By Fred Marshall, MD
The other morning, as I was listening to the radio on my drive to work, the music was interrupted by an announcer with a stentorian tone: “Severe Storm Warning for Monroe and the Surrounding Counties.” In a matter of just a few more blocks, the weather transformed from docile to frantic. Trees were losing their branches, the wind was howling, leaves were swirling, and the rain was horizontal.
By the time I arrived at work (sans raincoat or umbrella) there seemed to me to be no alternative but to start my clinic day sopping wet. I parked the car and ran for it . . . only to find that the first patient of the day had wisely cancelled.
There is wisdom in sitting quietly as the storm blows loudest. But there I sat: breathless, wet, and irritated in my empty waiting room.
I often despair of finding true equanimity. Emotions such as fear, anger, and frustration, percolate up like so many methane bubbles from the depths of a muddy swamp.
Oh! There is another, and another!
As I contemplated the endless ways in which I have stumbled in my interactions with others, it occurred to me that perhaps the root of my difficulty was how I have habitually interacted with myself.
Hadn’t I just observed that the world changes? Haven’t I also experienced the way in which my own emotions emerge, crest, and recede?
What if beyond my anxiety awaits true generosity of spirit?
What if beyond my frustration awaits sympathetic joy?
What if beyond my anger awaits compassion?
What if beyond my loneliness awaits a sense of seamless unity with nature?
Yes, there is wisdom in sitting quietly as the storm blows loudest, in listening as equanimity softly whispers.