During my walk this morning, I decided what I wanted to write about here today. Then I saw this photo on Facebook, and it fit into my topic perfectly.
One of the things I have learned from reading Buddhist literature is that one of the reasons we suffer is that we don’t handle it well when things don’t go the way we have planned.
This morning was a perfect example. When I left the house to begin my walk, it was 35 degrees outside. Most Floridians seem to think that anything below 50 is “too cold” to be outside, so I assumed I’d have the street to myself. I started down the street enjoying the cold, crisp air, the clear sky, the sound of birds chirping as they began their day.
Then I saw that my next door neighbors had begun setting up for a garage sale. Almost instantaneously, cars began coming in a steady stream from both ends of my street, honing in on that yard sale like flies on potato salad.
I got irritated. Why did they have to spoil my walk? Why didn’t they watch where they were going? Why did they have to park on both sides of the street? Why did they pull back out into the street without looking? Etc., etc., etc..
I was really into being resentful of all these people spoiling my experience. After all, it was MY time to walk, and I wanted MY peace and quiet.
And then I remembered, from my reading and practice, that I’m not the center of the universe, that things hardly ever go exactly the way I would have them go, and that getting upset about those people coming to my neighbors’ garage sale wasn’t hurting anybody but me.
So I tried to think about how my neighbors were probably making some money selling things to all those people, and how maybe some of those people were finding things they needed that would cost them a lot less then if they had to purchase the items at a store. And I realized that the sun was still shining, and the birds were still chirping, and the air was still crisp and cool and refreshing. I made a conscious decision to stop making myself miserable and to enjoy the rest of my journey.
Funny how easy it is to get upset because things don’t go our way. Some planning is necessary in life, of course, if we are to get the essential things taken care of. But it’s awfully egotistical and unrealistic to assume that the rest of the universe should somehow bend to the way we want things to be.
Planning is OK. Being upset when our plans don’t work out exactly the way we planned just doesn’t make sense.