The multitude of stars in the clear night sky may come close to the number of times I complain in one day. Every moment a choice point and once the complaints fire up, they carry enough momentum and illuminate my inner sky. When other people are enlisted in my complaints, their blinding light increases.
Have you ever considered where complaints arise from? Every situation where we want something and don’t want the other thing fertilizes this function. We snapshot this ‘injustice’ and our blame story begins.
Here is an everyday example:
Let’s say you really need to pee while driving on the highway. You squirm and wait until it is absolutely necessary to stop. You quickly get off the next exit; find a clean place and when you get there someone has just walked in and snapped the lock.
You have to wait.
You pace, you look at the racks of fake food and it dawns on you they are taking a really long time. A reall-llll-y long time!
“What is wrong with them- didn’t they see me?”
“Why did I have to stop here?”
“If only I had gotten here a few minutes earlier?”
This is not a new situation for we humans to be in, though the contexts change. The Quran– a sacred book filled with layers of wisdom and guidance- says:
“…It may happen that you hate a thing which is good for you and
you love a thing which is bad for you.
G-d knows and you do not.” (2:216)
Every parent who has tried to get their kids to eat what they have cooked for dinner knows this script all too well.
But why are things happening the way they are? Why did you have to choose this rest stop at this very moment? Is there any way to see the world that is unfolding in the way G-d sees it, beyond desire’s limited vision?
This from The Cloud of Unknowing, an anonymous work of Christian mysticism written in the latter half of the 14th century:
“For G-d can well be loved, but He cannot be thought. By love He can be grasped and held, but by thought, neither grasped nor held. And therefore, though it may be good at times to think specifically of the kindness and excellence of G-d… it must be cast down and covered with a cloud of forgetting.”
Forgetting, what does that mean?
“And you must step above it stoutly but deftly, with a devout and delightful stirring of love, and struggle to pierce that darkness above you; and beat on that thick cloud of unknowing with a sharp dart of longing love, and do not give up, whatever happens.”
Ah, we come back to love…from the head trying to figure things out, being expected to figure things out- forgetting this- and moving into the heart.
When you are stuck on complaining in that rest stop, you cannot see the rainbow outside the storefront window or appreciate the kindness you are extending to another with the same need. You cannot take part in the myriad other gifts the uncomfortable moment is birthing.
So what can we do when we face situations where we are distressed and hear ourselves complaining?
Here is what doesn’t work.
Do not yell this at yourself…
(insert your least favorite parental tone of voice here.)
Instead, hit the sacred pause button.
What if you took the content of your list of complaints and reset them as a prayer from a mind that doesn’t know? Then you aren’t suppressing what you want but turning it over to a Wiser place.
“My bladder is going to burst!” Pause…
- Please show me how to be with this pressure.
“Why did I stop here?” Pause…
- Please show me what to do next.
“Why can’t I just grin and bear it?” Pause…
- Please help me slow down and experience patience.
Prayers can arise from a place of need when the mind cannot bring peace to the confusing, intolerable situation anymore. Answers to prayers are always present and we can choose to pay attention to the generous responses that come, more than to the voices that complain.
Please bring your complaints to my services page and let’s chat with them.