I found yesterday to be stressful. I felt overwhelmed by a long list of small duties and by evening I was spent and discouraged and, though I was tired, my head was spinning with details keeping me from falling asleep.
I am working on a project that has been on my calendar each year at this time for the past six years. It is fundraising event for our favorite non-profit and I am in charge of acquiring and presenting the various objects and services donated for the silent auction. I remember this time of stress coming up the last week before the dinner/dance as part of the process, the most grueling part. Reading this morning, I came to a realization that I think explains the source of my stress. On the surface, it would seem that the cause of my stressful feeling is the last minute donations that trickle in the last few days from donors who may have been approached a couple of months ago and are just now showing up with their $25 items. Every penny counts and I am not about to bawl them out like an angry mother for their lack of consideration. I smile, say thanks, and then grumble as they walk out the door. People have no clue about the steps that follow each donation in order to be ready for the event. Multiply these late donations by twenty and you have the makings of a melt-down. I reminded Bernie the other day when both of us were feeling such stress last year that both of us actually cried one night. So far, no tears this year. I guess that is growth.
Adyashanti writes in Falling Into Grace that our unhappiness or suffering is not caused by the events in our lives but by our resistance to them. We have a tendency to argue with what is, thinking that it should be different. We are, in effect, in a constant state of collision with life. Reality is what is actually happening at any given moment. When we meet these moments with judgment or evaluation, we are causing our own stress. I have to admit that every time someone showed up with a donation during the last two or three days, I fill my brain with “should” about these people. But I need to step back and ask myself about these judgments about what other people should or should not be doing. Arguing with life causes suffering, Adyashanti says. Dealing with stragglers in this situation is part of the job. It comes with the territory. It is what it is. The people who donate have other lives that they live each day. Who am I to judge that I should be on the top of their priority list?
Adyashanti suggests that peace of mind, serenity, comes when we surrender to life as life is. Drop the struggle, he says. Be open to whatever happens. Do the best you can with whatever is handed to you. “From our conceptual world view,” he writes, “oneness is simply an idea, but once we begin to be pulled into this new way of being, oneness is no longer just a concept built on thought. Rather, it’s an actual lived experience of a tremendous intimacy with each and every aspect of our lives. Even the most mundane and ordinary objects in our lives-events and people and circumstances-become transparent to this inner connectivity.” Then he adds, “…we’re beginning to see the face of the divine in each and every moment of our lives.”
So in walks Joe with his set of screw drivers on the day before the auction. Joe looks kind of stressed, I think. I ask him how things have been going and listen a his story about his business or his family. I empathize with him. His stress isn’t much different than mine. I say, “I hope the rest of your day goes better,” and I mean it. Then I look at the screw drivers and notice that the handles are different colors and think, “That’s creative.”I sit down and check in the item and write up a little description, so that Laura can create the bid sheet. There are more steps, but all I need to do is accept each thing, each encounter as reality, what is in the moment. No judgments about Joe’s procrastination or about his donation. No fearful thoughts about the amount of work left to be done and the shortness of time. Just one step in front of the other, accepting life as life is.
If Adyashanti is right, today should go better than yesterday.