Friday, January 20, 2012

Sufferin' Succotash

I pushed the wrong button on my TV remote recently and the screen went haywire. I lost the signal, couldn’t get the screen to stop jumping or the snow to leave the monitor. So I turned off the set. A few days later I turned the television back on and the problem was still there. A few hours after that I tried again, thinking that the situation was going to change from the minimal and repetitive action I was taking. It didn’t.

As I mused about this later I found humor in both my level of denial and the fact that even though I intellectually knew that I was going to have to do something different in order to get a different result I kept hoping the problem would rectify itself with, well, the push of a button. (And believe me I pushed every one of them on the remote and within me.)

To see my own pattern of behavior is a good start. But the bigger question that comes to mind is how long does one have to live and play in suffering before you really do something about it?

I pondered this as I raced to the train station for the third time in as many weeks. The train I often take to Manhattan was changed to a 10 minute earlier arrival time. I needed to do something different in order to not miss the train. For those first three tries, I attempted: driving faster, running over to the track once I parked the car, and stressing out considerably. In addition to this doing nothing for my adrenal glands, the train pulled away from the station without me.

As I sat in the depot, waiting for the next Amtrak coach I thought of an Einstein quote noting the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Then, what came to mind as I began writing this post is a teaching in the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, that has to do with avoiding pain that has not yet come. Basically, the choices that we make for ourselves can have some effect over whether we are in a state of happiness or suffering.

Well, I had demonstrated the suffering mode over the course of nearly a month with the train and over a week with the television. Then one night as I was setting my alarm thinking about the dreaded race to the tracks the next morning it dawned on me that what I hadn’t yet tried was setting my alarm 15 minutes earlier. In that true Thomas Edison light bulb moment I avoided pain that had not yet come. I caught the train and let go of the suffering. And like what happened when I (finally) called my TV satellite provider and they walked me through the necessary steps, I re-booted my system to create a shift.

So, as we are still in the month of January, here’s to a new year of new shifts!