I read a quote the other day (do I do anything else these days? No) from Austrian Holocaust survivor, Viktor E. Frankl:
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.“
This got me thinking. In that space, there is so much potential for us to choose accordingly: to react unconsciously or to respond thoughtfully. Whether it’s a split second moment, a few days, months, years, even. That is the space where you have all the power in the world to either do good or bad, whether you choose for your current self who’s desperate for convenience and pleasure, or your future self, who cares about the after-effects of what will come with this decision. Between the ego and the ‘best’ version of yourself.
It’s the space when you learn to walk away. When to leave the party. When to be the good guy. Or start a war, if you should feel so inclined.
In that space, we may feel panic, we may feel the threat of the unknown. But we know more than we think we know. It’s in our physical, most innate self. Our bodies often tell us things before we’re conscious to the facts; they are wired to be receptors to threat.
Said threat doesn’t always have to be perceived as a threat. It may be more of a signal that something is off-kilter, out of balance. At the very basic level, for example, we know intrinsically when we do something wrong, whether it’s good or bad. Yet most of the time we do the bad thing anyway, sometimes just for the sake of the tired, clichéd rush. We rush right through that split-second space of potential and careen right into the middle of a self-made mess before we even know it ourselves.
But what if we sacrificed that rush, that in-the-moment-indulgence-or-transgression-that-ultimately-leads-to-regret for the ‘right’ thing? The harder thing? The thing we don’t want to do but we know we should?
You might not get that pang of excitement, but you get that long, sustainable, extended joy of knowing you did the right thing, right? And this can only happen if you use that split second of space to your advantage. Choosing long term joy over short term joy. Using that space as an opportunity for total awareness, of total conscious choice, of choosing whether to move forward or stay stuck going round in circles.
The thing with choosing ‘right’ is that it doesn’t always feel ‘right’. And that’s alright. Can you imagine how boring life would be if we just coasted along and there were never any moral dilemmas? There would be no growth, no development, just total stagnancy. Being a human with emotions and a conscious awareness, we have the responsibility to be of moral service and to have compassion for other fellow humans and sometimes that comes in the form of doing the right thing when it benefits others instead of yourself more. All of this may seem like pretty basic, even biblical, information to most people, but it is still valid. And we need to remember it these days more than ever, cause we’re in the middle of a frickin’ pandemic, my dudes.
We need to not only be conscious of our own bubbles – pun intended? – but be aware of not trying to pop others’ as well. Even without this pandemic, everyone has experienced some kind of loss, grief or pain and we should treat people accordingly. With sensitivity, with patience, with compassion. It might be easier to stare at the drunk man on the tube and get pissed off, but perhaps that’s his way of grieving. It might be easier to boil over with silent rage at the person who just shoved past you in the shopping queue, but they might be boiling over with their own levels of stress. And it might be easier to wave your fist at someone who just cut you off at a junction, but perhaps they’re rushing to the hospital because they’re significant other’s just gone in labour.
So be kind to yourself and to others. Use this big mess of a year as an opportunity to be aware of other people’s pain. Give the benefit of the doubt as if it were an unlimited currency. Be gentle with everyone walking this earth; this is all our shared home and we are all each other’s family and we all need each other now more than ever.
So to sum up another episode of my jumbled up verbal waffle, JUST BE A NICE PERSON. The end.