Are you ever wowed by your sudden ability to clear the shattered glass of life without fanfare, and stay in a state of calm and even humor?
Not long ago I made two mistakes on a one-way street. The first was entering the street in the wrong direction. The second was not fully examining the reflection in my rearview mirror while turning around. I knew there were no cars, but what I didn’t see was a tall metal protrusion at the edge of the street that shattered the back window of my van as I backed up.
The crackling gash of glass into a web of ruin rattled the quiet morning. I flinched and my heart sped, but I felt calm, composed, and unruffled, and this surprised me.
I stepped out of the van to investigate any damage to the metal structure, and finding none, cleared the glass from the street and proceeded to my next business appointment, and then directly to a glass shop to order a new window. I then felt impressed to go back to the scene of the accident and find to whom the structure belonged and report it, which I did.
As I stood in my driveway and sucked thousands of shards of glass into my wet/dry vac, I marveled at my state-of-mind that morning. I also thought of how differently I would have told and lived this story from a younger understanding of life, and I felt deeply grateful.
At an earlier time, I would have likely stayed calm on the outside, and had a flood of feelings on the inside. Shame and self-annoyance for not being aware. Guilt for smashing a perfectly good window. Fear of legal repercussions and facing my actions. Anxiety in finding the “just right” repair shop. Avoidance of my business appointment altogether. Overwhelm at cleaning up the mess and taping the window with plastic.
In short, I would have driven straight home, called my mom and husband, and then slowly faced the task at hand while wading through my emotions and overthinking everything.
What was it then that made the difference for me that day between being rattled and reposed? Between feeling foolish and simply human? Between driving straight home in overwhelm and handling business straightway without fanfare?
What I have come to know through personal daily miracles like this one, is that the clearer we see where our emotions are coming from, the easier life becomes on the inside, and the wiser we navigate the world.
I’ll say more about that in a moment, but I share this story of the broken window to state the obvious fact that life happens. We live in a finite world with human frailty including our own, as well as abrupt edges we don’t often see until we do. Accepting my own and other’s humanity and realizing that no matter how hard I try, I cannot control this sphere called earth, has transformed my everyday experience into moments of peace that exceed my wildest youthful hope for a happy life.
This doesn’t mean I never fear, or that I always fully accept my blazing imperfections, or that I don’t cry with deep distress over my children because I want them to find joy. I suffer with great self-doubt at times, with disappointment, regret, sadness, hesitation, and the desire to put a paper bag over my head so nobody sees me.
The difference is, and this difference is the difference that’s made all the difference – I now know where my emotions are coming from every single time no matter what, and they aren’t coming from the finite world. They aren’t coming from a broken window, my lack of skill, my teenaged daughters, or even a swaggering politician.
Our emotions then, do not come from an inanimate object, an event, or another person, no matter how true that might look in the moment. Our feelings come from a place inside each of us through the divine gift of thought – a potent gift of infinite creation that came with each of us at birth.
What this means is that we do not experience the world directly. Yes, we physically interface with the world, but our feeling of life always via thought. My husband may well press his lips against mine, but it is my thinking in the moment about him that creates my experience of that kiss.
This understanding of the inside-out nature of life is utterly life-changing, and often comes drop by drop as we keep looking. Like during an ordinary day we’ll notice we are scared, anxious, or lonely like we’ve been in the past, but we don’t make a big deal of it snap out of it like a flash. Or we’ll notice that something that would have unsettled us before just doesn’t, and we glide through the moment kinda wowed.
Is your overall experience of life getting easier as you go, regardless of outer circumstance?