“Evil is alive and well in the modern world, and it comes in the form of perpetual dissatisfaction.”
“Everything sucks!” he blurted out in a fit of frustration.
The question I had asked was “How was your weekend my friend?”
“Everything?” With a smile, I playfully asked question number two.
“It’s like this” he snarled as his face twisted in hostility.
“I spent over 300 bucks to take my family to a play in the twin cities on Frida,y and my mind was so jumbled with work, I couldn’t even enjoy it.”
That sounded terribly familiar.
“On top of that, my family got in a big argument on the way home because they say that I don’t know how to have fun anymore. I cannot believe I spent all that money on such a rotten experience.”
That too sounded terribly familiar.
I was curious, because most of my life had been spent living in a space that was too serious for my own good.
“Do I what?” he shot back shaking his head obviously still stuck in the car on his way home from from Minneapolis.
“Do you know how to have fun?”
He sat there starring for a moment, looking at me as if I had spoken in Japanese.
“What I mean is was this weekend a unique event, or a common occurrence?”
He let out a deep deep sigh and said, “Well you know, being a health care provider is so stressful, everybody pulling at you all the time. I guess I really struggle going from work mode to person mode. Life was so much easier when I was a kid my dad took care of everything…”
Now I felt like I was talking to a younger version of myself.
“I used to feel like that.” I said nodding my head in complete agreement
“Like ‘If only things would go this way’, or ‘If I just had more time’, and of course my personal favorite: ‘Why can’t the other person get off of my back?!?'”
“Exactly!!” he jumped in enthusiastically.
“All I’m trying to do is make a living and they jump all over me…” his thoughts began to go down a dark path.
“THAT’S IT!” I raised my voice like Charlie Brown in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. (I like how Charlie Brown sends Lucy spinning through the air when he shouts “That’s It” in response to her asking if he as agoraphobia.)
He head snapped back with a surprised look in his eyes.
“ALL YOU’RE TRYING TO DO IS MAKE A LIVING!”
His eyes opened a bit and I could tell he was waiting for the punchline.
“My friend” I said slowly and quietly “You forgot to make a life.”
Now his eyes squinted as if to say “Ummm…”
After a few seconds he asked hesitantly “What, exactly, do you mean?”
“When I was in my early 40s, I was stuck on life’s scariest question: ‘Is THIS all there is?’. Nothing ever made me truly happy. I changed houses. I changed cars. I remodeled houses. I decked out cars. It all seemed so terribly empty.”
“What happened?” he asked leaning in with a look that accused me of reading his mind.
“I discovered something that changed my life.”
He moved to the edge of his chair and motioned me to continue.
“I learned that it wasn’t out there, it was in here.” I said pointing to my own chest.
There was an eagerness in his voice that told me we were singing off of the same song sheet.
“When nothing else worked, I stopped looking, and all that was left was me. For better or worse there was simply me. As I stood alone one day, looking out at an empty field, then down looking at my two dogs, Belle and Jazzy, I had a shift in consciousness. A friend of mine had recently been killed in a car crash. I was feeling sad about her tragedy, so I decided to go for a walk, and I stopped to look out at this vacant field. I began to think about how this lonely field seemed to represent my life. I was feeling more than a bit sorry for myself when suddenly, I noticed that this vacant field wasn’t empty at all. It was lined with trees, it had tons of long grass, and I could hear the birds who lived there alive with song.”
“What happened then?” he asked.
Reemerging from the daydream I was having about the field, I continued “Suddenly I realized, all of those wonderfully intangible things we go looking for, like happiness, peace, and joy aren’t meant to be found. They are meant to be recognized and appreciated.”
“WOW!” he said as his eyes lit up.
“I began to look around me, and everywhere I went there was beauty and peace. I had spent 40 years walking around all that was instead of recognizing all that is. I went to the library and checked out a book about MINDFULNESS, and read it cover to cover over the next few days.”
“Mindfulness?!? I’ve heard of that I guess, but I don’t really understand what it means.” he wondered aloud.
“I think it means something different to everyone, but to me it means that I am a better me for others, if I am first a better me for me. So, I force myself to stop whenever I am afraid, anxious, or overwhelmed, and I make a conscious effort to experience everything around me with my senses as heightened as possible, and I make every effort to FEEL grateful for the blessings life has given me. When I do that well, the stresses and responsibilities seem to shrink back to their proper perspective.”
“That’s cool!” he said enthusiastically.
“Where would one start with ‘MINDFULNESS’?”
“I STARTED BY SUSPENDING JUDGMENT OF EVERYTHING!
I decided that nothing is good or bad. Everything just is. I practice simply experiencing the moment, experiencing myself and the emotions that arise, and experiencing others. When you experience without judging, you find that everything has it’s own beauty. God’s way-Not man’s way!”
“IS IT HARD?!?” he questioned hesitantly.
“Anything worthwhile takes effort” I said.
“But how hard is it when everything sucks?” I finished with a smile.
Our lunch was over and we agreed to talk more after he tried to “observe without judging”.
If you would like to learn me about how to “let go” and live better, I invite you to visit https://CoreyJahnke.com/contact and send me a message. I’m here to help you shine!!