Chapter 8: Being In The Now
An excerpt from You Have Chosen to Remember: A Journey of Self-Awareness, Peace of Mind and Joy by James Blanchard Cisneros.
“Have you ever noticed… anyone going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”
– George Carlin
The ego has taught us that if someone cuts us off in traffic, we should react with emotions such as annoyance, irritation, anger or even rage. The world considers these emotions to be natural and deserved responses. The world tells us that we have every right to be angry. It feels natural and right to react with anger because that is how we have been trained and what we are now used to. In fact, we often consider what is natural and what we’re used to as basically the same thing. Yet, what we are used to and what is natural are usually two completely different things. Any time we react with anger, such a reaction occurs not because it is natural, but because it has become a bad habit. We have learned negative tendencies, have not corrected them and they have become bad habits that we now call our natural behaviors. We have repeated these bad habits over a period of time and they have now become “second nature” or natural tendencies. But many of the reactions we consider natural tendencies have, in truth, nothing to do with our true nature. When we were children, our parents, other family members and friends reacted this way. As a child this type of reaction was often common, first with our parents and family members, then with our peers. As adults, they probably still react this way, and now we have probably joined them in their thinking. At first, such reactions probably did not sit well with us, but as we heard our families react over and over in such a manner, sooner or later we got used to the behavior, and let it be until their behavior became ours.
I remember as a very young child, driving with my mother in Caracas, Venezuela. Sooner or later, someone would cut her off, or something would happen on the road that she simply did not agree with. Her response was typically a negative comment regarding the other driver’s skills. I remember hearing my mother say things she would never say outside the car. Needless to say, the first time I really remember arguing with my mother was in the car. She complained about someone’s driving and I immediately came to that person’s defense and explained to my mother what she could have done to avoid the situation. Let’s just say that taking criticism about her driving skills from a seven year old child did not win me any brownie points! On the other hand, she was happy because she thought that it was only a matter of time before I would become a successful defense attorney. So on and on it went. My mother complained, I defended the other drivers, she came back at me telling me why I was wrong, and I offered driving advice on how she might avoid such situations in the future. She would say that I should be defending her and not the other driver whom I did not even know. Anyway, on and on it went, drive after drive, until one day I got so tired of the whole game that I figured it would be best for me to just fall asleep, or just keep my opinions to myself.
The reactions of my mother, which most people consider natural and correct responses, offer people a certain level of comfort. For if it did not offer a certain level of comfort, why would people continue to react this way? Attacking a brother or sister only offers a certain level of comfort because we believe that when we do so, we are released from the negative emotions we ourselves offer. Yet, if we were to look within, we would see that whatever we offer a brother or sister remains with us. If, in a car, we offer anger, that anger, as much as we want to believe that it affects the other driver, affects us more. We think that we experience release and comfort by attacking a brother or sister, but this is only a false release, a false comfort.
I invite you to look within. Does this so-called release truly bring comfort? True comfort manifests itself as the state of peace. Does attacking a brother or sister, regardless of how much we think we are right, offer us true peace? Shouldn’t comfort and peace of mind go hand in hand? Do these “comfortable” feelings come from actual comfort, or from habits and illusions of comfort?
The ego would have us believe that if we “give it” to another driver, this action will make us feel better. The ego teaches us that what we give we lose. Thus, if we give a negative emotional response to another driver, this negative emotion will leave us and somehow stay with the other driver, thus releasing us from the response. This, the ego says, will make us feel better and will make the other driver feel worse. Not only that, but the ego also wants us to believe that this negative emotion will somehow stay with the other driver for a long time to come, thus making us believe that we got the upper hand.
The Godself reminds us that what we give – we keep, that what we offer a brother or sister – we gift ourselves. There is no way we can offer a negative emotion without feeling it ourselves. What we offer a brother or sister must first flow through us. There is no such thing as letting another driver “have it” without feeling it in one way or another.
Now try to remember all those times you reacted with anger out of habit. You will probably not have to think too far back. Has this habit ever brought you true peace of mind? And if not, has it ever brought you comfort? So isn’t this habit of anger, with which we are now comfortable, really just an illusion of comfort? Haven’t we suffered in our cars long enough? Would you like to change your way of reacting? Would you like to know what true comfort feels like? There is a way, my friend, to find peace and comfort on the road.
I used to react with a lack of peace on the road. I admit that even today, I slip every now and then and mentally let a driver have it. But the difference is that I now catch myself being out of peace with myself much quicker, and as I catch myself I correct the situation in my mind and find true comfort and peace.
Living in Caracas, Venezuela presents many opportunities to choose peace on the road. If you haven’t been there, imagine Los Angeles with half to a quarter of the available traffic lanes, no real street police enforcing laws and stop lights which, on a good day, are perceived by fellow drivers as yield signs. If it rains, people are better off walking to work, regardless of the distance. This is a city where, if a survey were conducted asking people to find the turn signal in their cars, at least 90 percent would fail!
We have discussed that anger might seem to be a logical, comfortable response – one that we are used to, a habit. We have also discussed that this so-called comfortable response has truly never brought us comfort, and if it hasn’t brought us comfort, it definitely hasn’t brought us peace. In fact, we have tried it the ego’s way over and over again, and what has it ever really brought us? Are you open to trying a new way? Good, because this has worked for me, and if it has worked for me then it can work for you.
This text can be found in the book - You Have Chosen to Remember: A Journey of Self-Awareness, Peace of Mind and Joy.
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