When Things Break

I suppose it is inevitable that all things will break, but when many of them happen at once, I begin to wonder, is there a message for me?

Recently, I’ve experienced a sequence of events that has both surprised and upset me. First, it was my car. It needed over a thousand dollars’ worth of repairs. I guess I ought to be prepared for this, since it’s almost ten years old, but once I got it home, it made a new noise and had to go back for more repairs.

Then it was our new storm door. The mechanism that allows it to stay closed malfunctioned. It took several weeks before it was fixed. And, then our new computer lost its mind requiring all sorts of adjustments before it would work again.

I thought we were done. You know the common thought about things coming in threes. But not so. Yesterday morning I woke up to a very cold house. I hadn’t switched over from summer to winter, so I moved the thermostat button to the ‘heat’ cycle. Nothing happened. No beautiful furnace sound delivering warmth to our house. I investigated, only to find a blank digital computer screen on the unit. It had power, but wouldn’t and didn’t do anything.

After numerous calls, we finally managed to get a technician to come. He diagnosed the problem and relayed the remedy to us. We needed parts. He told us they would be ordered on Monday, three days from now. Then they would have to schedule an appointment to complete the repairs. Translation- no heat for several days.

Many thoughts ran through my head. And many feelings ran through my body. On one level, I find this string of events to be very frustrating, and certainly inconvenient and expensive. But I’m curious too.

Do they mean something more than what they are, a collection of occurrences that could be random? Is there some inherent value in them for me? Is it worth my digging into their depths to see?

I wonder first about what feelings they bring up in me. So, I allow myself to open and accept whatever comes to me. I’ve discovered that when I do this, I am able to release whatever I no longer want to keep inside. But, I have to see it first though. And I have to realize that even though it is difficult to be honest with myself, it is always worth it.

So here goes. I wonder why this is happening TO me. It doesn’t seem fair at all. I wonder, did I do something to deserve these things? It occurs to me there may be more events to come. Because there are four, will I have to experience two more to end the second string of three things.

I note my level of anger and frustration and it becomes obvious to me that I am looking at this from only one direction. I could just as easily ask myself a series of other questions.

I have beautiful, wonderful things in my life. I have a car, a door, a computer, a house and so much more. So many in this world have none of these things and may never have them. They don’t have enough food, clean water, fresh air, shelter of any kind, people who will help them, a place to call home, a family.

My questions and concerns shift abruptly. I begin to express my gratitude for what I have and release those feelings and thoughts about what I don’t. My heart opens wide and breaks for all those in the world who have so little. For them abundance means a bite of food, a sip of water, a tarp to sleep under, a kind word from someone, from anyone.

I live in such privilege. I have so much and yet am concerned and afraid when some of it fails to work. I see that much more clearly now. Beyond shifting my attitude about this, I wonder what else can I do?

I know I can’t fix the whole world, but I don’t want that to stop me from trying to fix what I can. So now, each time my focus is drawn to something that doesn’t work in my life, I’m going to shift my attention and decide what I can do to help others. I know there are an infinite number of things that can be done. So I’m going to let my gratitude lead the way.

Casting Rainbows

I’m usually sitting at my desk in my home office by 6:00am. When the sun comes up, it hits the windshields of the car passing by my house and sends momentary flashes of blinding reflected light into my eyes. It doesn’t last more than a second, but the glare is so incredibly bright that it’s painful.

This is another of those situations in life that seem so simple to fix. I could merely reach over and pull the shade down. Problem solved. Except that this also shuts out all of the beautiful sunshine. And considering the length of our winter and the amount of shadows we’ve lived with, especially over this last year, I can’t make myself do it.

To be honest, my first reaction was to feel a bit angry and wonder why it had to happen this way.

Fortunately, I’ve learned that if I’m at all patient, another idea will follow as to how to solve the problem facing me. And it did.

It was wonderful and a total surprise.

I imagined being able to pull down a thin translucent sheet of material that would act like a prism, casting gorgeous rainbows all over the wall in front of me. So beautiful.

I thought to myself, I need to figure out how to make this real. I want rainbows instead of blinding glare in my life. I know I’ll find a way. I’ve discovered this about myself. Once I shift my perspective, new things become possible.

It’s the way my mind works, or perhaps it’s my heart, but once a shift happens, an idea or question will pop up in front of me. One did.

“How could I turn other things in my life, that I find painful, into something I find beautiful…radiant, even?”

I thought about this for a while. What challenges does this pose to me? What challenges would it pose to you?

The first challenges to arrive were these; major world conflicts and disagreements between factions, mistreatment and oppression by those in power, religious intolerance and political ideological disputes. Those seemed kind of big to tackle right away. Maybe I ought to start with something easier and work up to these.

Okay, how about, simple differences of opinion, small acts of dishonesty, saying unkind things to each other, failing to meet expected standards and thinking less of others and more of myself.

Perhaps these were smaller, but it seemed just as difficult to see how I could turn them into anything beautiful.

The more I thought about this, the more obvious it was to me that, the closer I come to disliking another’s position, the closer I come to disliking them personally. And there’s the glare, the blinding reflected light flashing into me…’I’ve made it personal’.

Every time I do this, I find that I suffer inside and the distance between myself and others grows.

I’ve made us separate. It’s them and me. We’re apart because I’ve chosen to believe they are what they say or what they do.

I have to stick around long enough and remind myself, it’s not who they are.

I have to ask myself, can I stop a moment and see who they are on the inside? Can I find some thin translucent sheet to place between us so I can see the rainbows they cast?

Yes, this is the hard part.

I have to go inside and remember that we are all one, made from the same source of love. We cast different shadows and see different lights. We’ve been raised and trained to see different paths.

Why is that?

Could one answer be that our life is enhanced when we are encouraged to look beyond ourselves? When others views are meant to expand us, to foster dialogue between us and to create harmony out of discord?

Imagine if we could be open enough inside, willing to talk without our opinion having to be the conclusion, willing to see others real needs, willing to honor other’s lives.

And, perhaps the most important aspect in all of this, is to realize I can not change anyone else, I can only change the way I view the world and relate to it. Seeing this clearly is a wonderful thing.

To me this creates beautiful rainbows…radiant ones even.

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