Tree of Life
It has been said that “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” Have you ever had a jolting experience which has brought you back from your thoughts and dreams with a crunching dose of reality? I finished a training last week and as I was leaving the picturesque hotel in the Suffolk countryside I managed, somehow, to reverse my nice new hire car straight into a tree. My mind was elsewhere but the tree wasn’t; it was in exactly the same place that it had been when I had parked my car near it the night before. So maybe I did really know that it was there, at least unconsciously but the unmoving tree certainly brought me back into reality quickly enough.
Sometimes we have experiences in life and we can be at a total loss as to what they mean or why they are happening at all. Have you ever found yourself saying “Why is this happening to me? Or “What have I done to deserve this?” The very first thing that you need to remember is that events are just events; they have no inbuilt meaning. It is actually you who attributes meaning to them; it is your choice as to how you interpret them. Now that is very easy for me to say and it can be less easy to do in practice. I can assure you that as I felt the jolt and the crunching sound as I backed into the tree last week I wasn’t sitting in the car thinking, “Well this is an interesting experience, how will I choice to react to it.” I think you could say I had a very standard, predictable instant reaction of disbelief and let us say self-criticism. But I could see straight away that I could not change the reality of what had happened and I most definitely couldn’t possibly blame anyone else for my situation. As I then drove the dented motor to London I did slowly assimilate my thinking into acceptance and decided to own up to the mishap when I handed the car back to the hire company on Monday and maybe learn to be more careful reversing; because after all it’s not the first time that I have reversed into something.
Also sometimes when we have experiences in life they are as important to other people as they are to us. On Sunday before I returned the car my daughter and her boyfriend turned up. She was annoyed with him for criticising her driving, the argument was soon forgotten when I showed them both what I had done to the hire car. I couldn’t have foreseen that my bump could have been useful to other people when it happened but in a small way it was. When I did return the hire car the following day I discovered that I was actually fully covered under the package that I had taken out and there wasn’t any excess to pay. So looking back now it was in a way fortunate that my own car was late being repaired, which meant that I needed a hire car, which in turn meant that I didn’t reverse my own car into a tree and from the incident maybe I can learn to drive a little better and my daughter and her boyfriend can maybe see their own driving skill in a different light too.
Events themselves are neutral, sometimes things happen and we cannot understand or appreciate their meaning when they do. Sometimes the meaning that we can apply to the events is only really describable at some future date. Cultivate in your thinking a sense of acceptance of the moment as it is. Know that though you may wish things to be different in this moment but that this moment is the way it is and the surest way to move beyond it is to accept it and choose how you respond to it. Experience in life isn’t what happens to you it’s what you do with what happens to you.
“When you struggle against this moment, you’re actually struggling against the entire universe. Instead, you can make the decision that today you will not struggle against the whole universe by struggling against this moment. This means that your acceptance of this moment is total and complete. You accept things as they are, not as you wish they were in this moment. This is important to understand. You can wish for things in the future to be different, but in this moment you have to accept things as they are.” Deepak Chopra