I intended to insert this story to the previous post titled ‘Stop‘. Somehow I forgot. Perhaps the story merits a post of its own. So here goes.
Several friends and I were conversing about what was going on within each of us. About the situations and challenges of life and how we felt about them. Various feelings arose as we shared our stories. It was getting intense. One strong word surged after another. Stories got more complex and longer, colored with destructive emotions.
“Enough!” said one friend, with an unusually stern voice. We immediately went silent. Stunned by the strong word that came out of a kind, gentle soul. It felt like we were stopped in the middle of the air and left hanging there.
“What are we doing? Don’t we realise where we are, and how we are to one another? Don’t we know Who it is we are conversing with, and What we are conversing about?” she continued.
There was complete silence, at least on the outside. We realised that we had just allowed ourselves to be dragged into the vortex of our stories – which felt heavy, constrictive, somewhat dark, and unending. What were we doing?
The invitation to return had been extended. Through that one word uttered from an unexpected source. The atmosphere shifted. The haze lifted. There was more clarity. The conversation continued, now with more subdued emotions and a better anchored, unified viewpoint.
Similar story came about some time back. I had a recorded session with a counselor cum friend. We talked at great length about my stories. I listened to the recording several days after, and said to another friend when we met, “What a load of bullshits I was talking about.” My friend chuckled. She understood. I meant it in the most compassionate way — *self hug*. With all due respect to self and life experience.
What I meant is, we occasionally get caught up with our own stories, deviating from what is going on. We put in words that do not necessarily describe how we actually feel. We colour them with more emotions and links to the hows and whys. The stories get more comprehensive. Their essence is forgotten and buried somewhere in the middle of the subjective, emotional memory haystack.
That one word, ‘enough’, was a compassionate nudge. A kind invitation to return to what matters. A friend occasionally extend the invitation in another way. That is, through a question, “Is that really how you feel?” Every time that question came up, I went silent, realising the answer was, “no.”
Such questions turn me inward and return me to a listening mode to what is. More often then not, the stories get simpler, lighter and kinder. Their continuation too become clearer, equipped with certainties. And anything that is simple, light and kind – I am so in.
These anecdotes may seem bare amidst the sophistication of life. The questions, however, are relevant to how we are today, as individuals, as families, as communities, as nations, and perhaps as fellow beings. What are we doing?
Hold on tight to the rope of God and do not you let yourselves fall apart in collectivity [QS 3:103].
ps: This reminds me of another story – of what is under these layers of protection we arm ourselves with, under these layers of emotions and stories. Perhaps another day.