Monday, August 4, 2014

When presence and patience are essential

"Trying to control anything that is not you... is what makes you separate and lonely. When you see all life's inconveniences as your enemies, then you are setting yourself apart."

This quote from Brother Tolbert McCarroll's Notes from the Song of Life got me thinking this morning -- about lots of things.  About how I have this tendency to rush from one task to the next.  About how irritated I can get when stuck in traffic.  About how much of my meditation time is spent scanning the to-do list for the day -- all symptoms, I'm afraid, of control issues. 

It's why photography is so good for me: it reminds me I can't control a situation. The best shots, like this one, happen when I take the time to notice and to wait: presence and patience are essential. 

And it's why Tonglen is the perfect practice for me; to notice when I'm tense or bothered or upset, and hold in my breath a prayer for all the other people in the world who are confined in similar circumstances.

The impulse to control is, of course, a natural human phenomenon.  But if we are aware of how much that impulse controls US -- well, then -- that's an opportunity to re-connect with the commonality that unites us all.

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