Time is a weird thing. It expands and contracts, depending on what you’re doing. Waiting for the bus? Oh dear, time expaaaands like crazy (it just seems to be a fact, a bit like the rule that there’s always three buses going the other direction but none your way). Catching up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while? Oops, where did the time go? It’s a bit like temperature – you know, when the weather people give you the actual temperature and the “felt” temperature. So it’s 20 degrees, but it feels like 15 because of the wind (or whatever other stuff they measure).
Of course from a yogic point of view, there’s a reason why you find yourself in a situation that puts your patience/tolerance/strength (you name it) to the test. It’s all karma. Things don’t just happen to you, they happen for a reason. I’ve just been told by a priest in India that karma is actually worked out over 7 (seven!) generations. So whatever these people, your ancestors, did or didn’t do, in a way it affects you. Similarly, whatever you opt to do will affect the 7 generations to come. Quite scary, isn’t it? For sure I looked pretty stupid when he asked me to name my ancestors that far back. I can tell you, there was an awkward blank in the conversation. Luckily, he smoothed it over (anyway, what can be expected from a foreigner, right?) and just went on with the puja, the religious ceremony.
The biggest test of my patience (and this is not the strongest feature of my character anyway) recently presented itself when we were going up into the Himalayas. I knew there was only one road. I knew there’s landslides during the monsoon season. But the human brain works in funny ways – yes, other people had been affected, but our bus won’t get stuck. Call it optimistic (or naive, according to your liking), but the more you repeat it, the more you believe it.
We got stuck after about four hours driving. The long, long queue of trucks and people having their picnic by the roadside were sure signs that thing wouldn’t be moving any time soon. A huge chunk of mountain had come down, and even though they were clearing it away bit by bit, gravel and rocks kept on coming. So to give you a better idea, this wasn’t your ordinary landslide in Europe, where you just bring in the big machinery and it’s all done within a matter of a couple of hours. This is India, a remote corner of the Himalayas, with hundreds of people stuck on the only road to their destination. They did bring in two diggers which however seemed tiny compared to the massive mountain of rock that had come down. Relentlessly they kept on moving away shovel by shovel, but it didn’t seem to make any visible difference.
I have to say the landslide itself wasn’t all that exciting, but people’s reactions to it were. Where Europeans frantically tried to find a workable solution (why not trek down the valley and up on the other side, with the luggage on our backs?), Indian people displayed their amazing capability of being absolutely unperturbed by any sort of inconvenience happening to and around them. Be it in trains, buses, queues or the crazy traffic in the bigger cities – patience is the only solution.
So consequently I decided to work on my patience, and I would have plenty of opportunity to do so. Naturally, nothing happened that very day. We did find a place that might have called itself a hotel in a fit of self-confidence – which was full. The place next door, not even attempting to pretend to be a “proper” hotel agreed on putting three times four beds together so that 15 of us could sleep in 12 beds. Many people had to sleep sitting up in their bus seats that night. We felt incredibly lucky, as did the hand full of places to eat in the tiny village, who made the business of the year.
Full of confidence we got up at 6am the following morning to be the first ones to get through in case it had cleared… Around lunch time we went back to the village to get some food, which pleased the owner of the food stall immensely. At four in the afternoon we were still looking at that pile of stones, seemingly unmoving.
Late afternoon the road was free. Just about when every one had stopped caring.
Things happen to us for a reason. If something outrages us it means there’s something there for us to work on. There’s something we need to look into. Unless we resolve it, it keeps coming back. It’s like a classroom. You have to repeat the lesson until it’s done properly – karma can’t be fooled.
It’s like life is presenting different roles which we adapt according to our circumstances, what stage of our lives we’re at, what we need to develop at the moment. After we’re done we just drop the role, knowing that another one will come up. Every one plays so many roles in his or her life, often at the same time. Student, teacher, partner, mentor, child, mother – or just think of all the roles we have to play at work. Karma will keep on throwing stuff at us, telling us: So, now show me how you deal with that one!
Quite often I catch myself thinking: Oh, I should have done this or that sooner, I should have got into that earlier. Probably that’s not right. It would have never been the same.
Let’s cheer to all the landslides, traffic jams, packed tubes and buses and all the awful bosses and line mangers who propel us so much forward in our self development -THANK YOU!!!!! 🙂