Stop and go

Yesterday, on my way to work, all the 12 or so stoplights between my home and work were green. It was a nice experience of flow, a good start of the day as a superstitious person would assume. Today all of them were red. It would be a bad day. If  you predict that something will go bad or end bad it probably will. Such thoughts can easily become reality as the mind is focused on all those things that could qualify as ‘not so great.’ There is usually a lot of these in one day. And then you were right, it was a bad day.

Looking back over the last 3 months – this is after all a time to look back – I can see the green and red stoplights all through the year – periods of high and periods of low; periods when I was in the flow and periods when I despaired.

One of the things I do in my coaching is getting the people I coach to take a step sideways and look through another window at their reality. I try to coach myself in the same way. Simply by stepping aside, and looking from a different vantage point, a bad thing can suddenly look good. Or, when we step back and look at what happened after the immediate ‘bad’ is over, still moving to the next window or the one on the opposite end, we see all sort of other things come into view, possibilities we had missed before.

I am quick to label something as bad but I have learned to catch myself. Before, when something bad happened everything got tainted with the ‘bad’ brush. It’s a bit like Axel’s silk painting – the tip of the brush touches the silk and whoops, the ink spreads wide and far.

Artists look at this not as something bad that happens (or something good for that matter) but with wonder. “Geez, look what is made possible now!”

My red stop lights today were moments of repose – of brief meditative experiences. I didn’t mind them. I think of Mark Twain’s wise words often in such circumstances: “If you are patient you can wait much faster.” I also think of this poem from a South African poet, Benjamin Mo Loise:

“In our whole life’s melody the music is broken off

here and there, by rests.

And we foolishly think we have come to the end of the tune.

God sends a time of forced leisure, sickness,

disappointed plans, frustrated efforts,

and makes a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives.

And we lament that our voices must be silent.

Our part missing in the music that goes up to the Creator from the

world.”

 

 

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