The other day, someone brought me food. I had carefully asked for four slices of bread and he had confirmed my order. But when he came, he came only with two.
I could have gotten upset over not getting what I want, my subconscious gave itself a challenge: “Let’s see if two slices will work for me as well as four slices usually do.”
In the split second that I made this decision, I instantly became aware that what just happened now signified a massive shift in my consciousness. Normally, I would be deeply frustrated at the mediocrity that led this person to disregard carefully exchanged instructions. But, here, rather than frustration, I reacted with curiosity.
Of course there are people who will say ‘No, Chude, that’s wrong. You must insist on high standards’, and those people would be missing the point.
I am speaking not about allowing mediocrity, but about accepting reality.
The reality is that, despite my best efforts, the mediocrity had already happened. I could react to it with frustration, or I could react to it with creativity.
Frustration leads to one response – anger. Creativity opens up an infinity of responses – I could calmly correct him, I could take time to help him do better, I could find out the formal ways of reprimand, or I could do what I did, which was discover how best this new situation could serve me.
Some people call it listening to Life.
It’s a way of living where you don’t see ‘accidents’: instead, you see possibilities everywhere. Every mistake, every error, every ‘wrong turn’ becomes an opportunity to see if what you have could be better than what you wanted.
All the time, of course, you retain your right (no one ever took it away) to say ‘Nah, I don’t want this. What I wanted earlier is still what I want’.
I apply this in my life all the time with increasing gusto.
I am a planner, scheduling my days in detail, but leaving enough space for surprise and serendipity. And when a surprise comes, I expect it. I smile and I wonder ‘Hmm. What can you be useful for? And could you be even better than what I wanted in the first place’.
I cannot explain to you what joy and wonder that produces from me moment to moment.
Like with the bread. I realized I didn’t need two more slices. That mistake continues to save me 160 calories to this day.