Many years ago when visiting the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. I purchased an item in the gift store that has blessed me in many ways. It was a long handled wooden spoon on which these words were carved:
Take things by their smooth handle. Thomas Jefferson.
For years I have reflected on this statement and have become ever more aware that I choose how I will see—and thus “handle”—each situation.
My seeing makes all the difference. Seeing comes from what I believe, deep in my heart.
For instance, when things are difficult, or there is suffering, there are an infinite number of ways of interpreting the situation. What am I believing?
I can demand that someone do something different. I can angrily state my opinion. I can complain about what has taken place, blame someone, or storm out of the room. The list goes on and on.
Or I can look for the smooth handle. In this case I need to stop and ask myself outcome I desire.
When stuff happens we all have a choice of our interpretation. Our action will depend on how we are seeing.
Will we be led by our unquestioned habits, allowing fear and impatience take over? Will we act or speak impulsively, mistaking this for spontaneity?
If we want a smoother life then we need to look where this will take us.
Experience has shown me how vital it is to take the long view, to look down each possible avenue to see where this particular thought system and action will lead.
So, with difficult situations I first find my way to my journal.
By exploring my thoughts and feelings I discover the engine that is driving me. By doing this I am already beginning to take things by their smooth handle.
As I patiently, persistently inquire into what is going on in my mind, what my attitudes and fears are, the jagged places soften and begin to even out.
For I begin to see things differently. Other sides to the issue open up and I perceive differently. The tightness begins to ease up.
Long experience has taught me there is always something I can do. I am not a bystander in life. I make choices.
One small change changes everything.
I can pray. I can meditate. I can dialogue with the “other” in my journal. I can give thanks that there is a harmonious and respectful way to move through this experience, no matter how devastating it appears.
I can choose equanimity; this means the scales are not weighed down unevenly with one side competing or fighting against the other.
There is always hope. Mind is the beginning of everything. As I touch the issue differently within me, life changes.
By taking that first step, the next step opens. Other choices become available.
Will I return to Source, where all possibilities exist, where all is love? This is a choice I make over and over, daily, hourly, for I desire peace and harmony.
Will I remember to love the frightened child within? And to love all the frightened children in the situation? For where there is anger and hurt, there is fear.
Life contains ups and downs. I don’t have to fall apart in the down cycle, and I don’t have to get high or excited on the up cycle.
Equanimity is a state that is born from many, many small choices of remembering that God is the Source of all, and that God is the Presence of Absolute Good.
God is all pervasive. Therefore all is well. This is the way it is for now. It will change.
Through this process I have discovered that life doesn’t gouge so sharply; where even the pitfalls become more bearable.
Care to try it with whatever you are facing?
It’s especially helpful in working with disappointments.
We can moan over them, declaring how awful they are, or we can pause, get out our journal, breathe deeply and ask ourselves what outcome we desire. If it is for another person to change, we are on a dead end street.
Are we falling into that place that feels so familiar, getting angry, feeling resentful or sorry for ourselves? Those are the rough handles, for they will prolong suffering.
By paying attention to our attitudes, we are taking the smooth handle.
Yes, being human is difficult. But there is a harmonious way through!
Accepting that there are joys and sorrows in life is not a barrier to happiness, but a place to start.
By accepting “what is” we are in a clearer, calmer position to assess the various possibilities.
As we consistently do this joy will eventually surface. The gift is buried within the problem.
“What we seek is seeking us,” as the sages tell us.
This is a smooth handle.
In lovingkindness, Rev. Billie