“Every time we say ‘I must do something’ it takes an incredible amount of energy. Far more than physically doing it.” –Gita Bellin
I pressed the buttons on the MetroCard machine Friday and watched as absolutely nothing happened.
I had just struggled through a herd of cattle-minded commuters to get down the stairs at the Courtland Street R station—and all for naught, or so it seemed.
“Oh, for Christ’s sake!” I said much louder than I should have.
I was cold, tired, and extremely fed up. It had snowed the night before, the temperature had dropped accordingly, and I was so goddamn sick of winter.
I was doing a very good job of feeling sorry for myself when I heard a voice coming from behind me.
“That happens sometimes when it gets cold,” the voice said.
I turned around, embarrassed by my outburst, and saw a rather heavyset middle-aged woman standing before me. Between having my vision impaired by my hood and my mind clouded by self-pity, I just plain didn’t see this lady standing so close to me.
I went to a second machine, repeated the refill ritual, and everything worked perfectly. Now I felt like a real dope, losing my cool in public like that.
And the thing is I had just come off a great day where things had gone insanely right for me. It started Wednesday evening when I heard the weather report warning of heavy snow for Thursday morning.
I go to my gym on Thursday morning and I couldn’t possibly miss my beloved boxing class over a damn blizzard. This was an outrage!
But then at some point I was able to step outside of myself and see that I was getting far too upset over a potentially missed gym workout. There were plenty of chances to take a boxing class on Friday if I felt the urge.
Put 'Em Up!
I suspect this insight came from my daily meditation, which helps to tone down the laser light show in my brain. Whatever the reason, I just decided to let my worries go.
And then everything fell into place. I got to the gym with no problem whatsoever and had a fantastic workout. I pumped on the battle ropes, hit the weights, and a great time in the boxing class.
And better yet, a couple of guys in the class whom I hardly know were suddenly striking up conversations with me. It was crazy.
At one point during the class I actually asked God to help keep this fire burning in me—even when the rains come.
I’m slowly learning the difference between letting go and giving up. Letting go means you free yourself from the worries and pressures of your goals, whereas giving up means just that—throwing in the towel, walking away, and surrendering without a fight.
Stepping outside of yourself is so important. One time during class I was trying to balance myself on the BOSU ball when for some odd reason, I started thinking of this wonderful woman I had dated and then lost due to my various hang-ups.
“You’re a loser,” this voice inside my head said.
Seriously. This how I talk to myself.
But instead of being crushed and hurt by those harsh words, I was able to distance myself from this senseless self-loathing and see that the hateful voice was an old recording that had no place in my present life.
I don’t want to use the word “breakthrough” because I think you can put far too much pressure on yourself by declaring that you are now cured of all that ails you. But I do feel like I’m making some progress here.
So my little freak-out with the MetroCard machine on Friday morning didn’t mean I was a failure. It was merely a minor misstep.
I thanked the woman who had helped me and told her to have a nice day. I was all ready to emotionally bash myself for not being more like her, but then I shifted my point of view a little.
This woman wasn’t here to shame me; she was here to guide me, to show me a better way of living. Wasting time getting upset with myself just delays my journey. It was time to let go and get the fire back.