Earlier this month I got my new Audible credit so I could get a new audio book to listen to. One of the books on my wishlist that I’d been wanting for awhile is The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. I’d heard of him and his book many times over the years, but I guess I was resistant to his work because of the immense popularity he had, especially with celebrities. I kinda like to go against the grain, so to speak.
But in this case, I had “bitten off my nose to spite my face” because I had listened to The Power of Now and it basically is all of the Buddhist dhamma talks and teachings I’d learned all distilled into one body of work, in this case a 7 hour audio book.
One particular selection stands out for me because of its simplicity and I’d like to share it with you. Tolle says that you have three choices when it comes to obstacles in your path such as pain, suffering or any kind of dissatisfaction, and still live in the present moment with full awareness and Being. Accept your situation, change your situation, or remove yourself from your situation. Decide on one, then live fully with that choice.
Here are stories of how I used each of these choices in my life situation.
There’s this mother at the Thai temple where I take my son for his summer school, then on Sundays for the rest of the year. She has two of the worst behaved little boys you can imagine. They run around like wild animals, bullying other kids, teasing, getting into mischief. These two are the main reason why my husband, Golf, and I keep an eagle eye on our son when he’s there: to protect him from either of these two!
Their mother acts as if she has no clue about the destructive behavior of her bratty kids. They act this way because they are desperate for attention. She’s so tired of them that she just wants to get away. I mean I understand that, but it is your responsibility as a parent to do your best to actively control your kids. She does none of it; instead she does all sorts of errands for the temple to keep it running and such, which is nice, but my husband and I both think it is because she wants to ensure they don’t get kicked out.
Anyway, I used to come home fuming about this family. Clueless mom and brat-hole kids. It makes my scalp tingle just thinking about it right now as I type. But I’ve decided to ACCEPT that this is just how she is and to focus on not letting it bother me when I encounter her and her children. I will keep my kid safe and those two boys can do what they will if their mother refuses to look after them. I greet her politely, but leave it at that. I accept that this is how she is with her children and there is not a thing I can do about it to make her change.
So what CAN I change. Well, I’m the only one I can change, that is for sure. I would sometimes get some embarrassing little health problems on occasion due to certain foods I’ve eaten. After years of having this health problem plague me periodically, I’ve narrowed it down to a couple foods and types of foods. Dairy products and white bread.
My husband gets these Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) from Oakland Chinatown that are out of this world. I get the tofu one and it has cilantro and pickled vegetables in it. When I used to eat more meat, I’d get the one with the pork meatloaf with pate spread on it. All in a freshly baked French baguette – crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, often still warm from the oven. Oh my god it was divine.
Golf was craving the sandwich again a few days later and I could not say no, either. I’d also had another type of sandwich the day before. White bread galore!
Now I am suffering the consequences and the only way I won’t suffer is to change my eating habits. One sandwich occasionally is fine. Several in a week is bad news. Will I change? You bet.
Another example is from years ago. I’d gotten a dream job during the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley in the late 90s. Once I achieved my goal, though, I felt hollow and empty. This is all there is now?
I decided to change. I went to school at night to get my certificate to teach English as a foreign language and shortly thereafter packed up my life into one suitcase and bought a one way ticket to Thailand.
Whether it’s turning your life upside down or just eating differently, embrace the change you’ve decided to make and fully live in the moment you’ve created.
I don’t know about other parts of the world, but in the USA, our larger grocery stores have self-service check out. It’s all computerized, and so it is inevitable that something will go wrong. There is one particular store in my neighborhood where the self checkout seems to always go wrong. I also get frustrated very easily with machines that don’t do what they are supposed to.
Well, I was with my husband and son getting a couple of items and we used the self checkout, and there were problems. I was getting angry and my husband and I snapped at each other. I reflected on my outburst as we were leaving the store. It was totally unnecessary to go through that! I decided that from now on, I would never use the self checkout at this particular store again. If that meant standing in line to have a human check through my groceries, even just a few items, I would do it. I removed myself from the situation.