I use the phrase “Sometimes that happens” often enough that when the play-doh factory broke, one of the little boys I nanny for, who was 3 at the time, turned to me and asked, “Does that happen sometimes?” I answered in the affirmative and we went back to playing.
Side note: I’m thinking this might make for a great children’s book. I’d call it Sometimes That Happens, team up with a local artist, and include a variety of kid-related topics all ending with the catch phrase: Sometimes that happens!
Here are a couple of things I’ve experienced over the past week that happen sometimes:
– Your stint as Movie Captain with the online platform Gathr becomes more than you bargained for when you’re forced to field a wealth of confusion after they email your ticket holders about a change in venue to a theater located 2,500 miles away. Sometimes that happens!
– After finally deciding that no, you will not drive 4-hours south directly following a 4-day camping trip with friends in hopes of seeing the full solar eclipse and you’re perfectly happy to see the 90% visible from Missoula, you change your mind after listening to a NASA historian give a talk about the eclipse at your local library, where he offers the analogy that the difference between seeing a partial vs. a total solar eclipse is the difference between reading about chocolate and eating it. Sometimes that happens!
I find this phrase incredibly helpful and use it often throughout the day. It helps me to not get bogged down in my set expectations, plans, or attachments to how I think things “should” be. And it’s a work in progress, of course, too. Some things are easier to transition along with than others.
As I often say: The practice continues!
I nanny part-time for two little boys. Yesterday we were all playing with some sticker boards, each depicting different landscapes with associating reusable stickers to place around them. There were boards and stickers to create an ocean, jungle, safari, farm and a prehistoric themed scene. We were looking at the under water ocean board, filled with a large host of sea life stickers, when I pointed to a small bat and said, light-heartedly, “Hey! What’s that bat doing in the ocean?!” Without missing a beat the oldest one, Finn, who’s soon to turn 3, said, very matter-of-factly, “That’s an ocean bat.” When I inquired further, about this fabled creature I had never heard about, he added that he had seen one in person the day before, in New Jersey. As the stickers were all cartoonish in nature the bat in question had purple ears. Finn then went on to say how bats that were pink lived out of the water but purple ones were most assuredly known as “purple ocean bats.” Not wanting to dissuade his lively imagination I simply smiled and nodded along, enjoying the creative story he had made up on the spot.
I offer this jovial account to help depict one of the fruits that develops as a result of the practice of sitting meditation: learning how to go with the flow. Of course, I’m not suggesting we come up with tall tales in order to make sense of things – in fact, I’d strongly warn against that – but we can learn how to creatively adapt to ever changing circumstances as they unfold, weaving a new story to help us move forward. The practice of sitting meditation can greatly aide us in these efforts.
When boiled down, sitting meditation can be described as a good way to become an observer of life. When we practice meditation we’re learning how to be with ourselves, just as we are, and to observe the nature of our thoughts that drift in and out. That’s why it’s often very challenging to do it. Most of us haven’t learned how to keep good company with our own person. Most of us live in a constant stream of self-judgement and condemnation, especially towards what arises in our mental landscape. When we’re able to develop our powers of observation we gain much needed perspective, which allows us to move through life with more ease.
Going with the flow of life for many of us does not come naturally, it’s something we have to practice. Our tendency, more likely, is to fight against what’s happening. I’m seeing this currently play out with many people in town who are dismayed at our recent arctic blast from the north which plummeted our mountain town into an early winter spell.
In talking with my husband Mike about the common, yet fairly ridiculous, notion of complaining about the weather he made a comment that I hadn’t thought of before, which helped to shed light on this rather challenging issue for me (I really don’t enjoy hearing person after person continually gripe about the weather). He said that people tend to complain about the weather because they’re uncomfortable and people aren’t used to being uncomfortable. This was a great insight for me. Many of us can spend our whole lives trying to avoid, cover up, forget, ignore, or otherwise distract ourselves when feelings of discomfort arise. So of course it makes sense that to be inconvenienced by the icy roads, low temperatures, and blasting winds is not a welcomed state of being! I used to think that an insight had to be some new, fancy, grand idea but, more often, insights are more unassuming and involve simply helping to develop a deeper understanding of something or someone.