Saturday, May 17, 2008
"Rrrrhhhhhhhhhhh," he screams with the cry of a gutted animal. He has been screaming like this in intervals all afternoon, an emotional reaction to the interactive video game he plays with his friends. They all shout and yell at their chosen 2 dimensional characters on the flat-screen TV, but one has far superior lungs. I can hear them laughing, I can hear the joy in their voices as they collectively identify with their games of war and strategy. And yet, each shout, so loud that it reverberates in each room of this small house, is enough to make me cringe. As much as I would like to concentrate on my writing tasks at hand, I find myself preoccupied with their assembly. Instead of focusing on myself, I sit here, tense, waiting for another cry…the moments of silence are thick with suspended animation…and when the "rrrraaaaahhhhhrrrrr" inevitably comes, my body contorts, my face scrunches with the guttural squeal. I think about marching to the living room and asking them to maintain quiet, I find myself getting angry, coming up with excuses why I can’t seem to write, why I can’t enjoy space or complete my task. And my machine says, "It’s because of them…their noise, their presence." And perhaps, a small glimmer of this is true. But true freedom comes from being able to Work within any setting, to maintain composure and control my machine and its reactions within any setting. There will always be places, forces, and people we can consider obstacles, annoyances, and distractions; but inner will is developed by remaining steady and following through, despite the things that will work to distract you. Sounds and people, weather and mood…so much stimulus comes from the outside, but it is truly OUR reaction to these things that matters. We can chose to either use these sounds and people for our practice or chose to identify with them and lose focus. Distractions flow like a torrential river, moving unabated through our physical and physic realms. THIS JUST IS, it cannot be changed…it can only be escaped by isolated living in the mountains or monasteries or creating sound-free chambers…but even these would do little to stop the distractions of our own minds. These forces all come from within. We allow ourselves to be annoyed, we allow ourselves to become identified and preoccupied with the person laughing loudly in the movie theatre. We allow our nice dinner to be spoiled by the table of semi-drunk middle aged women in the far corner of the restaurant, oblivious to evil eye stares and exasperated sighs of those around them. These people are not there to harm you, however clueless they may be of their effect on others in the same space. Our goal is not to change others, to show them how to become better, more aware people. Our objective is to work on ourselves, in every moment we are conscious enough to do so. The shouting teenagers, the hyena laughing movie patrons, they are real opportunities for our Work, opportunities to maintain awareness and steady breathing. We cannot maintain anything outside ourselves, indeed, it is a lifetime of work to maintain the landscape within, you may as well give up any fantasy of controlling anything beyond the fleshy walls of your machine. Submit to the sounds, sacrifice the twinges and evil looks, they only serve to keep you asleep. It is your Work, your breathing, your objectives that You must focus on. Allow the distractions, and the energy that they evoke, to flow into you and be transformed… use it, allow the annoyances to energize you towards a higher creative state.