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February 16th, 2019
Any day presents the unlimited opportunity for chance to intercede. This can be good, but we are more likely to notice and remember the times when it’s been bad. The day is going well and suddenly some occurrence or some news comes rattling down the pipeline.
The whole day and perhaps more can be lost. We can feel derailed – like a train flung from it’s tracks.
But there is an important mistake in the way we use this word when it comes to our emotional experience and our productivity.
The mistake is the idea there was a track we were on in the first place.
Despite the order we try to haul out of a chaotic existence, we are still subject to that unpredictable future. And perhaps instead of trying to bolt down more order with reinforced efforts, perhaps we are better off to recalibrate our perspective and think about a strategy with which we can interact with this chaos when it comes up.
Being derailed in the middle of the day is not a matter of trying to turn around and get back to the track we were on. It’s a matter of seeing what we now have to work with and figuring out where we can go from this new place.
We might imagine being thrown into a new room and turning around to find the door through which we entered no longer exists. Imagine the disorientation. It’s not hard since we can all remember such instances in life where this allegory might resonate.
If, however, we keep in mind that we were never on some magical track in the first place, any situation is freed from the laurels of the past. That good track may have simply been an extended time of stable and predictable emotions. The days repeat and if it’s in a likeable fashion then we might be able to expect a fairly stable pattern of emotions. Of course this is a fantasy and we’re more likely to feel derailed sooner or later.
But each time this occurs can be viewed as an opportunity. Just think for a moment what kind of super power it is to be able to emotionally bootstrap one’s self to a more reliable form every and any time something bad happens. In fact, we might wonder if there is any other skill with regards to emotions that is more important than this ability.
Cultivating such a skill might sound impossible, like painting the Sistine Chapel, but this is due to our complete lack of technique, skill and most importantly: practice. Many skills look and sound impossible, but if they are skills, then this means that they’ve been developed and acquired by some other person, and the variance between all of us is refreshingly small, though many might argue. It boils down to something simple: what you put your mind to, materializes. And like anything the results are slow and nearly non-existent in the beginning.
But with consistent effort, a mindfulness can develop, and given enough time, derailments begin to look like interesting detours to a mind curious about the present moment.