Learning our way around in a human body is puzzling, complex, and rewarding, most of the time. I crept, and sometimes ran, through life, and though I became aware of more and more possibilities, it took time for me to fully understand the power of my mind. In college I learned William Glasser’s Reality Therapy and Choice Therapy. I was excited to know about choices. I studied positive mind psychology and went to positive thinking rallies, but it was only when I was in a relationship that tested my reality and my sanity that these theories came into play.
I was in relationship with a man who lied about almost everything. It was more than just a relationship; I am embarrassed to say we were married. That’s another story, but, in my defense, as if I need one, it was a rebound relationship. He convinced my mind, this charismatic con man, of all kinds of things, but always my gut knew better. I wanted to believe him, but my body and my unrelenting anxiety knew that his truths were peppered with fraudulent claims. He was devoted and loving to me. He helped me with so many life tasks: ran errands, took care of the lawn. I couldn’t imagine life without him. Life was too daunting to face alone, but his help and love came with a price tag – my sanity. My reality teetered as I stood on the side of a perpetual black hole. I felt irrational, anxious, and fearful. We were financially entangled, and money was my Achilles heel. Unbeknownst to me, he ran up my credit cards, sought expensive medical care we could not afford, and depleted my savings. I remember riding down the road in my grey Chevrolet and, as I reached for my radio, something clicked in. I no longer had to be at the effect of his lies. I was not yet brave enough to divorce him, but I had the courage and power to think and act a different way. It was as if the low point in my life assembled everything I read and studied and gave them back to me as a superpower – the power to choose.
Eventually I divorced him, thank God, but the lesson of choice never left. I rejoiced. I now had the key to the Universe; I could choose my reaction to life and even influence outcomes. What a relief, this magic of choice, but if choice was the key, why was my life not getting better? I might be steadier, but I still faced mountains I had never imagined. I climbed each one, looking for the key to fix what was wrong with me and my life, but as soon as I propped up one area of my life, another fell apart. Eventually I began to find the real magic. There was no key; life is to be faced one moment at a time, and if I would dwell in the source of who I was, and stay radically present, insurmountable problems became stepping-stones to greater states of peace and power.
I understood why great teachers answer a question with a question. Students want to know the how to’s of life, but the true teacher knows that hunting for answers to life’s dilemmas is a detour. Trying to solve problems is not the answer. The answer lies in a space that recognizes that, at the deepest level, problems do not exist. In looking back, I could see that those grave moments of despair drove me deeper into myself and gave me the courage to surrender to the unknown.
Learning not to look for the key to life’s problems gives us a tremendous freedom. It frees up our energy. Figuring things out, making sure we are not being taken advantage of, trying to be important, not looking like a fool, all this requires searching, answers, and protection. It is all a burden we were never meant to carry. Life is simpler. The only thing we need to cover is the now moment. Our egoic mind loves our burdens. They give us an identity and can even make us seem special. Martyrs are respected and admired for what they came through, but we do not need a dilemma to shine in the glory of who we are. A Course in Miracles states that simplicity is difficult for twisted minds, and, while life is complex, there is always a simple or simpler road we can follow through our complexity. My deceased sister informed me, when I was young, that self-realization can occur in anyone. We do not have to be important, learned, or even wise; we just need to be present for our life. I did not believe her then. But now, years later, I know what she tried to tell me. Life is not what we think it to be; it is what it is, and that is okay. The power to choose is but a road sign pointing us to wholeness. My favorite thought these days is, “Drop it. Drop it. Drop it.” I do not always succeed, but I find that when I drop the need to see life as a problem to be solved, stop hunting for a fix, and follow my drop it suggestion, that everything in my life becomes EZier and EZier.