A friend was recently having a hard day. He had just found out that his dad needed surgery and that he would be responsible for months of aftercare. In communicating his frustration via text, he made a comment that sparked an emotional reaction in me. I reacted with such immediacy that it surprised me. It was clear to me that I was not responding to the circumstances in his life but reacting to something in mine. I saw myself in that moment. Where was I? Was I even engaged with what he was communicating? I wasn’t.
When I looked at what was bothering me, I saw I was upset from an earlier conversation with my mother. I had a wish to be available for my friend, and yet I was caught in my thoughts of past and future. I took a breath and wrote something that I thought expressed sympathy, but I saw that I was still in an emotionally reactive place. Then I put the phone down and just sat there for a moment. I remembered my aim was to be present, and to live my life consciously. Continue reading