My life is a bit like a juggling act. I have many roles and responsibilities on my plate and no real structure to hold it together. So actually it is like a juggling act performed on a high wire. There are times when I have just a few balls in the air and it flows with ease, but then there are times when I have innumerable balls to handle and it feels like either they will fall and shatter on the ground, or I will, or both. Reality check, this is a story, an imagining, a construct of my mind. The to do list has a basis in the reality of my life but my reaction to it is of my own creation. So it is in life, there is reality and then there is the story we create about it. This is my story.
Yesterday morning I got up, tired and cranky, primed for drama. I went to look at my calendar and what I saw was overwhelming, the month is just starting and the page already looked mangled and defaced with my various scribbles of appointments, classes to teach, activities for the kids and so on. The mere sight of it made me begin to waiver. I felt suffocated and unsteady. I began to panic about all the balls I could drop and how I might fall. If I should fall there would be no net, in fact what would be waiting for me is the razor sharp jaws of failure, hungry and eager to crush me. My fear erupted and my husband was in its path. I proceeded to share this story with him, and not in a kind way. I whined and wailed about the crushing pressure, the lack of support from him or anyone, my certain failure coming, just a matter of time. Drama, drama, drama.
Don't get me wrong, I do have a lot to deal with and so does the rest of the world. It does get crazy and chaotic, a circus if you will. The kind of circus it becomes though is entirely up to me. In my mind I can create a story of wonder and adventure where I am strong and fearless ready to walk that tightrope or fly on the trapeze, or I can cast myself in a nightmare circus of the Stephen King variety where I am the helpless victim of a dark evil force, those hungry jaws of failure.
The question then is how to shift gears, how to change the story? The hardest part is to wake up. Waking up requires a pause and once I am on the tightrope of terror gripping and gasping for air it is hard to pull back. I am gasping and struggling for breath. Aha! Breath! My very wise teacher Megha always says that fear and breath can not exist in the same space. Breath reminds me that all of this really is just a story because it is not an experience of the present moment. It is a projection into an unknown future, it is a dream, an illusion that I have conjured. Breath brings me back to the now, to my body where there is no story beside the state of being in that moment. I can feel my feet on the earth, sink into that support, the illusion drops away and I am safe.
We can not exit our stories completely as long as we live in the world, which is full of stimuli, activity, perception and judgment. We can however, learn to have better control over our thoughts and to be vigilant over the reality we create for ourselves. We shape our world and our destiny in our intentions, our perceptions and thoughts, but we can always come home to the simple abundance of the breath and the present moment. The present moment reminds us that we need do nothing because we are always perfectly held and safe. That is my story.