanksgiving. I was having a great time at my brother’s house until I fell into a bad funk after an argument at the dinner table with one of my nephews. I went to bed there all sore, and then the room was too cold, and something I ate made me pee all night. I was a heap of under-slept misery by morning. Next day I decide to call my nephew to clear things up, we return home, I eat some dark chocolate, Shelley looks at me with those big eyes and puts on some Buddha Lounge and the next thing we know we’re hitchin’ a ride into horizontal heaven.

There’s a planetary mood as well, and it can shift just as fast – actually, it’s doing just that. Which is why when I read the news I tend to connect the dots that sketch a second Eden rather than the ones that point to disaster: Because again, optimism or pessimism, hope or despair have energies of their own, which can influence how we act, which in turn can create results that fulfill either vision.

For instance, I could say Oh My God! Soon they’ll be replacement parts for every damaged body part, and drugs that will heal cancers! We’re about to break through to a new world!

Or I could say, Oh My God! We’re headed over the Fiscal Cliff! The Middle East is exploding! It’s December, 2012, and there’s only 10 days left till the end of the world!

Or the beginning.

God says, “You want to know if there’s a heaven or a hell? Hah! You’re in it!”

(Is this how God speaks? How the hell should you know?)

Just a little shift in seeing the glass as half empty or full can tilt the world. (You can even tilt that phrase: Oh so the glass is only half  empty…)  And how we view the world can tilt us. For example, I can think in terms of, “How can I transform the world?” (Oy!) Or else, “How can I be a part of a world that’s transforming?” (Ah!)

For me I think the key might have something to do with what the Buddhists call the problem of attachment. Attachment to getting what I want, or not losing what I’ve got.  “Pain is inevitable; suffering is not” I’ve heard them say. I think that means that the suffering arises from the belief in or attachment to the idea that “I’m not supposed to be in any pain”.

I know this post may feel like a jumble of ideas. That’s because I’m in mid-tilt myself. Check back with me in about 15 years; I should have more clarity by then.

Meanwhile, grok this:

Producer’s “Vanity Card” flashed on the screen after “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and A Half Men”  — November 26, 2012:


I’ve been told that if you change your mind, you change the world – or at least the way you experience it. Let’s take a moment to examine that. The presumption is, if you thought the world was a hostile, ugly place filled with awful people doing awful things, that is what you’d see. Your mind would naturally seek out confirmation for its preconceived ideas (e.g., if you’re intent on buying a red car, as you go about your day you’ll see lots of red cars). If, however, you were able to sincerely change your mind and see that we are all God in drag, that we are the conscious aspects of a perfect universe which had to create us so we could bear witness and stand in awe before its loving magnificence, then that is the soul-shaking reality you’d be greeted with each and every moment of each and every day. In other words, it is entirely our choice as to what kind of world we live in. With a simple decision, we can suffer in the darkness or play in the light. We can be angry, frightened and enslaved, or loving, joyous and free.

I know. It’s a toughie.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 18, 2012 2:57 am

    I think you can get yourself into trouble with either overly optimistic or overly pessmistic thinking. I’m a firm believer in objective reality: I think we will be happiest in the long run if we face reality. Both excessive optimism and excessive pessimism distort the truth, ie, objective reality, and when you can’t grasp reality, in the long run you’re likely to run into walls.

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