You’re third in line in the supermarket queue, and the person directly in front – a woman in her late twenties with slicked-back, oily hair, a screaming child and a look of near-psychosis in her eyes - has a trolley piled high with groceries.
Looking down at your own hand basket, you have only a few items. It would take just a minute for the checkout assistant to serve you. A quick glance to your left and right and you see the other queues are longer, so there’s no point swapping. You consider asking the woman with the heaving trolley if you can just nip in front of her. It seems a reasonable request, especially since you’re in a hurry to be somewhere else.
Just as you open your mouth to speak, she glares at her child with unblinking eyes and whispers, with a clenched jaw: “The body of Christ compels you! The body of Christ compels you! The body of Christ compels you!”
You decide not to ask.
So you stand there… your new enemy and her demon offspring in front of you… and you’re getting increasingly frustrated by the unfairness of it all. I mean, what on earth is she doing, coming to a supermarket and buying so much stuff? And look at the processed crap she’s got in her basket! No wonder the child is hyperactive.
If you’d just got to the till faster… if that old woman with the limp and the curled-down lip hadn’t dawdled in front of you when you were marching down the vegetable aisle, you’d have now been standing IN FRONT of this monstrous woman ahead of you, rather than behind her.
She couldn’t even be bothered to wash her hair.
You purse your lips and exhale. The agitation is rising.
A glance at your watch reveals it’s 2:33pm, and you think, what are all these idiots doing clogging up the supermarket at 2:33pm on a Wednesday? What sort of moron does their shopping at this time of day, on this day of the week?
Then you see that two checkouts at the other side of the store are closed and you shake your head, thinking ‘bastards’ as you curse the supermarket for their inefficiency, their inability to provide anything close to even a basic standard of good service and you also call into question their human rights record.
As your nemesis finishes piling the absurd amount of crappy, non-nutritious foodstuffs onto the checkout console’s conveyor belt, and you notice that she’s readied a fistful of time consuming money-off coupons; and as her child wails in such a high pitch you expect the storefront windows to shatter, your brain begins to swell and your heart creaks in your chest.
Then… horror of horrors… there’s that buzz, and the checkout assistant (who you’ve now decided is both gormless and fat, and the other way around) lifts a pack of tampons above her head and shouts: “Can I have a price check on these?”
You don’t know whether to throw your basket on the floor and storm out or start yelling at everyone in the store about how they must be doing this deliberately.
It’s perhaps a slightly exaggerated example, but I’m sure it will strike a chord with most.
Resistance to what is - that mismatch between what is real, in the living moment, and what your mind wants, through its synaptic reflections or projections – is the greatest cause of stress, anxiety, frustration, sadness, anger, misery and general negativity there is for our species.
If you’re in that supermarket queue, wanting to be and thinking about being somewhere else, and getting annoyed about not being there, where are you?
You’re still in the supermarket queue.
At that moment… and in any given moment… you can’t be anywhere else but where you are, so why resist it?
Amongst that swell of life, surrounded by thousands of years of stories and experience, you reduce your perception of it all to near-nothing by retreating into a critical, grumpy state of mind.
Yet, by recognising and letting go of that negativity, you could immediately immerse yourself in the same state of peace you’d find and feel in yourself if you were sitting on a mountain, or on the shore of a lake…
Life is what is. Life is right now. Life is always and will only ever be in the living moment.
If your mind tells you you should be somewhere else, when you’re not, and that’s causing you stress, then recognise that your mind is at fault and reject its flawed thinking.
This extends to every situation and circumstance in your life…
If you’re overweight, you’re overweight and no matter how much your mind castigates you about being so, you will still be overweight in that moment.
If you’re in debt, then you’re in debt and unless you can pay that debt in that exact moment of realisation, you’re still going to be in debt.
If you’re locked up in prison, that is where you are, and no matter how much your mind protests and aches for you to be free, those are your circumstances of the moment.
And so on…
Acceptance of the moment allows you to shed the anxiety and negativity which your mind may wish to attach to and label that moment with. It allows you to move from a mentally constructed fabrication of virtual reality into actual reality… from thought into form.
Life is an ongoing process of change, so accepting the moment doesn’t mean that things won’t change… it just means you won’t be beating yourself up, psychologically, while you’re moving through that change.
And you can make plans, in the moment, to drive that change. In that space where negativity once lay, creativity and positivity pour in.
If you’re overweight and you’re uncomfortable with it, make plans to get fit.
If you’re in debt, make plans to repay it. If you can’t possibly repay it, make plans to tell the companies you owe to that you can’t possibly repay it. If you can’t possibly repay it to ‘Evil Steven’ the loan shark, make plans to move to a different area of the country and change your name.
If you’re in prison, make it the place you want to be, right now – not with such enthusiasm that you punch the prison governor in the eye to get a few extra years, but by recognising that, whatever the circumstances, that is your life and every moment of your time on this Earth is precious to you. Use the time as wisely as you can, in whichever way you can.
If those plans don’t work out right away, keep adjusting them. If you stumble or falter, get back up and start again. Never give up.
In time, you’ll be in the moment where you’re slim, out of debt or at your liberty again, and what certainly wouldn’t have got you there was all that needless worry or frustration.
Life is now and this human incarnation has a limited and unpredictable timespan, which is true for every single person on the planet… so why waste a moment of it?
Next time you’re in the supermarket, let go and live.
“A wizard is never late, nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.” – Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring