Self Inquiry and Another Personal Lesson
The other day, my next door neighbour called and I noticed that since her call, I have had a little bit of charge whenever I bring the incident to mind. When I first spoke to her, my initial thought, was that she was inviting me to some political event in our area, collecting money for a fundraiser or alerting me about our roaming bear! No such luck!
She wanted to know how long our trailer was going to be parked outside her house. Uh oh! I had the immediate sense that we should have warned her. We had someone clearing away a few leaning trees and they had parked the trailer for their track hoe on the grassy shoulder by the road. I later discovered that he himself had told her that he would be there for a few days and she had said okay. Never mind that though, as I certainly wasn’t aware of this when we spoke on the phone.
I felt myself go a little bit into confusion on the phone, wondering aloud where on earth the man was going to park the trailer. We have no frontage space on the road and we share the access to our long driveway through the woods with the neighbour. I excel at many things, yet common sense and practical matters have not always been my forte! There is a little voice in my head right now commenting, that that is just a story that I tell myself! As I was sorting things out and considering what to do, she abruptly concluded that if it wasn’t moved by tomorrow night, she would call the police!
I believe that in that moment, I was shocked. No other word for it. It’s a similar feeling I get (only definitely magnified in this case), when I ask something that I see as reasonable and my child looks at me and says flat out “No.” Similar feeling of being taken aback with this response. What do you mean “No?” What do you mean call the police? Call the police? No? From my perspective and obvious judgment in that moment, something about that seems odd, out of place and definitely out of whack! I clearly have some mistaken belief that reason will be met with reason. There is also something underlying about liking order in my world.
I think that I was silent and stunned for a few minutes before I reacted and told her that she could go ahead and do that then! I know that in that very moment, I reverted to a moody teenager full of spice and fire. I adopted a kind of “don’t mess with me” attitude! The cantankerous caged dog was let loose and was now ready to bite! All very old and familiar. Naturally from that wondrous space, I called up the police to check the legalities of the matter. The dispatcher was helpful and obviously all about keeping the peace. The government owned a portion of that grassy area and I was clear in saying that I hadn’t a clue whether or not we were on the neighbour’s property or not. If they were called, the police would come out and talk to us both and if we were on her land, they would ask the owner to remove the offending item.
I later discovered that 30 feet (or yards?) from the center line belongs to the government. The tree cutting man was certain that he was on government property but was himself amazed as he had warned her that he was going to park there when he had seen her at the mail box. Well, I guess he can do his own processing if he has any!
All kinds of things came to mind. Smart answers and childish deeds that I could do to probably have my say and the last word! Jeez, isn’t reactivity and the ego something!
For the whole day, I kept feeling amazed and stunned by her unexpected response. I called her back and told her that I was shocked because we had never ever had one single negative interaction. It felt like something that came out of left field. I didn’t see it coming and was really unprepared with how to deal with it. For the most part, I am surrounded by people who seem to behave in a “decent” and “responsible” manner and life moves smoothly. Even when these “decent” people throw me, what amounts to a curve ball, they are open to change or do seem to care about another’s feelings.
So what do we really have here for me, because it always comes back to the individual. What’s first coming up for me, is a lesson about acceptance. Allowing everything to be as it is. There is obviously judgment on my part about how she “should” behave and what constitutes “proper” behaviour. Acceptance means that she gets to be however she chooses to be and I let go of needing to change her. Looking closer at how I derailed myself from being in a nice clear space…
I love what Adyashanti says in “The End of Your World: uncensored straight talk on the nature of enlightenment.” He offers that “When a person’s awakening vacillates, he or she often asks me, “How do I stay in the awakened state?” That is asking the wrong question. In spirituality, it is important that we ask the right questions. To wonder how to stay in the awakened state is a totally reasonable thing to do, but the question itself is arising from the dream state. Spirit never asks itself, “How do I stay within myself?” That would be ridiculous. It just makes no sense, coming from the true nature of things. What makes more sense is to ask how you unenlighten yourself.”
Adya further remarks, that “We are in relationship with situations and people, interacting with lovers and friends and children and all the rest. It is this gritty fabric of life where the spiritual rubber hits the road. What is required is the willingness to let life impact you; to let yourself see when life impacts you; to see if you go into any sort of separation about it, if you go into judgment, if you go into blame, if you go into “should” or “shouldn’t,” if you start to point the finger somewhere other than at yourself…. It’s coming to grips with the fact that the only person who can cause us to suffer, who can cause us to misperceive illusion and separation, who has this much power, is us.”
So how am I unenlightening myself and putting myself back into illusion with this situation?
Lots of “should’s on my part.” I have the perspective that something and someone is wrong and they should behave better. I didn’t do anything to warrant being threatened by the police and I should be treated better than this.
There is a symbolic line drawn in the sand with the “crazy” neighbour on one side and “innocent” me on the other. Separation and a big gap. Quite funny actually when I consider my history of behaviour that is far from reasonable, calm and innocent!
Everywhere I go with this, it seems to come back to acceptance and non-judgment. To simply be with the experience without adding anything to it. Allowing people to be as they are. Allowing life to impact me, feeling what arises and just being present with it. Right now, it’s all like a gentle wave that washes over me… back and forth, back and forth. Gradually, there is just the slightest of movement as things settle down. Back and forth and I feel peace, dawning recognition of myself in this other person. Easing into the flow of life… rough edges being softened and there is just a neutral feeling that remains.