By: Edward James
This is my journal entry from Monday, August 5, 2019.
I was sitting on the deck this morning in my chair facing East. This my morning routine with which you are by now familiar. But today was different. I had been sitting at the kitchen table reading yesterday’s New York Times while my mom was making breakfast for Niece and Nephew. Brother had gone to work and his kids stayed home rather than going to the Boy’s and Girl’s Club. A bagel for Nephew and a bowl of cereal for Niece. But, Niece’s cereal “tasted funny” and she wanted a new bowl. That was the last of the cereal so another bowl wasn’t an option. Niece now wanted a bagel instead, but Nephew’s bagel was the last one, so a bagel wasn’t an option either, and my mom is suddenly carrying the weight of that stress.
I’m sitting at the kitchen table on the other side of the room from my mom telling myself to breathe. As an empath, I feel everything my mom feels. I’m trying to use my breath as a defense mechanism against the quickly ensuing feelings of frustration, anger, blame, and all the other stressful emotions I’ve become so familiar with. It’s not working. Monkey mind times ten like Monkey had too much coffee this morning. It continues
Now I’m starting to make things up in my mind. Things that haven’t happened yet, and probably won’t, but I’m stressing about them anyway. My mind is even stressing backwards. “Is this the kind of thing that cause such and such bad thing to happen however many years ago?” My poor deep breathing efforts don’t stand a chance.
So, I fold the newspaper, get up from the table and walk across the kitchen to refill my coffee. Cause that’s exactly what I need, right? More caffeine to help me calm down. I decide to pour just half a cup for the flavor and top it off with hot water. A small victory and a brief distraction from the surrounding chaos.
I take my hot cup of coffee-water, my newspaper, my phone and my headphones out to my chair on the deck. I brought my phone and headphones because I wanted to listen to a guided meditation on YouTube to try and calm down.
The meditation started. I heard the soft music start. The soft sound of distant wind. And then the woman’s soft voice. I followed her directions and relaxed quickly into the chair. I connected with my breath as I looked around slowly before closing my eyes. I noticed the small birds flitting around the deck from one feeder to another, to a tree branch, to a Cecil Bruener branch, to the railing, to the pergola, chasing one another, happy as can be in the cool and fresh morning air. Then I noticed the green of the plants and the bright colorful flowers. I saw the sun, directly in front of me rising in the East; shining brightly from behind the redwoods, oaks, and furs. The perfect amount of warm light filtering through to where I sat.
I closed my eyes about halfway. The sunlight, the trees, the birds, and the flowers blurred to look like a beautifully perfect watercolor painting. The soft music and the soft voice continued in my ears. The sound of my breath indistinguishable from the sound of the winds playing on my headphones.
Suddenly, that was it. It came to me. An idea bubbling in my mind like water boiling in a pot on the stove. I couldn’t sit there any longer. I had to get up, go to my desk in my room, and write. I had to let the idea bubble out onto paper before it cooled down and left me. So I walked to my room with music and voice still pouring slowly into my ears like rich maple syrup straight from a majestic maple tree. I took my journal from its shelf, sat down at my desk, and sharpened my pencil. I wrote it down:
“I am the eye.”
It had occurred to me, while sitting in that state of bliss in my chair on the deck, chaos continuing around me, that I had become the eye of the storm. I pictured the scene from Twister, one of my all-time favorite movies, when they are in the eye of the tornado. Houses, semi-trucks, and cows being flung through the air by the storm around them, but for them, in that moment, it is calm.
That’s where I want to live my life. That’s HOW I want to live my life. As if I am always in the eye of the storm. As if I AM THE EYE of the storm. No matter what’s going on around me, I can choose to be the eye of that storm.
I don’t need to make the storm go away. The storm is life. The storm was created by God. By the universe. Extinguishing and calming the rage around me is not within my power. I can’t control the world around me. I can’t control the universe. But I can control me, And I can BE THE EYE!
I can separate myself from the chaos whirling and swirling around me and simply observe it as what it is. I don’t need to judge it. I don’t need to solve it. And I most definitely don’t need to jump into it or let it overwhelm me. It’s up to me to keep myself here in the eye. Especially when the storm is at its strongest, most dangerous, and most destructive.