For the past few days, Alanis Moresette singing “What if god was one of us?” has been running through my head. This tune entered my mind on Monday while waiting for the bus to go teach.Having arrived a bit early, I sat around somewhat awkwardly waiting in the cool winter air. As usual, the projected departure time came and went and there was no bus. Another five minutes passed, still no bus. Then ten minutes went by, and you guessed it, no bus. I began to wonder if I should have taken another route and decided to walk to a corner where I could hedge my bets and take another bus if need be.
While standing on the corner of a major intersection, I recall walking back and forth looking down these perpendicular routes. Each time, carefully estimating how close I could get to the curb to see while avoiding any potential splash from the oncoming traffic. All seemed good. The Sun was shinning. I was warm, looking good, and internally patting myself on the back for finding a solution. And then… “Splash!” An oncoming semi, which I had seen and assumed had seen me standing on the corner, showered me in a brown mixture of icy water like one of the unpopular kids slushied in Glee.
Now caked in a coffee colored, chunky, cold substance, I recall having two distinct thoughts enter my mind.
The first was, “OH great! This is going to be a fabulous day!” said in the most sarcastic tone imaginable as I analyzed my now skid-marked appearance. The second thought, which jumped in before the first could begin to imagine all the ways this day could potentially get worse, said, “Only if you let it. You can choose to not let this bother you.”
“Only if you let it. You can choose to not let this bother you.”
So often, we can give up our power of choice, and in particular our power to choose the types of thoughts that we give credit to and listen to. Each of us has the power to choose how the various events of the day affect us. But how often do we exercise that choice? How often do we really, stop to pause to say, I can choose to do something else? I can choose to interpret these events in another way? I can choose to not let this situation have more weight, more credit, than it is warranted.
The effect of that choice is phenomenal.
Once I chose not to let the fact that the bus was late and that I had been slushied affect me, the world didn’t become as terrible as I might otherwise have let it become. For, less than three seconds after making this choice, a beautiful creature named Will presented himself and offered me a ride part of the way I needed to go.
I then got on another bus where I met a series of people who quite jovially talked about the “extreme heat wave” we were having and asked if the water I was drinking was Vodka to help me say warm.
And before finally getting to my destination, I came across some people whose bodies had been marked by the tragedies of war. People I normally would have avoided because of the discomfort I felt by the absence of limbs, which spoke profoundly of the presence of unnecessary violence inflicted upon the self and others both here and abroad.
Through each of these random encounters, I was able to see that we all not only have choices in how we respond to things, but also in how we see things.
Presently, I believe that we may often be presented with things, people, situations, and events because this divine consciousness, God if you will, has this sick and twisted sense of humor. And in an attempt to experience itself fully, through all of its creations, it presents each of us with different situations to see how we will respond, and maybe to test whether we are able to see the power of choice that we have.
Taken this way: the semi driver may have been that consciousness seeing if I would choose to exercise my will power to not let one event color my entire experience of the day. Will may have been my guardian angle of the day, as the divine consciousness asked me if I was willing to accept it support. The men joking about the cold and vodka could have been the reminder that we’re all in this together; while the Vietnam Vets were physical reminders of everything that I have to be grateful for within my life.
As we step off our mats and into the world, I would like to invite you to view the day’s events as invitations from the divine to choose our experiences of the world, while also creating the space to offer more compassion and acceptance of both ourselves as well as others. If even for one day, can you allow yourself to see “God as one of us? Just a slob like all of us; just a stranger on a bus, trying to make his way home?”