It’s rainy, that horrible rain which dribbles into your socks, seeps up the soles of your shoes and manages to dart into the gap between your clothing and your neck. It’s cold as well - you’re wriggling your fingers, wanting to know exactly why it had to be so darned freezing?
And it’s at this moment you realise: this is your life. This is me. And your heart does this little sinking thing. This isn’t what you expected. This isn’t what you wanted. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be! There’s no horrible cold rain in your vision. And you feel pretty grumpy.
You’ve heard people talk about learning how to find peace in every moment, feeling the now, the present, but you’ve not figured out how they manage to see rainbows and stars when your socks feel damp. Because You. Just. Can’t.
I know. I’ve felt it. I’ve been bummed that I don’t seem to have it all down pat yet either.
In fact, I’ve felt that pain of ’not yet there’, that disappointment - just yesterday.
Yet, I’ve also felt the joy and know the inner peace. I’ve started the journey, I’ve tasted that sweet honey. 'But where is it now?' I asked myself. ‘Where is it now, when I most need it?'
And so I drew on all I’ve read, all I’ve learned from perusing countless books, speaking with wonderful friends, scrolling through thousands of blog posts and newsletters, through coaching and realising. I scanned myself for all the thought processes and ideas I’ve explored and through the stores of thinking and brainstorming.
You see, I’ve listened and I’ve talked and I’ve watched and I’ve seen. I’ve followed and hesitated and taken tiny little steps.
And yesterday, I asked myself: What do I do in this situation? How do I experience joy when I’m not yet 'there' - when it’s not the way I want it? This day, now. With discomfort, negativity and the unpredictable British weather.
Three truths came into mind which helped me and which brought a smile to my face and I wanted to share with you for your own times of frustration and the moments you feel a bit, well, lost. For your own decisions. For the cold and rainy days.
1. We always have a choice
I could have neglected my little shopping trip and turned around and gone home. Back to a place where I have warmth, I can change my wet clothes for dry ones and dried my hair. I could have just done an about turn: gone back, leaving the shopping for another day and living off tuna sandwiches and tins of pineapple until it stopped raining and I could go out in the dry. Not what I’d planned, but I could have done it. I could have warmed myself up with a coffee. I could have gone into M&S and used the hand-dryer to blow dry my socks. I could have rung a friend who would dole out some sympathy. I had options, and you do too - whatever situation you face.
We can change jobs and relationships and whole life direction. We always have a choice. We can leave and we can stay - we determine the direction of our lives through our choices.
But, you say, I can’t leave, I can’t exit this situation. I have responsibilities, commitments. Ties to things and places. Yes you may do. But it’s your choice to stay and it’s your choice to go. You choice to keep things as they are and your choice to do things differently. It might take some courage to choose differently, it might require us to change. It might demand us to be creative with our meals and our mindsets. But responsibility is ours.
And in the meantime, we cling on to our visions of our high summer - bringing to mind the feeling of the sun’s warmth on our faces and skipping along dry pavements.
2. We choose through staying in the now
Back to the rain. It’s easy to lose the present moment, tempting to focus on the future: ‘when I get there’ or ‘when I get back home’, or the past:‘I wish it was still summer’ or ‘I hate the rain’.
Yet the power is in the now. It’s that moment you’re in, the moment that you decide to close this email... or to keep reading. The moment you choose to enjoy the soft refreshment of water from the sky, or see and delight in the blazing autumnal colours rather than focus on your discomfort. The moment you decide you just ‘are’, now, not the person you’ll be at the end of your to do list.
The ‘now’ is when we can turn back or keep going. The now is when we can redo our CVs. When we can have that uncomfortable conversation. When we can draw the line on our time and shut the door so we have 20 minutes just to ‘be’. Or to think. To plan. To brainstorm. As Leo Tolstoy says:
“Remember then: there is only one time that is important-Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power."
3. We can be grumpy or thankful
The grumpiness we feel when things aren’t as we planned them, aren’t as we want them, it can sudden upon us like a huge cloud. Yesterday, I asked myself: What did I want instead? I wanted it to be sunny, warm and peaceful. But that’s not what it is now. So how you stay in the now and choose to think differently? How did I get from cold, rainy, miserable to thankful?
I looked for those things to be thankful for. I stood a moment and asked myself if I could think of just one. And, of course, I could - there were hundreds. I was thankful that I can walk, that I had a coat and a scarf. Had the freedom to go home when I wanted. Had enough food in the house to last me if I decided to abandon the shopping. Thankful that I could get home and get warm and dry within about half an hour - if I wanted. That I knew a quick way home. That I could get the bus - for free. That I didn’t have much to carry. That there was no snow or ice, it was just rain. That I wasn’t hungry, that I had a home to go to.
It might seem simple but it has wonderful power. It brings us gently back and reminds us that our discomfort is a good teacher. It’s a motivator for change, and it’s a reminder to be celebrate what we have.