I’m sure everyone has had to do things they don’t especially want to do. For me lately it’s been a barn infested with raccoons. Oh yes, they are cute, they are adorable, very clever little bandits. Until you find they have killed one third of your flock of chickens like I did several years ago. I don’t want to hear the nonsense about them just being hungry. Not when you find your chicken dying having had a leg or wing ripped off, or just ripped open. Not when you find their corpses stashed in the upper part of the chicken house. No, it killed because it enjoyed it. And so I will tolerate no raccoons in my barn. It’s too close to the chickens. Not to mention they poop on the hay for the boys and they carry diseases. Nope, not happening.
So this year has been very bad for them, and me. I’m guessing at some point a mother gave birth to a bunch of them and they’ve all come back for a family reunion. So far they have chewed up the extension cord that my stock tank heater was plugged into. While it was plugged in. I’m still grateful it didn’t set my barn on fire. The tin I kept the boys treats in has been in use for years and the lid fit tight enough it was never a problem till this year. I don’t use it anymore. I’ve lost track of how many I’ve killed. But I’m very tired of having to clean up the “messes”. The last one I had to clean up was the worst. I just couldn’t make myself do it for various and sundry reasons. I finally ended up praying about it. It had to be done, I knew that or it would attract more animals. Believe it or not, an answer did come, and I was able to accomplish the necessary task fairly quickly. The sense of relief was amazing. Yes, I know it seems like a stupid thing, but not when you have to do it.
And it set me to thinking. How many other things in life do I try to do on my own willpower, or with only my own resources? Sometimes we just don’t have it in us to be nice to that person that really annoys us, or we don’t even like. Or to work on a task we are dreading but know we need to do it. I wonder, have I thought it was too lowly for G-d to want to help me, or to bother him about it? I know the only real strength, wisdom, courage, creativity or anything else comes from him. Perhaps I need to be quicker to ask for help with even things that seem lowly, or like I should be able to do them on my own. Because frankly? Some of those efforts don’t turn out so good.
I guess it depends on how we choose to spend our time. We all have time, sometimes it seems like not enough, but I think it’s a case of what I choose to “spend” it on. I can waste it on a multitude of things, or I can treat it like the gift it is, and spend it wisely.
This is from a meditation book I love called The Daily Stoic for March 15th.
The Present is All We Possess
“Were you to live three thousand years, or even a countless multiple of that, keep in mind that no one ever loses a life other than the one they are living, and no one ever lives a life other than the one they are losing. The longest and the shortest life, then, amount to the same, for the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses. No one can lose either the past or the future, for how can someone be deprived of what’s not theirs?”
Today, notice how often you look for more. That is, wanting the past to be more than what it was (different, better, still here, etc.) or wanting the future to unfold exactly as you expect (with hardly a thought as to how that might affect other people).
When you do this, you’re neglecting the present moment. Talk about ungrateful! There’s a saying—attributed to Bil Keane, the cartoonist—worth remembering: “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” This present is in our possession—but it has an expiration date, a quickly approaching one. If you enjoy all of it, it will be enough. It can last a whole lifetime.
And that brings me to facing quicksand. There are things, situations and events that happen in life. They are big, and they didn’t turn out the way we had hoped or wanted. We feel like they are so painful that there is a psychic tear or something in us. We heal, but we are not the same. Sometimes it’s the lose of a much loved family member. Sometimes it’s something career oriented, sometimes it relationship oriented. So what do we do with that? All of these are situations we don’t control really. We can never really control another person.
We just don’t want to let go. We think it will get better, just a rough patch, be patient, be kind. It’s only when the decomposition process begins we are finally forced to admit that it is done for. Stick a fork in it, it’s done. Let it go Jim, he’s dead.
They do what they do, but we can choose how we react. If we do choose to react. Sometimes we go on, get over it and go forward with the relationship, the job, the hobby or whatever. But sometimes? That tear is strong enough that we choose to alter our course in life, or our thoughts or opinions about the job, the person, the opportunity. I think of it as quicksand. If you’ve been caught in quicksand once and made it out, you know what it looks like when you see it. When you’re out walking, you aren’t afraid of it, you have an appreciation for what it can do to you and you just tip your hat and walk on by it. Because there is just not a good enough reason to examine it up close again. It’s not living life based on fear, but on how you chose to react to something that doesn’t work out well for you.
So, today is a present, may I spend it wisely and remember, G-d cares about the situations I face and that he can use those psychic tears in our souls. I don’t know that I want to “mend” or “heal” from some of them. I think I will just begin to see it as something of a quicksand avoidance system. And perhaps with that system in place? I will become even closer to who and what G-d created me to be in the first place. I may be a very flawed creature, but I’m a flawed creature that G-d has a plan for. I’ve discovered his plans for me are often better than the ones I make for myself. I shoot too low from time to time. My hopes and aspirations for myself are sometimes pittance to what he has planned. Because his? They are always on the mark. I’m sure many have felt bruised and battered. I do. But I will keep going on with as much dignity as I can, learn life lessons and be the stronger for it.