August 27, 2012

The Mind is like water that can either give a ship buoyancy or sink it. When we have the ability to generate the thoughts we desire, we are able to bring forth the life we want. When we lack mastery over our mind, we become the victim of our own mind functioning. From Just Use This Mind Every day I drive to work down the same street. I leave my home and the busyness of children, the barking of dogs and the processing of breakfast dishes, and I get into the quiet car. I used to listen to the radio on the way to work–I thought I might get happy energy from the songs, or inspiration from a particular lyric that came across the airwaves. As work became more stressful, the songs began to jar; they didn’t provide happiness or insight, they just became noise, directed at me. To control the stress, I began to use the driving time to create a priority list of tasks. I had only a few minutes in the car, and I had to take full advantage of them, had to think hard. I would recall the list generated the evening before, add in anything that has arisen in the meantime and start generating solutions.  Even before sitting down, I would write down the revised list. Often I couldn’t even get to the desk before other people’s needs and desires would pull me off the list, yet unwritten. I stopped making revised lists and began to deal with the reality I encountered when I arrived.  Soon enough the ways my priorities had changed overnight would become evident. I began to see the ride through traffic in the little bubble of my car as a time of peaceful isolation. If I did nothing on that ride except drive and observe the passing landscape, when I arrived, I was calm and ready to meet the day with equanimity. Whatever had transpired overnight had transpired. Now, I sit at my desk, observe the changes and pick up where I left off the evening before. Publishing is ever-changing. Each season’s list has new authors, and each author brings new energy. There is never enough time in a day to do everything possible to promote a book, and expectation is always high, because the work is so personal. When we deal with someone’s words we take that person’s life’s work, message, spirit into our care. It is not work to be taken lightly, no matter the subject. We have to keep our thoughts in order, be responsive rather than reactive. It is hard to remain calm all day, no matter how peacefully I arrived. We have an expression at Bright Sky Press: stay low in the boat. When one of us says it to another, we mean don’t freak out. We all know that freaking out doesn’t help. No matter the circumstances. If work is busy, if there is more to do than humanly possible, if somehow there has been a miscommunication of expectations or reality has failed to meet dreams, the waters are choppy, the current runs faster than usual. The boat is already more vulnerable. But how do we stay low in the boat? Focus on the moment. Focus on keeping balanced, and on experiencing the ride. If our thoughts create the life we are living, we need to master our thoughts, so they don’t hop around shouting “Man overboard,” don’t muddy the waters we’re trying to navigate. No matter what our boat passes through, if our thoughts are clear, and not reactive, we can observe the passing scenery and calmly arrive at the best course of action. When there is too much noise, too many lyrics, too many lists, we are all over the boat.  It rocks wildly, and the water threatens to fill it and put us under. When we stay low in the boat and on top of the water, we see everything we pass with clarity. As we move with the current, however quickly, we might catch a glimpse of a trout leaping from the rapids or the sun glinting on the scales of the little fish below the surface.  We might be in the midst of the life we want.