Anyone with a brain can torture themselves. It takes heart to find peace.
The sweet autumn sun was making its slow descent in the sky while random shouts of joy and laughter peppered the air at the school playground. Kids were racing happily around; climbing, jumping, playing… being kids. I was just saying goodbye to one little guy and his mom when I heard violent retching.
Oh no…it must be past 5 o’clock!
A quick glance at my watch confirmed that yes, indeed, it was 5:01 pm. Shoot. Anna’s mom was late again.
The simple fact that her mom was tardy was not a problem for me. Anna was a precious, big eyed, bright hearted five-year-old whom I loved. She was super silly and very smart—so smart that she knew how to tell time. And Anna knew that her mom promised that she would pick Anna up at 5 pm every day. Her mom did the best she could to get there by five, but sometimes traffic would happen, or she would be delayed leaving her office, and she would miss the mark by moments. On occasion, those moments stretched into minutes.
For many other kids, those minutes, be it 2 or 22, would pass by without their knowledge. After all, the end of the day was the best part of school; free play with all of the kids together! The children were oblivious about the time. They would get so engrossed in what they were doing, that many were disappointed when their parents came to get them, and would have to be told several times that they needed to leave.
But not Anna. The moment the clock struck five, sheer and absolute panic ensued. She would start to cry, hyperventilate, and wail until she gagged. Throwing herself into a complete frenzy, she would throw up, again and again, tearfully shuddering with terror.
No words would console her, nor any amount of hugs, love or touch. No sleight of hand or distraction could remove her focus from the “problem” at hand: it was after 5 pm and her mother wasn’t there. She must be dead. I tried everything: secret treats that I stowed away, little games I invented just for her, talking to her while she was upset or even trying to discuss this all before 5 pm rolled around. Nothing worked. Anna was absolutely certain that something terrible happened to her mom, and she would never see her again. Her belief was so strong, it played out in her body, wracking her small frame with sobs and gags and horror.
Meanwhile, all of the other kids continued their merry play-making. The sweet sun kept shining. Birds were chirping. Everyone was perfectly safe and very happy. Lovingly, tenderly, I would entreat Anna to look around and see this…to feel what the truth of the moment was in her body. She was safe and her mom was on her way. Anna just couldn’t. Her eyes became shrouded in dark clouds of fear, and this fear was all she could see. It reminded me of that Robin Williams movie, What Dreams May Come, where Robin’s wife was stuck in hell and he was trying to show her that it was all her own creation and she could step out of it at any time.
It didn’t matter if we would call her mom and have her talk to Anna, reassuring Anna that she was okay and on her way. It didn’t matter how many times her “dead” mother would magically appear, successfully alive after all. These facts didn’t enter in as evidence to Anna that the future could be trusted, based on her past experiences. No…Anna would treat each incident as a brand new horrifying singularity. My heart would break for her and for my powerlessness and inability to show her the world as I saw it, as the other kids saw it, as we all knew it to be.
Despite all of those negative aspects for both Anna and myself, today I am so grateful for all the experiences we shared together. I have never forgotten the powerful lesson she unwittingly but brilliantly taught me.
We create our reality. We create our joy, our fear, our health and our sickness from the thoughts we choose to believe. Those thoughts, they can be true or they can be false, but in either case, our level of peace lies with the choice we make about which ones we will align ourselves with. When we do that, when we claim our thoughts, they become our beliefs, and our beliefs create our reality.
All emotional possibilities are always available to us at any given moment. We have them all inside of us, at each and every moment. This is why we could be super happy, but feel this underlying current of anxiety, or we could be in deep mourning, but deep down feel a tickle of joy somewhere inside ourselves. We are the great container of these precious life juices we call emotions, and we can pull them out on a whim, simply by choosing what thoughts we focus on. These thoughts don’t have to be real. All that is needed is that moment when we decide to identify with them and call them “our truth”.
This has been my work. It’s super fun to watch myself elicit emotions from my being. With awareness, I’ve become a master expert at this game. So when I’m not enjoying the emotional state I’m in, I just shine my light on what I’m thinking, and ask the question “what other thoughts are available right now?” Several always pop up, some a vast improvement from where I was, so I grab onto that and let the other one go. And instantaneously, my world has completely changed.
We can spend our afternoon puking or playing. In either case, the sun is still going to shine, the birds are still going to sing, and we really are all safe.
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