For a long time now my main mission in life has been to prove that it’s easy, fun, and magical. The few “guidelines” we need to follow that make this existence worth every moment is almost laughable. This doesn’t mean there won’t be times of frustration and grief. All of us have the occasional fire that needs extinguished. We encounter unexpected emergencies, situations, and setbacks that can be easily labeled as unwanted, annoying, and painful. Me too. Happens all the time. I wish it didn’t, but there is a part of the equation I always have control over, and that’s how I choose to react.
Water puts out fire. If you disagree with this, you can stop reading now, it won’t do any good to go further. When the fires of life rear up and block our progress, the watery equivalent is necessary to clear the path so we may resume our journey. I’m sure this makes sense. More fire will obviously increase and lengthen the conflict, yet this is the preferred method of dealing with problems as most encounter them. Don’t believe me? Let’s see if any of these illustrations sound familiar.
- A man hears a friend has died. He decides to get drunk.
- A person is suspected of stealing at the office. Angered, they go home and spend the night thinking of ways to get back at their accuser.
- A supervisor at work is tired of never being listened to. As a result he has a meeting and demands even louder that his orders must be remembered and followed.
- A group that opposes war goes on a march to voice opinions against the enemy.
- A preacher spends his life pointing out what is wrong with the world and why people will suffer if they do not change.
- A woman complains they are unloved and never going to find the right person
- A person spends most of their time blaming. They wait for others to realize their mistakes.
These are no doubt stereotypical situations, but the futility of their approach is obvious. All are cases of fighting fire with fire. Let’s turn around the same ideas and see how they look if symbolic water is used to confront these circumstances.
- A man hears a friend has died. He goes home and starts writing about him. It becomes the eulogy to his funeral.
- A person is accused of stealing at the office. Intrigued, they wonder if they can help find the real culprit. They spend the night formulating a strategy to help in the investigation.
- A supervisor at work is tired of never being listened to. He realizes that HE cannot listen while he is talking. He calls a meeting and asks of his employees what they want of him.
- A group that supports peace goes on a march and voices opinions why their way of life is productive and desirable.
- A preacher spends his life pointing out what is right and good in the world and why people will be happier if they align with these examples.
- An unloved woman becomes full of praise and love for others so she will attract someone who is likewise.
- A person spends most of their time taking responsibility. They realize they hold the power to change their life.
Why fight against what we don’t want when cheering for what we do want will have a more creative outcome? Remember, focusing on the eradication of what we wish to eliminate does nothing to build a vision of what will replace it. Those people who move forward with determination and resolve are also the ones who continue to ignore their critics. They know it’s a waste of time to defend against attitudes and situations that are beyond their control; here lies the need for the serenity prayer. Do not, however, misinterpret this action as opening up yourself to attack. The easiest way to define the best objective is to use action to attract what is desired, and reserve reaction to dissuade what threatens growth. It really comes down to not using anything negative as a tool of progress. Don’t fight for what you want, work for it. Don’t label your situation as problematic, label it as opportunistic. Don’t dread the unknown, be excited by it. There are no mistakes, just learning experiences, and these examples aren’t clichéd, they are tried-and-true.
When I let the fires “out there” ignite my own, it’s usually fueled by an overabundance of impatience and selfishness. “My way and fast” usually leads to some sort of catastrophe. At the very least it’s rude and thoughtless. The first set of situations listed above are self-centered, while the second set is based in humility, and that’s really all it’s about. How may I serve? How can I contribute to the dreams of others? Let me offer my assistance. Let me help. It’s kind of weird, but I have more interest and gain more satisfaction in helping others to achieve their dreams rather than work exclusively on my own. Imagine if everyone did this? What a paradise would come to existence. I am water. Show me the fires of destruction and I will rain upon them.
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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood