Over the past weekend I faced the trying experience of having one aspect of my way of life challenged by forces of authority that, for better or worse, could stand to bring me to make unwelcome changes to this particular facet of my lifestyle, and perhaps impact the rest, perhaps even to a point beyond which I had ever bargained. In the process I am trying to learn a few things, perhaps most importantly how to maintain a sense of serenity in the face of opposition.
The lifestyle matter at hand (it has to do with how my husband and I recycle our garbage) begs a socio-philosophical question that perhaps can be answered from a multitude of directions, and be given a plethora of answers. At the end of the day, and at the beginning of it , I still firmly believe I have every right to carry on as I do, and that the people and institutions presenting the oppositional viewpoints simply lack aggressive understanding and bold experience in the realms within which we advent.
But that, I must learn, is not the point. What other people and institutions believe, think, feel and do are beyond my control. I could make myself crazy trying to change them. Even when I feel strongly that I am in the right, I have to keep control of ‘my side of the street’. I can control my actions, my reactions, my words, my state of mind, and my outlook and approach to all of the rest of my life, and the gift of the world that lies in wait for me to cherish and explore, and do with whatever I want and can achieve in my time. How is this opposition making me feel? Do I feel resentment or fear, and how might I justify these feelings? Why do I feel this way, and how much of it is of my own doing, and how much of it can I still affect one way or another? The lesson I am trying to learn is serenity amidst opposition; the harder I try to fight to control another’s beliefs, thoughts and actions, the more frustrated I am likely to become, and the further away from serenity I will be.
In the past, I’ve burnt many a bridge and caused much destruction in my campaigns trying to change people. Thankfully, today, and not without help, I am learning to seek a graceful serenity to accept the things I cannot change, a self-assessing courage to change those things that I can, and, sometimes, through that hard-earned training of trial and error we call experience, I am finding the wisdom to know the difference. What will happen to our family’s recycling processes at the end of all of this? I don’t know, I’ve done about all I can to present my case and promote our viewpoints. But what I do know is that I don’t have to let the outcome, or the deliberations and waiting in the interim for the decisions and actions of others, shatter my happiness and peace of mind.