It’s hard to remember that whatever we do, we are affecting something or someone. When we eat a bite of food, or speak to someone we don’t know, or even stand and watch a leaf, a bird, another person, we are affecting things around us and affecting things farther away from us that we have no idea we are affecting. If we are planning to affect someone in a specific way; to give them a gift, help them with a project, ruin their day, we tend to be a bit more aware of the effects of what we are doing because we want everything to happened as we planned and hoped it would go, but even with very careful planning and using foresight we have no way of knowing that the phone would ring precisely the wrong second or that a dear friend happens to appear to rescue the object of our ire. But during our execution of events we may have caused just those things. Planning rarely seems to be completely effective in any circumstance; choosing to accept how events proceed and enjoying the variation made possible by seemingly unconnected acts opens us up the inevitability of the effects we are producing all the time. With this awareness, shouldn’t we be more responsible about our smallest actions?
Occasionally we find that the only way to get some attention paid to us or to a cause we are currently espousing is to stir things up a bit. To speak loudly or constantly or insistently enough that in frustration or weariness or defense others stop to actually listen to our message. These methods may work to some extent but they often engender only an apathetic agreement with no real commitment to our ideas or pleas for action. To effectively catch people’s attention and to motivate them to positive and productive action making small, consistent waves in their worlds can be much more to the point than making tsunami sized waves directionless, stormy waves that overwhelm and destroy our objectives or the goals we’re trying to meet. We can more easily set aside obstacles and make progress with a group of small, but consistent waves that meld together and conquer by working together and thus growing in strength and power and inexorably in the same direction. Small persuasions using logic and reachable, small steps are less intimidating and more satisfying by their successful achievement than large, flashy stabs toward unreasonable objectives. Isn’t it more satisfying to be effective with less effort than more?
Even the most hidden from view, inconspicuous things can have great impact on others and the world. Some may be unhappy with their inconspicuous role and chafe at their seeming unimportance while it would be better, and would help them, to realize that even the smallest things and their smallest efforts are important. Others do not wish to have an impact and only want to make themselves more inconspicuous, want only to have no effect on the world and want their lives to be lived unnoticed. This is a shame since everyone and everything cannot escape having some impact in some way and it would be best to optimize that impact. There is a group who wish never to be inconspicuous and will do everything in their power to display their effect on the world; they tend to overlook some of the best things the world has to offer as they bask in their own glory. A balance can be made, however: one can remain inconspicuous while learning about a new idea, one can be conspicuous when teaching; one can be inconspicuous when offering charity, but conspicuous when soliciting for it; one can be inconspicuous in leadership, but conspicuous about advocacy. Don’t you think being inconspicuous has its place?
Although we may have made plans, and even refined them, sometimes circumstances change and we are impelled to change our plans quickly or perhaps we haven’t made any plans, but must do so quickly. If we haven’t thought about or anticipated what is going to happen in our near future we may seem indecisive or we may be indecisive. In general we are better off having plans and contingency plans so that our indecision does not lead to any kind of trouble. When we know we have a fallback position we can go forward with more confidence; with a backup plan we are not caught short and don’t have to make a quick decision that may be a bad one. Yet there are times when indecision may serve us better than we would expect it to. When we’ve planned something without thinking it through or use uninformed advice from another indecision on our part may prevent us from an undesirable or path. Or if we’re indecisive enough to slow our pace we may observe the continuance of the plan may hurt or inconvenience others and choose to move to a backup plan. Being welded to one particular course of action can be as damaging, or more, than wavering between several. This means that, if possible, no action should be taken without careful thought and consideration or that no proposed action should be set in stone so that one change plans as circumstances change. Why not feel OK about a little indecision here and there?
Our perceived and true responsibilities feel like chains that hold us down and allow no time or pleasure for ourselves. Yet these perceived chains can be changed by only a slight veer in our point of view. We can surmount the restrictions we feel by using the chains to support us, rather than we supporting the chains. We can use the chains as a backdrop for our accomplishments and achievements rather than feeling shadowed by them. We can work with our chains to provide learning and growing opportunities for all of us. If we make no effort to consider our responsibilities as other than burdens then, yes, we will be weighed down and fail to thrive. We need to take a look from another direction, to discover how the negatives of wearing loops of chains can be used to promote positive actions and to guarantee our desired outcomes. This may involve persuading our chains to change their point of view also, in these interactions, taken on judiciously and without strident confrontation we can see entire situations change for the better. Beauty and growth can arise around the chains and drown the heaviness and the dreary burden. Isn’t it easier to work to relieve your burden than to languish under it?
Most of us have permanent homes but there are times when we all need shelter aside from our homes. A storm can come upon us suddenly or when it is very bright and hot we may need to get out of the sun for a while. Unless we’re travelling in unpopulated area we can generally find some kind of shelter from the elements. But there can be times when we need shelter from our own selves, when we are blinded to the consequences of we’re doing or when we’ve stumbled unthinkingly into a trying or ridiculous situation. We may not need protection, but only to take cover from the strengths of our convictions and stop to chart our path once again or redirect our energy. Although at times this may mean using some kind of physical shelter, generally the shelter we need to regroup consists of others who can help by being sounding boards or by giving us rest by just being there and listening to us spout nothing very consequential. Shelter from our thoughts and actions may involve sleep or heavy exercise or meditation or burying oneself in a book. This kind of shelter is every bit as important as a roof over your head since we cannot go on and on and on without time to allow a change in direction or affirmation of the directions we are already taking. It is imperative that each of us feel that it is fine to take shelter when it is needed, or even when it is merely desirable, so that we can face life more easily and comfotably and make rational decisions. Isn’t taking shelter a rational way of dealing with stress?
Emergence being a coalescence of many things becoming more alike, then coming forth in a new way means we have unlimited opportunities to improve or reconfigure ourselves. Though we many not always want to recognize it we are already changing every day. Each time we emerge from a doorway, or come to the surface after a time underwater, or rise to an occasion we emerge as a different person, since everything we see, feel, and experience changes us in ways we may not recognize. If one wishes to feel respect and liking for oneself we’d like these miniscule changes to be for the better. That cannot happen, though, unless we’re willing to actually look at ourselves and see, really see, what the latest emergence has wrought. Self-evaluation is a valuable tool and one to be honed and practiced constantly until it becomes habit and is done without effort. There is no way to be sure that we are learning in a mindful way unless we choose to look at our actions and reactions and understand where both have come from. We may not want to change a thing most times, but there are those times that we’ve wished we had said something differently or not said anything at all. Or we wish we had seen something in particular but were looking down. Or wish we had given comfort or taken some. Regrets are the easiest way to know you’d like to change something so that the next time you emerge from a funk or an argument or an emotionally charged moment you’ll know where you’d like to place your efforts what efforts you’d like to make before the next emergence. None of us are perfect and none of us will get there, but making an effort to emerge from our all too common sleeping wakefulness can engage our interest and our potential. Wouldn’t you rather make an effort at emerging from unconscious life than stay there?