A guest post by Christopher Foster of The Happy Seeker
Life can be unpredictable at times (English understatement). What do we do when trouble or disaster looms suddenly?
Here’s a lesson I learned many years ago:
I was 22 or 23, burning brush on a ranch in British Columbia. I must have been daydreaming because I looked up and saw with horror that the fire I had set was getting away on me.
It was putting on speed and galloping toward the nearby forest in an ever-widening circle.
Yikes. Nothing like a fire to focus the mind.
I jumped up, grabbed my shovel, and beat desperately at the nearest flames. I continued doing this for a few moments, putting some of the flames out, or so I thought. But when I looked back, I saw that the pesky little monsters I thought I had erased were simply re-creating themselves and springing back to life.
I felt a moment of panic. But then this interesting thing happened. It was like a quiet voice inside me gave me an instruction. “Be still,” it said. “Slow down and think, or this is going to turn into a nightmare.” I listened to that little voice. So much patience it took.
I began to move slowly and methodically around the circle of flames, making very sure that each section of the fire was out before I moved on. I don’t know how long it took. But perhaps half an hour later I stood up and looked around and saw a wonderful sight. The nearby haystacks were safe. The nearby forest was safe. I had two large, cold drinks and thanked my lucky stars.
Listen to our own inner wisdom
As our lives become increasingly busy and the world wobbles in alarming ways there is one thing, I have learned, upon which I can always depend. Listening to the little nudges of my own heart. I don’t catch them all but I sure do my best. Three steps that are essential in my experience are these.
Three essential steps.
1. Stop. Slow down. Sometimes, faced with an emergency, we simply act spontaneously as the situation demands. But most of the time, with a difficult decision to make, or a priority to choose, we have time to be still for a moment and step back from the situation. For me, that is always the first step.
2. Listen Life is very clever. Sometimes it only needs that moment of silence for the answer to a problem to appear. Sometimes it happens when we give up. But as you make a habit of listening to that still small voice within yourself will find something quite magical happens. You realize that stillness is not empty. All the wisdom of the universe is there. We have not been forgotten.
3. Trust The last step is trust. I honestly don’t know what would have happened in my little story if I had not trusted my inner voice. In my experience there is a hand of grace upon every one of us.
It is not wisdom that comes from far away, it is our own grace and it loves us. It will never leave us. But we have to do our bit and listen.
Christopher Foster is an author, blogger, and teacher. He writes about aging and the unconquerable spirit in us all from the perspective of a 79-year-old. For more from Christopher please visit The Happy Seeker.