When I walk on the beach, I don’t like to carry anything, including my shoes, so I leave them in my car and walk barefoot to the sand. The other day I was parked further away than usual from the entrance to my favorite beach. As I walked along the chevron pattern brick street, it seemed unusually difficult. It hurt my feet and I had not experienced that before. I began to watch where I stepped – turning my foot to be on one whole brick rather than across a couple of them - no improvement. Oh, I thought – I need to get to the sidewalk! Painfully I walked toward the sidewalk, wondering who (and judging!) chose the brick, laid it, was supposed to “finish” it, clean it, etc. until I finally stepped on the walk. No difference! Same brick, same pattern, still very rough with invisible rough spots or gravel or something very painful for my bare feet.
After a few more steps, now further from my shoes than the beach, I wondered how I could make it there, and why this walk was so different from the many before it? This one little bit of curiosity awakened me just enough to notice that it was only my left foot that was so pained. With one more step, I realized it was one specific place on my left foot! It finally dawned on me to look at my foot – and sure enough, there was a small stone stuck to the bottom of it. I knocked it off, and continued to the beach in complete comfort.
What took me so long to recognize my discomfort was due to something attached to my own self, and not because of the city planners or brick makers or brick layers or street cleaners? In retrospect it seems so dim witted it is embarrassing! It wasn’t the circumstances that made me uncomfortable, it was something in me. Yet this experience is a microcosm of my whole spiritual journey.
I suspect all of us have an “MO” (police lingo for modus operandi). Webster defines it as “a distinct pattern or method of operation especially one that indicates or suggests the work of a single criminal in more than one crime”.
As an adult who has choice, I am the “criminal” – the guilty one that commits crimes against myself as I try to circumvent universal law of cause and effect by placing blame for my discomfort out there.
I may be wrong, but I believe it is a legacy from my childhood. I have an older brother who was not happy to have me arrive into the family and who pestered and bedeviled me to unmanageable levels of frustration until he left home at 17. I was a victim to his size, strength, two year advantage of intellect, manipulation and childish selfishness.
My MO is victim/blame. But what does puzzle me sometimes is how long it took me – until I was nearly 40 – to begin to see that the common denominator in all of my discomfort was…ME!
Logically, I can’t blame my brother anymore. He was a child reacting to his own sense of unacceptance by our mother. I know that, because he has told me so. I was a child, insecure because of our mother’s inability to really bond with me, so in looking for connection and affirmation, I was an easy target for victimization.
What fascinates me now is how, even after all these years of psychological and spiritual learning and maturing, I instantly still blame/judge - not my brother anymore - but anyone and anything that I perceive as coming between me and what I want. What I know is this: while there are variations, and while I am quicker about noticing I am doing it, my shadow of wanting to blame and judge someone else for my discomfort rather than taking responsibility for my own reactions has never, and will likely never, go away. And when I am not awake, it can morph into blaming myself, that isn’t taking responsibility either. That is just self-destructive. Being a totally responsible person is not about other or self-blame or self-flagellation. It is not about fault or blame. It is about noticing how we are avoiding rational thought about the best and most mature and responsible way to think and act in the circumstances I am in now, so that I can restore the calm peace of my being.
I think all of us have an “MO” (a shadow that follows us around) of how we avoid taking responsibility for ourselves when we experience discomfort, unwanted change, or anything that is not to our liking. The best we can do is continue to do our best to stay awake, and notice what we are doing to avoid being a totally responsible person. Then make a choice to change our thinking, which will change our feeling, which will then change our belief about one more small but important aspect of our being.
For me, when I notice I am blaming and judging, the quickest way for me to get into alignment with Spirit is to be curious about my reaction.
What was I expecting? Who promised what I expected would happen? What do I notice about not having it my way? Why do I think I am ‘right’ and ‘they’ are wrong? How am I justifying making them wrong?
How am I justifying making myself right? How is my attitude about this contributing to my peace or my awareness of my oneness with Spirit so that I can be the best expression of Divine Being I came here to be?
When I can let go, and see that my discomfort is of my own making, my own choices, not the actions of someone else, I find my relationships are restored, my peace returns and I am once again in the flow of Divine Universal Energy. My daily reminder? Be curious! Stay awake!