If you’re like me, you’ve no doubt found your mind wandering from issue to issue, distracting you from the task at hand, or from enjoying a bit of peace and quiet. The following zen story describes the situation perfectly, and with some work on your part, a solution.
I had a bad wintery morning a few weeks ago with my daughter. Snow drifts and ice on the sidestreets were just waiting to trap my rear-wheel drive little convertible. Nature’s way of reminding me that my automotive decision-making didn’t take winter into account. Because of this my daughter had to walk to school in the cold and snow. She was mad. Spitting mad as she left.
I then found myself re-living her disappointment throughout the day at work. Why didn’t I buy a more useable winter car? (Ask me again in April!) Why was she so angry? Do we spoil her too much? How will she manage on her own one day?
This reminded me of the wonderful story that I first heard in the children’s book ‘Zen Shorts’ by Jon J. Muth - the Heavy Load. I can’t do it justice here, but briefly: Two monks pass a young princess who is unable to cross a muddy puddle without getting her robes dirty. The young monk passed by, alarmed by her rudeness to her servants who couldn't help her because their hands were full with her parcels. The older monk, however, lifted her across the puddle and set her down on the other side. The monks then continued on their way without a word of thanks from the princess.
As the day progressed, though, the older monk noticed the growing irritation on his student's face. Finally he asked the young monk why his mood had fallen, opening the floodgates: “The princess was so rude to her servants, standing there expecting to be taken care of. How could you of all people help such a selfish creature?”
The wise old monk responded calmly and simply, as they always do:
I put the princess down hours ago, why are you still carrying her?
Sometimes we need to pause, take a mental inventory, and uncover the burdens we no longer need to carry with us. And be honest with yourself - do you find comfort in some of your burdens? Do they keep you from focusing on even larger burdens in your life?.
How you ultimately rearrange these burdens is a challenge, of course. Some might be easy to drop, but others will linger no matter how hard you try to put them down.
What thoughts are burdening YOU today? Can you leave any of them along the side of the road, right here, right now?