It would be a brutal shame for me to delete the previous post, because what we see illustrated in the ranting & raving voice of “I’m going to walk away from all this and quit,” is character growth. It’s a beautiful thing to not have to hide your dark side. In the human world, one of the greatest lessons we could ever teach ourselves is to pull the dark toward the light and vice versa. Our dark sides are full of will and power, of limitless strength down to the last cell of our being.
The energy is simply being misdirected. All the pain–all the fear that says you have no options and nowhere to go–it’s simply telling you to drop into the moment. Be with this crisis, it begs. Mold it into your character. Solve this apparently unsolvable riddle and add it to your badges, because once the opportunity passes to learn from a particular crisis, it may never come again. I had something like this at the winery.
I was running a case packer that bottled a dozen 750mL bottles, and no matter how hard I tried, there was no way to keep the machine running. 250 feet of line meant running back and forth trying to fix mistakes before any error switches were hit. At a run speed of 190 bottles per minute, the task seemed impossible. I was catching stray bottles and bad drops within split seconds of halting the line. A box doesn’t get taped…a hundred feet and two seconds away, a broken bottle…another second later on the entry ramp to the machine, the bottles jam up. Back and forth without a stop.
I could feel the stress mounting. It would go in sharp jolts–hot nervous waves that pulsed from my head, down my neck and shoulders and into the rest of my body. My accidents increased as I tensed up–the bloodflow throttle pushed to its maximum and my face glowing red like a warning gauge.
Then Mary Ann walked by. “You’re doing fine,” she told me. “Don’t let it get to you.” I was pushing as hard as I could to keep that machine running, and riddling
my body with angry chopped pulses to do it. The external signs of this had to be apparent: white knuckles, a fire-truck red face, sharp motion.
Iâ€™m keeping damn thing running. If Iâ€™m doing that, why should I calm down?
One reason: It would be much easier to accomplish the same task without hating the moment. The idea snapped in me right after Mary Ann passed by. She was right. Whether I was angry or frustrated didn’t matter. It certainly didn’t matter to the machine.
The point of the lesson engulfed me, speaking over the PA system in my head. “The tragedy isnâ€™t the circumstances around you; the tragedy is that youâ€™re not enjoying themâ€¦â€? Followed by a quick â€œYou have to enjoy this situation. Youâ€™ve got to love this moment and the nextâ€”itâ€™s the only way to dance, itâ€™s the only way to learn, and itâ€™s what you asked for. Be here, because youâ€™ll never play out the same situation the same way ever again.â€?
It was true. I left the winery over a year ago, and my memories of that job are some of my favorites. If youâ€™ve never worked on a factory line, you havenâ€™t understood the human condition. If you havenâ€™t created something with efficiency and precision in an endless line with half a dozen independent minds, communicating through instinct, body language, and verbal code, you miss the primary physical function of humanity that allows us the level of convenience we take for granted in supermarkets, department stores, electronics equipment, and our choice in vehicular transport.
Finally. The idea rushed in. Flow with this moment, because itâ€™s never going to be the same again. Learn from this time and place, or miss the lesson. You are connected to things in such a way now that you will never have another experience like it.
The tension broke. Waves of nervous heat subsided into a warm fluidity. The machine was going to behave the way its components were placed, whether I was singing, dancing, or kicking the door panels of the damn thing. The best I could do is keep flowing with it, catching the errors before they happened.
Donâ€™t fight with the moment. Youâ€™re only tiring yourself out. Move, dance, flow; but donâ€™t fightâ€”it accomplishes nothing. Donâ€™t contain; flow. Donâ€™t lock anger into your head; move it all around you and direct it constructively. Itâ€™s the same with stress. Donâ€™t put it in a box; let it flow like electric down every one of your nerves, out of your body and into the ground. Let it be the energy that pulls you closer to your goal. Let it be the magnetic force between your current position and your intended destination. Let it tie the moment to your wish.
Anger, stress, frustration, fatigue: each of these yield will. Fuel. Energy is the same anywhere. Electricity. Placed on the wrong path it can spark, burn and kill. The same electricity placed on the right path can work, build and create.
Electricity is no different from fire is no different from energy is no different from conscious action. You are delivering an intention to the world around you. The intention is not enough to clarify the wish; it is the action that follows which clarifies the wish and brings it to fruition. (i.e., the plug doesnâ€™t turn the machine on, hitting the switch does; the match doesnâ€™t start the fire, striking it does; the idea doesnâ€™t make the change, living it does.)
This trick of the universe is that all circumstances are the same. Whether youâ€™re in the Great Sandy Desert or a skyscraper in Manhattan, you have something to learn. Whether youâ€™re a venerable guru or a pissed off adolescent, your circumstances are a framework to understanding what your life is all about. We write our own stories and give ourselves voices just as circumstances are given meaning by the eye that observes them.
Too much? Hereâ€™s the bottom line. We can choose to fear every moment in which we live, or we can choose to find an underlying wisdom in each one. I donâ€™t know how long Iâ€™m going to be around, but Iâ€™d like to die clutching the latter path.