Yesterday started like many another: I woke up. Normally I am grateful I’m on the right side of the ground, count up the hours I slept peacefully, pause to recall and explore my dreams, evaluate any disturbances and inquire into my feeling state. Then I ritually discuss mutual inquiry with my husband.
Except on this morning I skipped the gratitude, climbed over my anxiety, and went straight to how many hours of sleep I had accrued. Deciding I had enough, I detached my cat from my face and half-heartedly asked my husband how he had slept. Looking back, I can see I had fed the wrong wolf—and off I went, spiraling towards the vortex.
I raced to beat the clock; we had to be at the airport by 8am, it was 6:20, and I was standing there in my jammies machinating over whether or not the heavy rain would delay our flight. Thundershowers were expected. While I showered I imagined our plane being tossed into oblivion amidst lightning and thunder, spat into the abyss.
The plane was on time. A good augur, I decided. I stowed my bag overhead, happy there was room. And I went back to stressful thinking. Sit down, other people are getting on, and anyway God’s not going to kill you and David at the same time, it’s not possible that you both have the exact same exit strategy. Some relief came over me. Then I thought, Right, my girlfriend died on a plane and my other girlfriend’s husband, so the odds of me dying on a plane are about…well they’re astronomical. Right? What about terrorists? Does that person look like a terrorist?
I stopped myself. Here’s the deal, sweetie, I gently but firmly say to myself, hoping to interrupt what how now become completely paranoid and insane behavior. Have you noticed, Maryanne, that every time you get on an airplane some part of you searches for any warning that the plane will go down, and it’s never happened?
I liked that. My inner parent is great. Anyway, what are you going to do, never get on a plane? Live your life trying to dodge every Tom, Dick and terrorist attack lookalike? No. God is not some guy in the sky. God is the great Divine and you are not this little body, you are a big, magnificent spirit on a purpose-filled mission ~ when it’s your time, it’s your time. That’s all. I eased back into the seat, comforted by the resounding truth of my words.
I remembered in that moment how far I had come from not even being able to set foot on a plane many years ago, or even leave my house, as I suffered from the worst kind of anxiety disorder. Never having taken medication, I struggled and fought to heal myself and today I sat, still and calm, taking a moment to praise myself for the progress I have made.
I am reminded again of the story about a Shaman who used to gather the children of the village each new moon to tell the story of the dark and white wolf. It is said that the dark and white wolf have battled since the beginning; the dark wolf grows strong when he is fed fear, lies, greed, dishonesty, and the like. The white wolf grows stronger with love, compassion, truth and care. The children would squeal with delight as he would recount their battles, and at the end of the story beg “Tell us who won the fight, grandfather?” to which he would reply. “Whichever one you feed, my child!” Free will is indeed the final answer.