Epiphany on Platform 4
By: Grazyna Witkowska Date: 30th May 2020
One day I slept through the alarm…. Not a big deal you might say. But it was, this was the morning of my kinesiology exam! Big, big, biiiiiig deal.
I was feeling panicky, dizzy, and a little surreal. But in some strange way I felt that there had to be a way to get to the exam on time. Just like at that time that the tube to Heathrow stopped and I felt I might not make it for my flight to Venice… – but that’s a different story.
I couldn’t quite see how I will make it to the exam, yet, that inner sense of being able to make it kept me focused on finding a solution. Did you ever have that kind of inner conviction?
So, what could I do? Just give it my best shot! As St Francis once said: “Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible”. So, I rushed out the door, rushed to a bus, rushed to a train. My usual train was gone, I wasn’t familiar with this route, and it was before I had a train timetable app… Out of desperation I jumped on the train that would take me part way there. As I realised later that was not the best strategy – but it worked this time.
And as I got out to change trains in Hurstville I learned that the next train to my destination was due soon on platform 4 and it would get me there some 3 minutes before the start of the class! That was great – with a bit of luck the train will be on time and with my readiness to run from the station, I could just make it.
That made me feel better. And as I was feeling the stress beginning to melt away I was becoming quite elated. Does that happen to you too? When the victory is uncertain and then it is won, this victory seems so much sweeter. As if I have achieved the impossible.
I watched with curiosity as a single wagon slowly rolled through the platform. Inside there were 2 men, many monitors, and a whole lot of electronic equipment.
As that wagon rolled away I mused about people checking train tracks so our train journeys from point A to point B are safe…, I mused how people had had to lay the tracks in the first place…, how someone had to melt the metal for railway tracks…, invent electric engine and build an electric locomotive…. – You know what I mean.
And then I had this epiphany… a realisation struck me that all problems on earth are not because we have too many people but because people are not always operating from the ‘best version of themselves’! (Yes, that’s where my business name was conceived.)
So, when I am concern about the wild animal habitat being destroyed by the encroaching human civilisation, when I read that a jogger kicked two young signets out of his way (must have been a hard kick because one of the signets died despite efforts to save her) the solution may not be so obvious as to rid my world of people who do thoughtless, callus, stupid things.
It, sure angers me reading about this jogger. And anger is good. Let me explain. If you read my post about change (titled: The Times They Are A-Changin’) you already know that many cultures look at life and interpret personal and global events cyclically. The changing seasons remind us about it each year. And for the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there are 5 elements in the cycle: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. They correspond respectively to spring, summer, late summer, autumn and winter. Anger is an emotion that in TCM relates to the Wood element. And Wood, as the spring, represents the new growth, the beginning of a new cycle. So, what does anger has to do with growth?
In our popular culture we think that anger is bad that it should be kept under control. Well, today I’d like us to take a different look at anger. If we understand where is the anger coming from, what makes it well up in us – we will discover, we will be reminded, about something that has a great importance to us. If we push this anger into the proverbial dark closet because it is not cool to express it – it will fester. And as we know from Jung, this suppressed emotion will jump out of this closet in the least appropriate moment and in a least appropriate form. And thus, it is useful to attend to our anger when it arises or soon after. Purposefully, diligently. Let’s look at a simple example: Have you been angry with something another person did? And did you do anything about it?
If you expressed it calmly and constructively the chances are that you felt better. Firstly, you understood why you became angry, and secondly you expressed yourself outlining what is not acceptable to you and why. Even if the other person didn’t seem to listen to what you said I bet you felt good that you did it, that you stood up for what you believe in a manner that was respectful to all.
If you reacted with lots of anger the chances are that you already have a lot of suppressed anger stored in your dark closet and this particular event acted as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The way you reacted was not just an expression of your anger to the situation at hand, but rather a reaction to all accumulated anger to a range of similar incidents that you kept in your dark closet. As the new event triggered you, the closet door cracked open and all the related anger poured out. And you are not too chaffed. Because the anger you expressed was not proportional to the transgression that was committed. As you sort out your closet you will be in a better position to react using appropriate level of anger.
If you said nothing and just swallowed your anger – then you simply stuffed it in your dark closet. It’s ok to do that as long as you do some planned airing soon. Otherwise be prepared for camels with broken backs showing up in your life. 🙂
In this simple illustration I wanted to raise a point that anger tells us what is no longer acceptable to us. And knowing that, gives us an opportunity to change it. Anger can drive us with the fresh energy to change what no longer serves us – us as individuals and us as a society.
So, the next time you experience anger notice it, acknowledge it, check what sparked it and what message it is bringing to you. And then ask yourself how could you respond to this message from that inner space of the ‘best version of you’.
You already know that whatever you are doing is having an effect, close and far, and whether you are aware of it or not. To act from the best version of self, includes being aware, aware of self and aware of what we create.
I don’t know about you, but I cannot quite imagine yet the full extent of beauty possible in the world if everyone operated from the best versions of themselves. This is because my imagination is limited by what I know to-date as possible. And yet, just as I knew that there was a chance I could make it to the exam in time, I have a sense that such beauty beyond imagination is possible.
Imagine all the billions of individuals acting as if life mattered beyond themselves and beyond just today. And imagine the incredible chain reaction as their actions become the spring platforms for others – all acting from the best versions of themselves.
And I bet, you already know that you were born to be one of those shining stars expressing the best version of your innate beauty. But where to start? I agree with St Francis, “Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible”.
And if you need support along the way you can always call me
May the FORCE (of anger) be with you!
…helping you break through the invisible barriers to the best version of you!
By the way, I did make it to the exam in time. And I passed! So you see, anything is possible!