“The impact and meaning of a catastrophe are not in the event itself. The ability to tolerate it is a function not of what happens but our relationship to ourselves and our own minds. In that simple realization is absolute freedom.” (excerpted from Lost and Found by Geneen Roth)
This quote hit me squarely between the eyes. It was so powerful for me, I sat straight up from my slouching posture as I was reading and thought “OMG! That makes complete and total sense!” And it comes at a time when I am right in the middle of what my mind is defining as a catastrophe, yet I am observing myself be able to address each day with poise, posture, dignity and more and more often, freedom from the circumstances, while still working thru the circumstances. It is an interesting observation to realize that we are sovereign from our circumstances.
It reminded me of once at a conference about 6 years ago, I heard a guy that was giving a talk say “Rules afford us freedom”. Now this guy was loonier than a fruit-cake, had already sported hugely oversized green-lensed glasses to illustrate a point about perception (meaning that when you’re lenses are green, everything you see is green…to you); he paraded all 500 or so of us in the room thru some sort goofy game that was a cross between limbo and duck-duck-goose and bounced all around the room booming with high energy, as if he was performing on a stage. Well, I guess he was performing since he was a keynote speaker, but he acted more like he was performing for our entertainment, than our education.
So by now, you might have picked up on my judgements as a broadcast of where I was in my life those 6 years ago. If it wasn’t apparent, I was judgmental (obviously!), self-righteous, jealous, arrogant, intolerant and living in my head (it would be more accurate to say that I lived as if I was only a head)!
This gentleman was simply living out loud, living authentically, demonstrating an enthusiasm for his life and a passion for his work–precisely what he was trying to teach us to do!
So what does he have to do with dealing with a catastrophe? I suppose not much other than the paradoxical nature of both. The ideas that rules afford us freedom and that catastrophes have nothing to do with the catastrophe itself and everything to do with what’s going on inside of us; well this just flys in the face of all modern thought. But that doesn’t make it any less true!
I am learning that the physical forms and beings of this world are tools that help us relate to our own spiritual nature. We have relation-ships with people, material things, our bodies, experiences; and from these things we extract some meaning about ourselves. They give our lives context, as opposed to the alternative of floating around in the ether of spiritual space.
So, if it is true that we are spiritual beings, meaning that we are so much more than the things we can see, feel, touch, and interact with; then it would also stand true that there is more to life than only that which we can perceive or believe to be true. That maybe, just maybe, these things that seem counter-intuitive really do have some merit and when we can surrender ourselves to their essence, we just might be amazed at how much liberty they can afford us to live our lives from the inside out–from that core place of sovereignty and authenticity within us all. After all, we don’t have to believe it to be true for it to work!