A man approaches an enlightened master and wants the master to take him on as his protege. The master agrees, hands him a small cup and tells him to go to the sea, fill it with water and return. When the man gets to the beach he sees a beautiful woman. He falls in love. Soon they get married. He builds a house, starts a farm and they begin raising their family. Many years go by in this happy and busy way until one day during a terrible storm, a giant tidal wave claims the lives of all his loved ones and destroys everything he’s built. Months later as he’s going through the rubble that the storm left behind, he discovers the cup that the master had given him. Remembering, he walks to the water, fills it up and carries it back to him.
This story illustrates how easily we can lose sight of our purpose and become lost in day to day living, until something drastic reminds us of our inner calling.
I started thinking of the many times each day we get distracted from our own life and get caught up in other people’s stories. Not only do we start investing our time and attention in other people’s drama, we also begin subjecting ourselves to all kinds of emotional onslaught. Most of the time we don’t even realise we are doing it. For example, a few years ago while driving I was overtaken violently by another driver forcing me into a very defensive state. ‘How could he do this to me especially as there are children in the back seat’, was my first thought, but before I could get to my second, I saw him do the same thing to another driver. As if in a flash of lightning, it became clear to me that there was nothing personal towards me in that man’s action. This was his story and had nothing to do with me. The panic in me subsided abruptly and peace resurfaced. Just like that.
It makes you realise how easily thoughts like these can place you smack in the middle of someone else’s autobiography. As we begin noticing the many stories around us, we start becoming more conscious of how little they have to do with us. In side stepping the grey noise, we are more likely to stay centred ourself and be much more receptive to our own journey as it reveals itself to us. The next time we find ourselves being pulled into other people’s drama, let’s choose to remember the wise advice a friend and fellow coach gave me: Not my circus, not my monkeys!