did you know you’ve already been chosen?

In response to yesterday’s post about hiding under a bushel and hoping to be chosen, my dear pal posted on the 108 Zen Books Facebook page, “perhaps you just haven’t realized that you have been chosen….”  I posted back a smart-ass comment but she’s right.  About the same time, I was reading a practice tip post by Ken McLeod about our reactions to adversity.  Some respond with gratitude and some with bitterness.  Why?, asked a reader.  McLeod’s response is here.  In essence he says it’s normal to react with “Why me?” which leads to all forms anxiety in the absence of a good enough answer.  In the end it comes down to accepting that you may never know why something happens to you.  Then he writes that through acceptance we find a way to be with the event with equanimity:

In the case of cruelty, you recognize that, however cruel and vicious your assailant, you understand, even though it makes no rational sense. Yet you have no sense of moral superiority or righteousness. 

The last sentence was a heart-opener.  I had shared with a colleague the frustration of seeing someone “get ahead” despite what I saw as all his shortcomings.  And digging into the raw truth I said, Why not me?  Somewhere along the back-and-forth of our conversation he used the word “jealous.”  While it didn’t feel right, it made me sit up and listen to my tone, examine my intention, and dig deeper.  Was I really jealous?  Was it about belonging in a place and space to which I was not entitled?  Was it greed?  Unearned assets?  I’m going to need a convoy of backhoes and bulldozers to get into this one!

When I tie in McLeod’s statement of being released from a sense of moral superiority and righteousness, I can get a glimmer of what might be happening.  True, I react strongly to injustice.  But is righteousness the appropriate response to injustice?  Is there even such a thing as a personal injustice or is that just a euphemism for self-centered?  Oh dear.  Pants down again!

Practice tells me that the path out of this is one of gratitude.  Accepting that there are many places I will never enter.  So being grateful for all the millions of hectares of space I can enter is important to see and practice seeing clearly.  I’ve already been chosen.  There is nothing more to add.  Nothing more to demand.  But it doesn’t stop there.  These friends, colleagues, and teaching moments are just ingredients for the meal.  They are wasted left in the fridge and no more nourishing than the poison of all hindrances.

Time to get cooking!

get thee behind me, sardine

Thank you for all the concern you’ve expressed about Sprout, on- and off-line.  After much deliberation (read: 10 minutes angst + 2 minutes discernment), we decided to try a live trap.  I’m not in favour of traps – heart-filled or otherwise.  However, as the weather deteriorated and my mental state kept pace to the tune of the wild winds, it seemed the only thing left to do.

The first night we put the trap out filled with kitty kibble and a can of salmon mash.  If Sprout showed up at all, we likely missed it in the out-of-sync  periodic window checking.  By bedtime, we had deliberated every contingency of leaving the trap out overnight versus taking it in.  The advantage of leaving it out was that we might capture him – or something with four legs anyway.  The disadvantage was that if it did trap him and we didn’t know it, he was left in the cold with no shelter.  Bringing the trap in meant another day of cultivating distress tolerance.  Besides we had no idea it was going to work anyway and my mind pulled in at the what-if gas station and filled its tank to overflowing.

Doubt is formidable foe.  It erodes all the accumulated wisdom or at the very least punches illusionary holes in the safety net of knowledge.  In the face of the hindrance of  doubt (which is not the same as Great Doubt), I tend to build endless loops of  “but-what-if-and-then” scenarios or put on  my Chicken Little costume (is it really a costume?) and scurry around the house traumatizing the cats.  Frank googles “how to catch a feral kitten.”


Yes.  Pungent, oily, slimy small fry fish.  We laced the kitty kibble with the stuff, slathered it on the cage wire, set the door (I wanted to put a blanket in it just in case he needed the comfort) and laid it out on the deck.  No Sprout.  Apparently the delightfully sunny day and the vast acreage of mice-filled fields were more appealling than store-bought sardines.  However, by nightfall he slithered up to the deck like an adolescent past curfew hoping Mum and Dad were asleep and he could catch a snack without waking them.

We sat at the kitchen table ready to pounce outdoors at the sound of the trap being sprung.  I still had deep doubts about its safety which fed a firestorm of fears that he would be hurt in the process.  After all, our good intentions had not done well for his mother and my brain now had this one-way neural path that anything I might do intending good would end up bad.  Ah, Doubt.  You insidious, entrapping, pungent creature.  Get thee behind me!

I used to think that doubt was counteracted by confidence.  Now I sense that doubt is rousted by the willingness to take that risk we would anyway if not crippled by our need to always have a good outcome.  Furless, clawless, top-heavy creatures that we are, the common assumption is that we use our brains to compensate for our inability to risk in the same way a sabre-tooth tiger or polar bear would to survive.  Perhaps not.  Lumber we might but there was certainly a willingness to take the risk by going out to  hunt or to turn and face the rampaging beast in order to protect our offspring.

We are not risk averse because we are defenseless.  We are defenseless because, in taking a risk, we fear what an unfavourable outcome might say about our competence.  Meet Sprout.  Five pounds and quite disdainful of the sardines.  While in the trap, on the way to the vet, he delicately ate all the kibble around the fish.