Sunday, October 09, 2005

A thought about resistance

Recently, I had a thought about resistance -- to what is.

Resistance has its rewards - as when you're lifting weights. It builds strength. And certainly, in the face of evil or wrongdoing, resistance often helps bring about change and the overcoming of that evil. I'm think of Jesus and Gandhi and Martin Luther King and and their tradition of non-violent resistance.

But I think that, emotionally, resistance is the cause of much pain. My friend and I were speaking about this recently, and it struck us that our suffering is often colored by resistance and a fixed notion of what ought to be.

Let's say you're gardening, and you've spent most of the morning in beautiful sunshine. Suddenly, in the middle of your work, it begins to thunder and a hard rain starts to fall -- no mere shower, but the kind of weather you need to take cover from.

So how do we react to the storm?

My habitual thought process goes something like this:

I have two whole flats of flowers that I still need to plant, and, even if this rain stops in 10-15 minutes, I will be late for lunch that I've planned with friends -- and, suddenly, all that I had planned to accomplish for the rest of the day must now be postponed for another time.

The rain is plainly an inconvenience. I become angry and frustrated.

But what if I were to accept the rain...simply take it for what it is? And I'm not talking about even arriving at the higher state of acceptance & thanks for the drink of water it brings to the earth...but just pure acceptance with no judgement.

Further, what if I am able to change my notion of what ought to be, in this case, that I should be able to accomplish all my tasks in the alloted time I had initially given myself? False deadlines; naive scheduling.

What if I am able, then, to create another reality for myself? It may be as simple as this:

The rain has begun; it seems time for me to put the rest of the plantings off.

No judgement about the rain. No assumption that the rain should only come after I have completely finished putting the impatience (ironic?) in the soil.

I can first have sympathy for my disappointment...and even feel a sense of pity for this reaction that has welled up in me. But I think that I can try to gently say goodbye to this resistance and drop my notion of what ought to be. Chances are it will not rain forever; the sun will shine again.

This is the recipe for happiness in gardening...and in life, I believe.

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