Nothing in Nature resists itself; what it is, what it needs, where it belongs, what it is experiencing. Nor does it resist what comes its way; responding instead, according to its own capacity, on an as needed basis; doing what needs to be done as things come up. In other words, all creatures in the natural world know what they are to their very core, what they are capable of, and not one of them expects the rest of Nature to do anything other than what it does. We, as humans, on the other hand, can spend days, weeks, years, a lifetime even, resisting what it is that we do not want to see. Or cannot be with. Or do not want to be happening around us. And it shows in both body and mind in all the ways that our minds tighten, and our bodies sicken.
Recently, I came smack up against a pattern of resistance in my own life, and it came voluntarily. We are building a room onto our existing home, and the lead carpenter was going to be working alone, though he really needed some help. Since it’s my husband’s company doing the work, and since I had the time, I volunteered to be the unskilled labor for the day; doing whatever grunt work on the ground needed doing. Only. What the carpenter needed me to do was not only not on the ground, it was up on the highest ladder he had, standing on the top step, the one you are not supposed to stand on (his words), all while reaching and stretching myself out beyond the safety and stability of the ladder, while using a power sander to get to beams located at cathedral ceiling height.
Right off, I knew I was in trouble. But I thought, “Well, maybe it won’t be so bad.” Only, it was. As bad as I remembered it being, and worse. Just to be clear, it wasn’t like my mind was thinking;“This is dangerous, I might fall.” That, I could have worked with. No, this was different. My entire body was lit up with fear. More to the point, paralyzed; absolutely refusing to move. It felt as impossible and unreasonable to my body to be up on that ladder as putting an elephant in a tree and asking it to move around doing something. Not natural. Not reasonable. Not possible.
So, there I was clinging to the ladder, just being there with my frozen self. Through the intensity, I could feel that I was at a crossroads; one of those make or break moments in life when you can decide to do what you have always done, or do something different. What I “normally” would have done would have been to clench my teeth, bear down, and force myself through it. But on this day, something was encouraging me to move beyond old habits and stories of the mind. Something was urging me to stay exclusively with myself and what was happening in that moment. And what immediately arose was, “I can’t do this.” This simple, honest, true statement was enough in and of itself. As a matter of fact, it was more than enough. It was downright revolutionary for me, a woman who has rarely considered “I can’t do this” to be an option, to take that reality in so easily, and so directly.
At another time, it would have felt like life and death to me, and therefore not an option to opt out. At another time, I would have been stuck in the past where “I can’t do it,” would have been the equivalent of not only whatever it was not getting done, but that some threat or danger would have arisen over the lack of completion. At another time, I would have made it mean something about me that I was not able to muscle my way through this level of overwhelm. At another time, my first thoughts would have been not about me, but about potential responses from the carpenter, my husband, or other people in the company.
But on this day, as if by magic, the arising of “I can’t do this,” was so real and so true that nothing else, past or present, mattered. There was no explanation necessary. No apology required. No self-flagellation to go through. Nothing to resist. Nothing to feel badly about. No world coming to an end.
So, how did all of this happen? By not resisting the reality that stood before me. Through the pure, simple pleasure of being with what is, as it is. And because of it, a longstanding, old survival pattern around being the one who always has to do it, no matter what, gently slid off me as easily as rain sliding off the roof, as I crawled back down the ladder and uttered out loud, “I can’t do this.” And right behind that amazing utterance came the joyful recognition of all the people who can do this. And that it doesn’t have to be me.
This story is my plug for a regular practice. It does not matter what you do, so long as you find daily ways to catch up to the truth of what it is you are experiencing. A kind of truth that is beyond habits, beyond the past, and beyond what anyone thinks of you, or how you should be living. And while the moment I described was truly magical, a moment like this only happens through lots and lots of practice.