We are in the middle of our Natural Approach to Mental Wellness program, where we experiment with different ways of responding to and participating in life. The exercise for one particular day was “no blocking”. We were to say yes to life’s invitations as they came along (using good judgment, of course), rather than trying to orchestrate things based on our own preferences, interests, and tastes. That night Gregg and I went out to dinner at my new favorite restaurant, while our daughters were at a school dance. When we pulled into Middlebury, I was aware of being VERY hungry, and I was glad when we found a parking spot right near the restaurant. So I was not happy to hear Gregg say, “Let’s take Barley for a little walk before we go in. He’s been in the car for a while and would probably appreciate it.”
What I was thinking was, “Barley’s fine. He doesn’t need to go out again. He looks nice and comfortable just as he is.” But, no-blocker that I was, I said, “Sure.”
We walked Barley through the town and decided to go across a pedestrian bridge that provides a beautiful view of a waterfall, which is right in the center of town. The water was running hard and fast and I enjoyed the sight and feel of it. We then noticed a kayaker at the bottom of the falls. And then immediately spotted another up above, heading right for the falls! Now although we are not talking about Niagara Falls here, we’ve never seen anyone go over those falls in all of the years we’ve lived here. We stood with another couple on the bridge and watched, in amazement as yet another kayaker went over, making it look as easy as pie.
When we got to the end of the bridge, the adventurous trio were getting out with their boats. “We’re going to do it again!”, they told us. So Gregg and I found an even better position from which to watch and took in the show again.
Needless to say, if I had taken the reins, we would not have been witness to this exciting spectacle. We also got to hear more of the terrific live jazz trio at the restaurant because we came in a little later. It just worked out that way. Thanks, Gregg.
But sometimes things don’t work out in a way that we are pleased by. We say yes to life and we feel frustrated and inconvenienced as a result. There are no guarantees about the outcome or about our feelings. But trying on intentional exercises can keep us nimble and awake. This particular exercise of “no blocking” gives us practice at yielding to life. Though the exercise is voluntary, we will all be faced with unavoidable situations which are not. Practicing today can help us to bring more grace and wisdom to tomorrow’s challenge.
Linda Anderson Krech, LICSW, is Program Director of the ToDo Institute and has been a frequent contributor to Thirty Thousand Days. She is the author of Little Dreams: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Parenting and has been teaching Japanese Psychology for over 20 years.