What appears to be an inconvenience may well be a gift of presence.
I received the lesson today that what we often view as inconveniences are actually opportunities for slowing down, bringing us back home to ourselves, to presence, to the here and now, to our lives. When we view them as inconveniences, we are creating conflict with reality, an inherent rejection of what is, causing us to invite more suffering into our lives.
But what about traffic? What about catching the flu on the first day of work? What about pouring rain on a wedding?
We can make lists of what we view as inconveniences. I suppose an inconvenience is really anything that isn’t planned, that feels like it derails our focus, our timing. Certainly, unexpected situations are challenging, due to our aims to control life. So when they come, often our reaction is one of aversion. I can’t remember a time when I’ve come down with a cold and said, “Wow, this is perfect timing for rest!” Typically, when sickness arises, it’s right at a time when we have many things on our plate, and we feel we just can’t afford to stop. And typically, unless we’re literally unable, we keep going on with our routine, report to work, show up for whatever we had intended to show up for. And our body suffers from it, we suffer from it, suffer from being in conflict with the reality that our body is sick and needs rest.
I saw this recently happen with my dad. He had come down with a cold, but kept on keeping on with whatever tasks he had on his mental to-do list. He was starting a new job soon and felt like the time off that he had was precious and he had many things he wanted to get done before returning to work. But as he kept on working, his body took on more and more stress, perpetuating and worsening the state of his cold.
When we view sickness as an inconvenience, something that’s getting in our way, we create tension, aversion, with reality, instead of seeing the perfection of this situation. And we deny the communication that our body is giving us to slow down. I see this happen in my own life and in others’, this feeling that it’s just not the moment to slow down. But tell me, when is the moment to slow down? We are sprinting through our lives, trying to keep up, move forward, get on with it…for what? What’s the race we’re trying to win?
The truth is that we are not in control. That life is wild and will remind us of this in the moments we need to be reminded the most. What would it look like if at the next so-called inconvenience, you decided to pause and see what possible opportunity is arising? What if the next time you get sick, you decide that taking care of yourself and your body is priority, and you do just that? What if at the next arrival of traffic, you come back to your breath, grateful for this pause to come home to yourself, to breathe?
This, to me, is how we change the world, transform our relationship with life. Presence is here and now, and all that comes into our consciousness, our perspective, our life experience, is whole, complete and perfect.