Have you ever noticed how as soon as one problem goes away, the next one shows up? Like clockwork, problems seem to throw themselves at us one after another, leaving little time for peace in between.
As the firsthand experiencers of this drama, we're left with no choice but to watch this phenomenon unfold on the biggest movie screen of all - our minds.
Is there any opportunity for peace amidst the chaos?
My experience of life is often clouded with anxiety and frustration. Sure, sometimes the clouds burn away, but mostly, even on the sunniest of days, the clouds still linger.
While this general experience of life is uncomfortable at best and crippling at worst, I‘m finally able to witness this phenomenon from above.
Take me writing this blog post while on a plane. I had written about 90% of it, and then the wifi cut out, resulting in my whole post getting deleted. Another problem, right? Another reason to become frustrated and ruin my current state, no?
And how about this other thing that just happened - as I was typing the sentence above about the wifi cutting out, the man in front of me abruptly swung back his seat, smashing into my laptop screen which was resting against the tray table. You can imagine what happened, next, right?
As soon as my screen was jammed down, my mind knew right where it wanted to go. Luckily, I'm all to familiar with this pattern, so I quickly stepped in to intervene. How could I let something as silly as the wifi going out on a plane, or the person in front of me wanting to recline, to ruin my mood?
I couldn't, so I didn't. The old me would have thrown an inner tantrum, souring my mood for at least the next hour. The new me knows that those frustrations are fleeting, just like the clouds beneath the plane.
From the ground looking up, life can seem like one giant problem. The clouds just never seem to go away. As soon as we resolve one anxiety, the next one shows up.
If I wasn’t able to see this pattern from above, I’d think that my life is one giant problem. However, since I‘ve gained a level of awareness that sits above the clouds, I’m now conscious of the fact that there’s more to life than frustrations, anxiety, and problems.
Above the clouds, beyond the drama of the mind, there's beauty, wonder, and awe everywhere we look. This beauty doesn't replace the problems, but rather, it holds them. After all, the problems have to exist somewhere, right?
Ask yourself not what your problem is, but how you know there's a problem. What space is allowing the problem to exist? That's where beauty is found.
What about in your own life? Are your days clouded by constant problems, one after another? If so, how are you relating to these problems? Are they each worthy opponents who demand all of your attention, or are they fleeting ships who deserve a greeting and nothing more?
The reality is, most of what we deem a problem is just our mind coming up with the next thing to feed on. The key to ending this cycle is to recognize that our minds will feed themselves if we don't step in.
The mind, when left undirected, will always snowball into its habitual patterns of suffering. It's our job to notice this pattern, gently smile at it, and get on with our lives.
In truth, not everything is a problem.
In fact, it's not always something. It's always nothing.
Live with substance! Gabe Orlowitz