These Things Are Sent To Test Us
"…there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2, William Shakespeare
The young man had been having a bad morning, a night of sleep plagued by disturbing dreams had morphed into a foul mood made all the worse by emotional hypersensitivity. Arriving at his favourite café with plans for some ‘me’ time to reset his jangled state his hopes were soon dashed by the persistent, and truly poor, harmonica playing of a beggar.
Resisting the temptation to have a monumental and very public emotional outburst he reluctantly gave up on his plans and climbed back onto his bike for the ride home. Channelling his frustrations into the pedals he powered along the path through the park weaving in and out of the pedestrians. Out of the corner of his eye a man stepped onto the path from the car park and it was only a reflex flick of the handlebars that saved them from colliding.
“Hey slow down”, said the old man.
Without thinking, and charged by the emotions of the mornings events, the young man lashed out, “F@ck you!”, he yelled.
Turning to see the effects of his outburst, the young man was shocked to stare straight into the bright eyes of the mystical old man he had met before. It was as if time stood still, one part of him wanted to tuck his tail between his legs and scurry away as fast as possible, pretending all the while, like a naughty school boy, that it just hadn’t happened. Another part, a grown up part, slammed on the brakes and turned the bike around.
The old man stood waiting for him as if he knew all along that there was no choice but for him to come back.
“I… I… I’m sorry”, stammered the young man, “I’m having a bad day, I…”
The old man held up his hands to silence him, “These things are sent to test us”, he said simply.
A wave of peace flowed over the young man. The mere presence of the old man and his simple acceptance of his foul outburst caused the dark cloud that had shadowed him to evaporate instantaneously.
“I’m sorry”, the young man started again, “there was a harmonica player at the café who…”
The old man chuckled, “Don’t blame anyone unless you want to be the victim. Do you want to be a victim?” he asked rhetorically, “Of course not!”. He chuckled louder amused by his own observation.
“Life goes in cycles. Some days are good, some days are bad, some times are hard, some times are easy, it’s not linear, it’s not predictable – otherwise it would be boring!” he laughed again, “What good would it be if life were predictable? How would you grow if you had no challenges in your life?”
The emotion welled up again in the young man, “Yes I know, I know, but I’ve been having a bad day! I didn’t sleep well and then the stupid beggar…”
The old man cut him off, his levity had vanished replaced by a tone as sharp as a razor, “But is that how you want to be?”
“It’s the best I can do!”, the young man replied.
“Is it?”, the old man asked sharply.
The two glared at each other, like an old and a young bull. At any moment it seemed the young man’s emotions would get the better of him but at the same time the intensity of the old man’s stare – his pure will – held the situation in check.
“It is really?” he asked again “Is it really the best you can do? We are limited only by our beliefs. If you believe that’s your best then it will be. So tell me again – is it really the best you can do?”
Time froze as the emotion swirled about them. Slowly the energy dissipated and the young man broke from the old man’s glare. He hung his head in shame.
“No”, he finally admitted.
“Good, good, good”, the old man clapped his hands, “First step accomplished!
Now next step – stop beating yourself up! Lift your head up high! Accept your failures and choose to love and accept yourself unconditionally. Take responsibility for your actions and do something about it!”
The breath flowed back into the young man. He straightened up, stood tall and looked directly into the old man’s eyes.
“I’m sorry, please forgive me”
The old man hugged him, and as he did he chuckled again, “It doesn’t take much to push you over the edge does it? Instead of reacting, use these things to strengthen your Will. They are sent to us for a reason – they are sent to test us. Seize the opportunity. The easy way is to react and to make excuses for why you aren’t being who you really want to be. It’s not your fault, you didn’t get enough sleep, you had a bad childhood, you deserve it, they deserve it, it’s not hurting anyone, everyone else is doing it so you have no choice, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…
These are just words! Real growth, real life, comes when you stop making excuses and ask instead – what do I really want? and how do I need to be to have that?
When you get to that point, then you have the opportunity to claim your freedom by choosing how you want to be.”
In peace and love always.