Okay, so I made the same mistake today. I took a shower. Fully knowing that when I get into the shower I have no control over the meanderings of my mind. By the time I get out, I never know where I might be.
So today the end point was “All of life is a Schroedinger’s cat. For those not familiar with the thought experiment, Schroedinger places a cat in a box, under certain chance conditions where the cat may or may be killed by a device in the box. The device is activated by a certain random condition. You could almost substitute a flip of a coin. Heads, the device activates and kills the cat, tails nothing happens. He theorizes that at one point the cat is both alive and dead simultaneously. It is not until we open the box and look at the cat , that the cat becomes either alive or dead. So? What does that have to do with the price of gasoline? It turns, out everything!
We are constantly bombarded with events throughout the day. Good things happen, bad things happen, and things we don’t care about happen. When things do not go the way we want or expect, we feel like we are losing control of our lives. When this happens often enough, or with events that we really care about, it can become disproportionately overwhelming. There are a host of problems that can occur when we focus on the negative aspects of our lives, including stress, depression, fear, paranoia, destructive behavior, addictions, etc, etc. Put simply we let these events interfere with our happiness. Who wants to slog through life every day, as if we are just waiting for simple release of nothingness. What’s the point?
The truth is, events are not good or bad, they are simply events. The event has no design on you, it simply occurs. It is only when we look at the events, that we judge them good or bad. If you take an event and put it in a box and give the box to someone else, and tell them that there is an event inside, they will not be able to tell you whether it is a good event or a bad event. It is only when they open the box and judge the event, that it becomes good or bad. And it will only be good or bad to the person judging the event. To some the event will good. To some the event will be bad. Some will open the box and find the cat is alive. Some will find it is dead. So again, whats the point?
The point is, that knowing that an event is neither good or bad means knowing that we now have a choice. We can choose to view the event as good or bad. We can decide before or after we open the box whether the cat is dead or alive. We can even choose to bring the cat back to life so to speak, and all it takes to perform this miracle is to believe it. Sounds good. So all it takes is a little belief. And everything that occurs in my life is good. Exactly. I also have some land in south Florida for sale.
Ponder this for a moment. “Some of the best things that have ever happened to me, are the worst things that ever happened to me.” Sounds like dribble to me. Except for one problem. Its true. Every single disastrous event that has occurred in my life, has conspired to place me in this location, at this time, in this state of mind, for which I am truly grateful! Of course so have the so called “good events”. So how I got here today depends not on whether the event was good or bad, but rather on the amount of impact it had on my life. Although it is important to keep in mind that the sum of the multitude of minuscule events in my life is much greater than the sum of the greater events in my life. More on that later. But it is easier for me to look back at the greater events of my life and see how what I thought was bad, really wasn’t. The truth is, most events are both good and bad, when I use hindsight to examine them.
I agree, sounds like more dribble. So lets look at an example. My first wife, who I loved very much, was diagnosed with cancer. We had been together for nearly a quarter century. Subsequently, 13 months later she died from the disease. Who in their right mind could possibly consider this a good event. I certainly didn’t. I had no idea what life afterward would look like. But I went on. I found support, and I went through the grieving process in accordance with the textbooks and I survived. In reality I did much more than survive. I have a friend in Chicago who was constantly promoting the value of the book “The Language of Letting Go” by Melody Beattie. So finally I picked up a copy. I got home, opened it up and found that it was a daily meditation book. Oh great I thought, I already have 3 I read every morning, with this one I may never make it out of the bathroom. So anyway I decided to flip through it and see what it was about. While flipping, I landed on a page about acceptance. What I took from that page was something like “In order to truly accept something, you have to be grateful for that thing”. I thought, Oh great, my wife died four months ago, what the hell do I have to be grateful for? So I thought about it. I began to realize what I had to be grateful for. And looking today there is far more that I have to be grateful for. My wife’s unwavering faith throughout her illness taught me what true faith is about. Until then I had only a castaway’s desperate grip on faith. My bond with our kids grew stronger than ever before. My bond with the rest of my family grew stronger. My finances improved. And these where all short term results. Over the long term, I changed careers, met my new wife, moved to a new location, etc,etc. So I learned to have gratitude. Even for my wife dying. Does that sound backwards or what? But the simple truth is, it worked. This is only one example of the number of seemingly “disastrous” events that have positively shaped my life. Much of what I consider “good” today, would not be possible without the trials and tribulations that I had to pass through. So today, when an “event” happens in my life, I try to realize that it is neither good, nor bad, it simply is. And for each event I have the choice of making it good or bad, or neither. I wish that this was always my natural inclination, but I’m human. So sometimes it takes me a while. I have to constantly work at it. But this realization enables me to wake up each morning, not in a state of despair for my current condition, but rather a state of hope for what is to come.
So today I have a choice. Will I kill the cat, or keep it alive? Or both?