I sat in my office yesterday meeting with a patient. My cell phone buzzed and vibrated to let me know there was an incoming call. I let I go and it was answered by voice mail. When I completed that therapy session I retrieved the voice mail left by my wife.
As I listened I began to the message I began to form an opinion about the content of the message. Assumptions are never a good idea for me, let alone anyone else. Making assumptions and forming opinions are activities I attempt to avoid at all costs.
My wife informed me there was a problem with our sump pump. The sump pump is on the other side of our duplex. The side occupied by Nancy’s oldest sister…the sister I could do without. I allowed my mind to run wild for a few minutes thinking what could possibly be wrong and assuming it was going to be an expensive repair bill not to mention a repair I could probably not complete. I have a great deal of fear when it comes to home repairs. I learned a great deal from Nancy’s father…but that doesn’t change the fact my brain doesn’t work that way.
Thoughts continued to race through my head like a train racing toward an intersection with no working brakes. I pulled back on the emergency brake and hoped it would hold. The squeal of metal on metal let me know there was a good chance I could stop the apparently out of control thoughts. As the thoughts began to grind to a halt, my phone rang and I was reminded my next patient was ready to be seen. I tucked the mess of thoughts away in a desk drawer and met with the patient.
I completed the therapy session and didn’t need to work hard to keep the thoughts of the sump pump at bay. I was having a good day and didn’t want to put a damper on my good mood.
I arrived home and ate dinner. I think it was spaghetti. I’m not sure because I forced it down so fast I don’t recall tasting it. I dreaded speaking to my sister-in-law to exact her assessment of the needed repairs. As I expected she informed me what would need to be done to accomplish the repair. The explanation was in painful detail. The sound coming from her mouth reminded me of the adult voices in a Charlie Brown cartoon. “Wha, Wha, Wha.”
As I left the house to survey the damage she walked her dog. Her plan, as always to survey my work and add her two cents.As she approached the driveway I retreated to the safety of my house so I didn’t need o speak with her. It was too late. The query had been posed. “What’s wrong with it?” “Can you fix it?” I felt trapped by the questions because it seems no matter the response there is always a comeback.
Once again I left the safety of my house and approached the plumbing. I withdrew my iPhone and snapped a photo of the damaged section of pipe. I retreated to the safety of my car and drove to the nearest home repair store and purchased the necessary items. After arriving home I completed the repair. Me wearing my headlamp in the solitude of the darkness.
As I drove to and from the store I thought about my behavior and attitude. I always wonder why people don’t have or can’t use common sense. Those are questions for which there are no logical responses so I rapidly, for my sanity shove them aside and do not allow them to enter my mind. I relaxed in the solitude knowing I had made a good choice to not react.
This morning I left my house at 5:30 AM. Running shoes laced tightly and looking forward to the solitude of the road. As I ran I thought of my plumbing repair and smiled to myself as I thought how my non-reaction worked to save me and shield me from the insanity of those things which I cannot control. As my run progressed I found my breath in rhythm with my stride. The run felt effortless and I felt complete. I thanked my meditation teacher for all I have learned and thanked myself for allowing myself to not, at least at this time get caught up in my thoughts and my desire to control what I ultimately know I cannot control.