July 7, 2020

An Alternative to the Panic we feel when Something is Taken Away.

Some people just can’t take a hint.

Most people don’t know a gift when they see it. And pretty much nobody likes having nothing.

Watch what happens when you take away someone’s hobby, or their favorite TV show, or their job. Sure, they’ll tell you that it’s a matter of practicality that they have to keep working, or watching, or collecting, or whatever.

But we all know deep down that the tantrum isn’t about the thing but about the panic that ensues whenever a thing is taken from us. We’re terrified of nothing. That is, we can’t stand not having something.

So, instead of seeing the closing of our businesses or the directive for social isolation as a gift, we immediately rebel. “Nobody is going to tell me to stop doing what I need to do!”

It’s a child’s tantrum, plain and simple. And what that tantrum does is keep us from getting the value from this rare opportunity.

To experience “nothing” is to face yourself head on. It’s a chance to observe and make peace with your inner demons, to embrace your fundamental anxiety and give it time to wash away in the light of your loving awareness.

Give me someone who can sit quietly in a room alone and still be happy, and I’ll give you someone you can trust with your life. That individual no longer needs anything from me or anyone else. They are comfortable in their own skin, and they have no need to take from me or speak anything but the truth.

That kind of wisdom and integrity comes at a price. The price is the capacity to face nothingness and find comfort in it. That person who pays the price gains the ultimate profit: access to his or her greatest courage, resourcefulness, creativity, humor, and love. That’s a person who can succeed without effort.

So, if you’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have nothing to do, try accepting that and discovering what gifts it holds. Maybe after you finish remodeling your bathroom and scrubbing your toilet and repainting your deck and all the other projects you’ve invented to fill your time and feel productive, you’ll have the courage to just sit down, shut up, and feel your way through the anxiety until you claim your prize.

And then, you’ll really be ready when the time to do something returns.

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