Today I want to share a story. It could involve anyone and the story could take place anywhere at any time. Whether this situation has happened to you or not, I’m sure you will recognize yourselves in it to some degree. My hope is that you will read it and get a sense of how often this type of scenario gets played out and how sad and unnecessary this kind of situation really is.
Your partner had to be out of the house for the evening. You anticipate her return and your mind is filled with how you will spend your time together and what it will be like. As the evening goes on, you look more and more forward to seeing her at the time you expect she will return. That time comes and goes and you find yourself even more eager to see her. More time passes and now you begin to experience all kinds of thoughts…projections of what may have happened, or maybe memories of other times she was late. Your emotional state is now becoming unstable.
By the time she arrives home, 15 minutes have passed since the time you expected her. Now, when she opens the door, all smiles and happy to see you, she is not met with a smile and hug in return, but a cold shoulder and a questioning attitude.
What caused the shift between loving partner excited to welcome her home, to upset partner who detaches from the woman he loves?
That’s right…15 insignificant minutes. Does it even matter what happened in those 15 minutes? You may think so. For most, if she got stuck in traffic due to an accident it would be more acceptable than if she remained to talk with friends or colleagues for an extra 15 minutes. In truth, it doesn’t matter what happened, the fact is that it happened and now you have taken it as some sort of personal assault.
So, instead of enjoying the rest of the evening together, you now spend it apart. You, feeling angry at her, and her, feeling confused about what happened.
What a shame it is to be bound by your expectations. It leaves no room for change…no room for life. You make plans in your own mind involving others. When those others don’t function in perfect alignment with your internal plans, who pays the price? Everyone does. You suffer because your expectations which come from your desires aren’t met and, as a result, you experience pain; your pain causes you to pull away from those you love because you see them as the reason for your pain. If she had just come home 15 minutes earlier, everything would be just fine, right? So, in your world, there is no room for another person to experience their own life without it being a constant source of anxiety, frustration and judgment on your part. Your emotional state is at the mercy of all the things you can’t control.
Imagine for a moment that it didn’t matter. That you could desire a certain outcome, but not be disappointed when it didn’t play out the way you planned. Who is it who wants to control everyone around them, anyway? Only the personal self…the one who can’t stand to not have things go just the way he thinks they should…the one who takes it personally whenever anything isn’t just perfect in his world…the one who experiences pleasure here and there but can never achieve true happiness. It’s the sense of you…your personal identity.
Now, let’s go back to the man and woman in the story. If he had been capable of remaining in his heart, a very important thing would have happened. He would have experienced the only thing that really mattered when she got home…his love for her. He would have felt his love and he would have expressed his love. He also would have been able to receive the love she was giving him when she arrived.
15 minutes…an insignificant amount of time and an equally insignificant detail that served to drive a wedge between two people who love each other.
Learn to accept that it’s always going to be something. People who love you will not always meet your inner expectations of them. Even if they want to, they can’t always, because life happens. You need to shift your focus from being the victim to viewing them from a place of innocence. A child would say that if someone loves me, why would he want to hurt me? Exactly….if she loves you, she is not intentionally late just to anger you, which is the basis of the story you ended up concocting and then believing about her. That isn’t love, plain and simple. So, stop withholding your love from her when she functions from innocence and it doesn’t go your way. Just let it all go and focus on the only thing that ever mattered anyway…
15 minutes can only be experienced as 15 minutes when the self is identified. In the present moment, there is only that…the present moment. No one can ever be late in the present moment.