photo courtesy of abc.net.au
During a recent business trip I found myself coping with airline glitches. The experience was aggravating, but I found myself handling the ordeal in a way that was new for me. In the past, I have usually recognized waking dreams after the fact. When I’d get home and start to rehash recent events, that’s when it would occur to me, “Oh yeah. I was in the middle of a waking dream; maybe I should do the symbols.”
This time, I recognized the dream as it was transpiring, and knowing it was a dream offered me a whole new opportunity to experience life from a more metaphysical perspective. That was invaluable!
For me, the author who has addressed this the most helpfully, is Eckhart Tolle. He gives great importance to “surrendering to what is.” He distinguishes this way of approaching life from the method most of us use, myself included. He points out that most of us try to assume that life will behave the way we envision it. In my case with the airlines, I envisioned smooth flights on time with courteous airline personnel, all at a great, competitive price. But reality presented me with something else. When there was a conflict between what I felt was called for and what actually happened, I took a stand on principle: “You’ve reneged on your promise,” I argued in my mind. “You’re not fulfilling your obligation to me. I paid for better treatment, and you’re not living up to the bargain.” That was true, but there was little I could have accomplished by butting heads with the poor fellow at the check in counter.
What Eckhart would have advised, and what I actually began to do in this situation, was simply to detach myself from the drama and watch it go by. Observe it instead of fighting it. Surrender to it, and in the process, feel your blood pressure drop. That’s what happened to me. I found my mood changing for the better. I began to see a certain ironic humor in the whole fiasco, and mostly, I felt better. There was nothing I could have done to make the airplane take off anyway.
It is important to state that Eckhart does not advocate being passive. On the contrary, he encourages full participation in life. But he advises acting from a neutral, uncharged mental state rather than from emotional turmoil. For me, that meant, first, coming home and taking time to put my delayed affairs back in order. Then, I did, indeed, reply to all the requests by the airline to give them feedback. But I did so in the most even-handed manner that I could think of; I worked hard to make certain that my words were as neutral as I could conceive of—even as I informed them that they had lost my patronage.
And finally, I sat down and worked through the symbols of my waking dream. After all, life does not arbitrarily subject us to meanness; I was given this experience for a reason, and I was most anxious to learn the message that was being delivered to me. In that way, my “ordeal” became an invaluable learning tool!