Most of us, as we wander our days, have little accidents. We hurt or annoy ourselves or others. We act with good intentions but get negative results. Such is life, but why should it be so?
The self-help gurus and spiritual leaders advise us to keep our chins up (or pull our socks up, if we insist on looking down). But that makes it sound like we are swimming against a current, striving to get across or up a river to some fabled land. Why must we regard little accidents as karmic or the chaos of life? Can we really imagine that big events have meaning while little accidents are purely coincidental?
Our little accidents are reminders into wakefulness. And, since wakefulness means awareness of the beauty and majesty of creation, our little accidents are tugs on our hands pulling us back into the peace and love upwelling at the ground of consciousness. In their way, our little accidents can have more meaning than the huge life changes we go through in our journeys – if we do not refuse them.
The Sliced Thumb
Working away on our chicken coop yesterday, I was cutting some metal when a large sliver of metal punctured my thumb. It was gung-ho about it, driving deep. Bleeding profusely, I had to laugh. Where was I when it happened? Cutting a piece of metal, physically, but in the next steps of where I would put the metal on the coop. Living in the future, unconscious, asleep.
That rude splinter woke me back up. It brought me back into the present moment, a tug on my hand so that I would return into mindfulness and the glory of creation. The sky was majestic and the birds were singing a lovely chorus, I heard for the first time. The sighing of the trees rushed in to fill the void where I had been.
Think back to the most recent time you hurt yourself. Did you narrow your entire consciousness into the injury and the self-loathing that arises from ideals? That is forcibly ripping your hand away from the Beloved. Let us be thankful for small accidents, where we only need little tugs to pull us back into the astounding creation, by using them as the reminders into wakefulness they are.
The Barking Dog
Having five dogs, my family and I often strive to stifle their barking. People and other dogs walking by are very loudly warned against getting too close to the fence. Our neighbors get annoyed and sometimes call or text us. It is a blind habit now – first we verify they have not found another snake, then we admonish them. Certainly, we do not mean for the dogs to harass the neighbors as they get into their cars. In that way, it is an accident often-repeated… we hope they will come to accept the neighbors eventually.
But the blind habit is a visible mental obstruction when I meditate. If I were to oblige the force of the mental rut, I would never meditate at all. So I must sit with it, just as I now sit with an aching thumb. The barking dog is the same thing as my irritation at the noise. In fact, there is nothing out there at all – the barking dog is always a call into awareness of the mental habits and obstructions I have built up.
Think back to the last time you got annoyed. Was it really another being or person that you were dealing with? Or was it an ideal, a building in your mental landscape? Just as I let out my dogs and then get annoyed by them, are not the little accidents that pester you as you go about life simply you trying to shove reality into your mental picture?
The Sprinkling Rain
This morning, as I meditated out in the darkness, it began to rain. One of the flashes of thought that streamed through my mind is that I could have at least worn a hat. As my head and clothes got soaked, the little accident of the world – rain upon an “undeserving” dry head – lead to thoughts of getting a cold or the flu. Certainly, I set myself up for such an illness, and that illness would be an accident if it came, right?
The problem with such thoughts is that they are actually just random mental junk arising from my conditioning. Had I never been taught that being cold and wet outside could lead to illness, would I plant the seed of future physical illness in my realm of possibility? If I did not plant the seed, would the probability of such illness be changed? But those questions are also just mental junk arising from conditioning.
The truth is that the rain felt lovely upon my head. It was not a little accident at all, but just another instance of the cities of mind conflicting with the glory of the world. If I were to believe and empower the thoughts, that would be a choice and it would remove me from meditation and mindfulness.
How many of your little accidents were not accidents at all? How many times did blessings arrive at your doorstep, but you refused them because you were expecting different packaging? Why must the beauty and happiness of life fit any preconceived notion at all? The tumbling clouds of the world are free just as you are free – infinitely evolving and mutating, magic and mysterious through the most profound gift of grace of all: formlessness. Our consciousnesses, God, and the world have only one definition: they cannot be defined. Let us stop looking for the perfect tree as we wander the forest of love.
In a sense, all little accidents are reminders into wakefulness. You can believe this abstractly, as though it is just the natural manifestation of consciousness, and it will still serve you. But it is far better if you can sense that there is a living God on the other end of the line, drawing near as you draw near, helping you stay awake so that you do not slip away into the darkness of slumber and misery. The Beloved is playful at times, forceful at others… but even if your physical form is utterly destroyed, He does that only to keep you safe as a Child of God.