With this said, I’ve also noticed that almost every time period that is full of amazing and exciting “happenings” tends to be followed by a time period of unforeseen and unexpected challenges, and some I would even label as irritating. For example, the night before my most recent self-defense class, I was finishing up printing 20 manuals and all of the handouts that go with them. It was 11:00 p.m. and I only had a few more things left when *boom* my printer shows this message:
No printing, replace photoconductor
My first thought was, “What the hell is a photoconductor?” This was followed by another question, “And why didn’t the engineers who designed this printer not set up some type of warning system so that people like me can have the part on hand before the printer stops working in the middle of a big job at 11:00 p.m.?” Well, I hopped into my truck and drove to the only 24 hour FedEx/Kinkos in town and finished off the job for a hefty price I might add. I’ll admit…I was irritated.
I’ve been acutely aware for many years now that the “flow” of my life tends to consist of periods of greatness followed by periods of strange and weird challenges. The same day my printer stopped working, the little flap you open to refill the paper also broke. Also recently, my 2 year old microwave has decided to sing a little erratic beeping song over and over and over and over while flashing SE on the display. I first suspected it might be some type of Morse code or communication from outer space, but then I looked it up and apparently this “over the stove” model is sensitive to moisture so the electrical circuits don’t like it when steam rises from the stove-top. (Don’t get me started on my thoughts about THAT design flaw!). If I don’t want to hear it, I have to climb a step-ladder and unplug it between uses then climb the ladder again to plug it in to heat up whatever needs heating up. Yup, I find that irritating.
It’s always so easy to remain optimistic when everything appears to be going along smoothly and effortlessly, but when these chains of not-so-smooth-occurrences happen, even I find it challenging sometimes to remain positive and “go with the flow” even though I also know that it is indeed MY choice to remain positive or go to a negative place.
I know that resisting the flow of life only creates more suffering. I know that even though my monkey mind (or ego as some call it), likes to tell me it has “everything under control,” that the reality is that I have zero control over anything that happens in life. I know the only thing I can control is my own attitude and perceptions, and I can control the story I choose to create around any given moment or occurrence in my life…and by the way, almost everything we tell ourselves inside of our own minds is literally made-up stories about reality. So I GET this stuff and yet, there are days when I’m so depleted of energy and resources that I find myself entertaining all sorts of creatively negative thoughts, which really only serve to make me feel badly.
I’ve been thinking along time about why this cycle seems almost predictable in my life and one concept came to mind that really fits. All things are actually energy in our physical world, even solid matter, but it’s energy that is vibrating at such a low frequency that it appears to be “solid” matter to us and our limited senses (quantum physics again). Energy pulsates; it doesn’t stay constant 100% all of the time. This is why we have electronic parts that serve as “buffers” in electrical circuits so that in case there is an energy spike, that extra energy will not damage the delicate circuits. Your car’s electrical system has something called a voltage regulator so that it can help manage the demand for electricity from the alternator, but guess what serves as your car’s electrical system “buffer” while you’re driving down the road? The car battery does as it can absorb energy spikes to prevent your car’s electrical circuits from getting fried! This led me to thinking about our own bodies, nature, the Universe, and the apparent cyclical flow of my life.
One theme keeps appearing in everything that I can think of and that is the theme of expansion and contraction. Think about it, the birthing process involves painful contractions as well as the expansion of the muscles and birth canal so that a little human being can be brought into this world. Scientists have said for years that the Universe is literally expanding, and this was first measured in the 1920’s by the namesake of the Hubble Telescope, Edwin Hubble. One theory is that once the Universe reaches a certain mass and point of expansion, it will start contracting back onto itself resulting in “The Big Crunch.”
In our own bodies our lungs expand and contract so that we can breathe life-giving oxygen, and of course the heart begins to beat as soon as 18 days after conception, and the heart’s primary “job” is to expand and contract, pumping and circulating oxygen-rich blood throughout our bodies.
In nature, the moon waxes and wanes, a visual process of expansion and contraction. The very cycles of the seasons are an act of expansion and contraction, so in the Spring, wildlife and vegetation “expand” by virtue of having babies or growing beautiful flowers and fruit. Spring is the peak of the expansion process where Fall is the peak of the contraction process where life fades away so as to prepare for another renewal of energy and resources. I think of Summer and Winter as more dormant seasons where the breaking-down or building-up processes are winding down in order to give rise to the next cycle of birth and death.
Looking at things in this context really makes sense to me as my own experiences for quite some time now have occurred within time periods of great expansion that seem to offer up many miracles on a daily basis (and this includes moments where my awareness has been raised to a whole new level of consciousness). But then the contraction process begins and I choose to label these time periods as “irritating” or “challenging” but the truth is that they just ARE. It is only because I set my mind to thinking that something “should” work out this or that way when the reality is that it’s going to work out in whatever way the Universe makes it work out. It’s way beyond me to control.
Perhaps these time periods that offer me challenges and irritants serve the purpose of letting me practice the process of surrendering to “what is,” as I also believe that if the act of surrendering can be integrated fully into one’s life, then the times of expansion and then seemingly painful contraction will not be experienced as two different “ways of life,” but will instead be experienced just as life.
So what if our hearts served not only to pump life-giving blood through our bodies, but also served to remind us of how everything in life moves within the context of expansions and contractions? The heart doesn’t stop its own rhythm until the day we die. It is constantly pumping..thump thump…thump thump…and it is constantly reminding us that in order to live we must all endure periods of expansion and contraction as this is what keeps things balanced in the Universe, nature, our bodies, and the world in which we live.
So I’m still in the midst of a period of contraction, and sometimes it’s painful, but I’m going to work very hard to allow whatever comes my way to pass through my life as nothing more than another privilege and opportunity to actually experience “being” alive. After all, if we did not have the contractions, we would not know we were experiencing an expansion either.