Spring along the Delaware River is always an interesting time. One early spring Maya was out walking near Bulls Island. She had just walked over the bridge and was exploring the island when she heard a rolling thunderous sound coming from the river. As she looked she could see massive ice blocks being pushed along in the now roaring river waters – waters that looked like they were coming right at the little island that she was meandering around.
Maya started for the bridge but something told her to wait. Just as she paused, a tree that was caught up in the river crashed into the island side entrance to the bridge knocking it off its foundation and she watched in collapse into the water. Moments later an old wreck of a car came careening down the river and tore into the bridge on the other side of the island. Maya was marooned.
She walked along the shore of the island cursing her stupidity at letting this happen to her. As she walked the shore on the canal side of the island, she cursed the canal and the river for cutting her off from the safety of the mainland. The shore was close enough to see. She could probably throw a rock across the canal and hit the other shore. . But the banks were steep. The water was rushing too wildly. And the waters had to be frigid from the ice. She was angry and frustrated, plan-less and clueless and worse, no one knew where she was, and her cell phone was in the car. Eventually she found a boulder, crumpled onto it, and wept in frustration.
As she wept, she heard a voice in the wind say, “it is silly to curse and struggle against what isn’t there.”
In her frustration Maya muttered, “What isn’t there?”
“Your enemy is not here. The water is not your enemy. Just as you are a woman becoming the fullness of who you are, the water is merely water, flowing and following its path.”
Maya listened, thought and studied the waters. She walked thoughtfully along the shore of the island observing the waters, watching and waiting, observing and thinking. As she looked more carefully at the canal side bridge, she noticed that a cable still connected it to the island. She could crawl along the cable to the part of the bridge still above water and make it to the other side. And so she did.
Life is life. Each of us is doing the best that we can with the knowledge, awareness and resources that we have available to us at the moment. Yes, it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness, but that assumes that you have a candle and match available to you – resources matter. Knowledge and awareness are in our control. Those we can increase.
So when frustrations best you, pause a moment. Take a deep breath (or two or ten). Swear if you have to, if just to get it out of your system. And then look, listen, breath and pay attention to your environment and circumstances, see your world from a different perspective. Who do you think is your enemy at that moment? What might the reality that person be? That empathy thing can go a long way to opening new vistas and alternative.
Oh, and if you are in immediate danger, see to your safety before you shift your awareness!
Discipline, thoughtful meditation, and compassionate action – what a difference they can make!! If we are going to work effectively for justice and respect for human dignity, it is good to remember ‘no enemy’; human rights are the rights of ALL human beings, of ALL sentient beings, even those who frustrate us.