Photo: CC Kris Miller
Fretting, freaking out and frittering away time. Getting too far ahead of yourself? Stay here, do this.
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST SUSAN BLOOD
There’s a Japanese proverb that goes something like “The rain falls hardest on the house with the leakiest roof.” I lost the book where I read the proverb, so you’re going to have to trust me on this one.
It’s one of those things that I read and, while I didn’t completely wrap my head around it at the time, I thought it might apply to me. I didn’t wrap my head around it because I didn’t have time to think about it. It was proverbially raining and my proverbial roof was leaking like crazy.
By the time I had a chance to mull it over, the skies had cleared. Ah, I thought, it didn’t stop raining. My roof is fixed. The problems and annoyances were still there, but they didn’t bother me. It all made perfect sense.
I had a blissful few months of no rain before things went haywire again.
Note to self: something’s all wet here
One example of the haywire is truly rain-related.
My car leaks a little and the electrical system took a hit. It behaved strangely, but was nothing to be overly concerned about. Dome lights came on inexplicably. Doors locked and unlocked themselves while I was driving. The thing that dings when I leave my lights on stopped dinging.
It’s that last item that stranded me with a dead battery, in the rain.
Fortunately, I married a tarp. I don’t think it ever rains on my husband. He’s an island of calm.
While he was en route to rescue me, I thought about what had happened. I knew it was a problem when I turned on my headlights in the fog on the way to work and I made a mental note to be sure to turn them off when I got there.
The problem with mental notes is, well, have you seen my desk? Notes go there to die. I had a million things on my mind and my “turn the lights off” note got lost in the clutter.
Fretting, frittering and hindsight
And clutter it was. Thinking back, all the things I had racing through my head were useless worries. I didn’t solve any problems, I just fretted over them. I would have been better served spending that time in the car preparing myself for the day. If I had done that, I’m certain I would have remembered to turn off my headlights and I never would have noticed the rain.
It’s hard to fix a leaking roof when we’re running around inside the house, relocating buckets. When it’s happening, it’s hard to see a way out of the loop.
Epic freaked out meltdown, anyone?
In this case, the self-inflicted mayhem continued as I freaked out about an appointment I would surely miss. A friend tried to jump the car, to no avail. AAA was an hour away. By the time Chris showed up, I had a new and even longer list of what was wrong in my world, including but not restricted to my missed appointment and possibly larger car troubles.
He hooked up jumper cables and told me to try the car, which didn’t start. He came to my window and said, calmly, “are your lights still on?” My car hadn’t started when my friend tried to help because in all my self-condemnation for being so absent-minded, I still didn’t turn off the lights.
A moment later, with the lights now off and the battery charging, my car started. I made it to my appointment, rendering all the worry yet another epic waste of mind-time.
One thing at a time. Stay here, do this
Being busy doesn’t make us prone to things like dead batteries, busying out our minds does. It’s tempting to say things like “I just have too much on my plate!” and blame circumstances for things going out of control. But we’ve all had the experience of watching things work out. We’ve all had days when everything goes right – to our own shock and amazement.
We have to take a moment to make sure our minds are ready to weather whatever the day may bring. We need to ground ourselves ourselves so we don’t get blown over and we need to fix our roofs while it’s not raining.
And if all else fails, we can always buy more houseplants to help catch the drips.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.