Do I cause my experience of life or am I at the effect of circumstances? Bad things happen, that’s true, but do I have control over how I react to them? Why do some people collapse under the weight of unemployment, cancer, lost loves, lost hair or the home team’s losing streak, while others let it wash off their back?
What would my life be like if I just laughed at my travails, while still working to improve things? I’d have all that extra energy available for love, kindness, compassion and other good works.
Here’s a story that stopped me in my tracks, since I’m the type who gets antsy about creepy crawly things. Mr. Lama knows a thing or two, I’d say.
Today was particularly bad for me as the rain would not let up. And the leeches were relentless. At one point I counted twenty-two of them sucking on me at the same time … Sloshing along the muddy trail in the pounding rain, I came upon a large, slimy log that had fallen chest high across our brush-choked path. In my agitated state, I viewed the log as a menacing obstacle that was clearly separate, in my way and against me. With no way under or around, I jumped, stomach first, and slid over the top. Regaining my balance on the other side, I was infuriated at the mud and decaying mush that seemed to have covered the entire front of my body. Rubbing off the crud, I cursed the log and the god-damned rain. It was my brother Todd who suggested that we wait and see how the Lama would handle this formidable impediment. Surely this test would break him.
Hiding off the trail, we peeked through the underbrush just in time to see him trudge up to the log. Ever smiling, he took a couple of steps back and tried his jump with a running start. With not enough momentum – coupled with a portly belly – he slid back down on the same side of the log and landed on his back in a large puddle. Shaking his rain-drenched head, he burst into spasms of uproarious laughter. Staggering to his feet, he repeated the same maneuver – with the same results – two more times. With each collapse back into the puddle, his laughter grew stronger and louder. On his fourth attempt, he made it over the top and slid headlong into the muddy puddle on the other side. Again, the laughter was knee-slapping. Continuing to chuckle, he wiped himself off as best he could, lovingly patted the log as though it were a dear friend, and proceeded up the trail – smiling. Todd and I just stared at each other.
Time to pat a log or two