The Orange and the Coffee Mug

7 04 2013

This morning, I was holding my favorite coffee mug.  There was nothing in it; I was holding it with my pinky finger, hands full of other things, and I was concentrating on putting these other things down one at a time, full of the intention of getting to the point that I could safely transport the mug to the safety of the counter.  As I began, however, an orange that was balanced upon the rest of the sundries rolled—just a bit—across the top of my load.  And though I was concerned, and I mean fully invested, only with my mug at the time, I reacted to stop the orange’s roll by shifting my balance, my hands beneath the pile, to keep the orange atop it all.  Consequently, even though the only thing I wanted to not drop was the mug, the mug was the only thing I dropped.  Luckily, I’m good with my feet, and I was able to cradle the falling mug enough that it didn’t break.

But I had dropped it.  The only thing I was focused upon not dropping dropped. 

And this was the perfect anecdote to illustrate something I’ve been feeling a lot lately: though I think that I am making decisions and focusing my energy on doing things of my choosing, something in my nature, something I do not choose, is betraying me. Something inside of me, or within the world, compels me to do something different, making me feel entirely like an observer of life rather than a liver of it.

I hate to get all Matrix on you, but it put me in mind of something the Oracle said, and which has always resonated with me: “You’re not here to make the choice. You’ve already made it. You’re just here to understand why.”

Maybe it’s because I’ve felt so busy lately, or so unable to slow down and really get a sense of what I’m doing with my life to appreciate where I am and where I’m trying to go, but I’ve felt increasingly as though I am not making any decisions. Not really. I feel like I’ve hit that jet stream of the “productive” years of life—the ones everyone wistfully remarks are gone in the blink of an eye (which is actually a blink, unless you only have one eye). I feel like I’m allowed inadequate time to reflect, to think, to plan, to change course if I’d like. I’m not saying I feel like I want to change course. I’m just saying I probably wouldn’t know it if I did.

This is a question of freedom to me. I am learning to teach within the educational system. I decided to do it, knowing there would be frustrations and a constant heap of work. That doesn’t bother me. But—and here is where I cut this short so I can have time to grade everything and make lesson plans for tomorrow—my life is a coffee mug dangling from my pinky finger, and there is an orange demanding my attention. If I had time to think about it, my life and how I live it is that to which I’d choose to pay the most attention. But that orange is immediate, and it is moving, and I’m balancing it, I’m saving it, and that’s where my mind is. In this instant.

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