“Wisdom is like rainwater - both gather in low places…” Dalai Lama
I had a dream the other night where I ran into someone from my past. He said a string of offensive comments, and I reacted with pure anger. Feeling justified in my rightness, I verbally unleashed a brilliant stream of thoughts with the intent to dent his spirit.
It was a dream. None of it was true. None of this happened.
But I found my vitriol was almost more disturbing than any other part of the dream. As I lay there in bed in the middle of the night, my chest hurt and I couldn’t talk or breathe my way out of this feeling.
So I did what I do in moments when I’ve tied myself up in knots: I reach for another thought that is bigger than the one I am experiencing. I look for something to widen my perspective. I say yes to something else.
That night, it was The Book of Joy.
Here is what diverted my attention:
“…we are all the same, ordinary human beings… of equal and intrinsic value… While we may not be special, we are essential” Archbishop Desmond Tutu
“…we must look at any given situation or problem from the front and from the back, from the sides, and from the top and the bottom, so from at least six different angles. This allows us to take a more complete and holistic view of reality…” Dalai Lama
“… the recognition of our own limitations & weaknesses can be very positive. This can be wisdom. If you realize you are inadequate in some way, you develop effort.” Dalai Lama
Each one of these ideas was much bigger than the content of my dream. My body reacted immediately with quiet, and I slept really well for the rest of the night.
The entire experience turned out to be wildly productive. It sparked a new idea for the next session with a client; it gave clarity on two upcoming workshops; it answered some questions we’ve been grappling with regarding the company; and it was an opportunity to practice distanced perspective…
(To be clear, I wasn’t aiming to deny, avoid, or make wrong how I was feeling – I just wanted to sleep. I could circle around my thoughts like a buzzard, or swap out one thought for another that slow my heartbeat.)
As I’m writing this, a memory comes to mind...
I vividly remember my first professional audition in NYC. It felt terribly important because I had no health insurance and this role would gain me enough weeks of work to get me credit through the actors’ union for the coming months. My agent had gotten me the call, it was in the Equity building in Time’s Square, and it was a role I’d recently played… it seemed possible. As I turned the corner into the tight hallway where I was to wait, my breath caught in my throat. It was the first time I’d seen so many strangers with a similar look and quality to me. And as the actor-chatter rumbled about, it became evident every single one of us waiting outside that door had played the role… No one was special. No one had an edge. No one was in competition with one another, we were all viable options…
There aren’t really words to describe that moment when I realized I am not special in a way I thought I was. But when it happened, it was a gift. To recognize not one of us is above or below another. To have a wide enough perspective to appreciate others, knowing we are all equal, worthy, moving through life one moment at a time… To know each of us is here, adding something essential...
The dream was helpful. A reminder of my true nature, that anger is a choice that disturbs the self more than disrupting or changing anything external, that an equal playing field already exists. We just have to know that is the reality in the larger universe... right now... even though some may be play by other rules they made up because they're choosing something different...
Standing in barefoot in a rain puddle, reaching for a different thought.
always in motion,