Though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings.
but don’t move
The way that fear makes you move.
Nearly at the “end” of over a three year process (and a six figure budget) of totally remodeling my home, I have been diagnosed with – TERMITES!
Within thirty seconds of the first phone call, the exterminator said “There are two kinds of homes; those who have termites and those who will have termites.” “What a relief,” I said sarcastically to the non-empathic stranger on the phone.
I went through all the stages; Denial, anger, blah, blah, blah…
For those of you who have gone through it, I am sincerely sorry for your troubles. For those of you who haven’t, I strongly encourage you to be proactive with regular preventive inspections; kind of like flossing for your 2 X 4‘s.
I will spare you the many details, but It’s quite an expensive and invasive ordeal to prepare for the treatment process. And the further I got into the preparation phase for exterminating these creatures, who were literally eating me out of house and home, the more I had to take a look at what was also eating me up inside.
Apart from the normal frustration I was feeling about the timing of all this, I spiraled into a bout of sourness that now seems disproportionate to the problem.
So as these “pests” were moving within my physical home, I had to stop and take a look at the overall situation to begin to get a grip on what was moving within my psychological home.
After the dust settled (literally and metaphorically,) I realized it was my old friend, fear, who insidiously began to take up residence in my mind; to start running the show of my life again.
By the time I had a clue about this termite in my mind, he had snowballed into something of mammoth proportions.
“You’re not going to make it,” he hissed at me at 3:00 a.m. from a sound sleep. “You can’t win, can you?” he snickered. On and on he went in this way for about a week until it was time to throw down.
But alas, instead of fighting with him the way I tend to, I decided to invite him in for a cup of coffee instead. To my surprise, he accepted my invitation and we began to chat.
“What’s up with all this banter about not making it?” I began.
“Well,” he said “the economy is tanking, business is slow, you just got slammed with yet another big veterinarian bill and now this.”
“True enough,” I responded “but I still don’t know what you mean by ‘I’m not going to make it.”
“Financially.” he said “Don’t you get it; you’re not going to make it financially!”
Once again I played dumb; “Well, what does it really mean to not make it financially?”
In growing frustration, he replied “You’re going to tank, too, just like the economy; every year costs are going up, income is going down and you’re headed for inevitable bankruptcy. If not that, you are at least grossly ill prepared for retirement.”
“How do you know I‘m not going to make it?” I asked.
“I just know these things,” he said, “I‘m good at it.”
“Is that right,” I replied, “and just what is it that you’re so good at?”
“I have a lot of experience at Scar” – and then he suddenly stopped himself.
“At what?” I inquired. “You have a lot of experience at what?”
“At scarring people,” he admitted, exhaling in shame.
“Well why do you want to scare people?” I asked.
“It’s the only thing I’m good at; It’s the only thing I know how to do. Just like the termites; I creep up from dark places and slowly devour the structure of your temple.”
“O.K.,” I bargained “I get it; you have your job, and I have mine.”
“Oh yea, what’s your job in all this?” he said feeling less powerful all the time.
“My job is to keep my faith through this challenge; which is but one of hundreds of others I have triumphed over in the past.”
“Faith!” he blurted, “What do you know about faith?”
“It’s not what I know about faith that matters,” I humbled myself, realizing how I had lost my way once again. “It’s how I practice faith that counts.”
“O.K., then how do you practice faith?” he said with obviously decreasing intimidation.
“Oh, that’s simple” I said. “All I have to do is be willing to do the next right thing and I‘ll be just fine. What I just learned about treating termites; the real ones that live in the dirt, is a lot like dealing with termites in the mind, bullies like you.”
“Yea,” I continued. “The exterminator said this will be a long-term process involving periodic inspections and further treatments. At first I felt overwhelmed by it, but now I realize It’s just like everything else in life. Whether it’s treatment and recovery from addiction, termites or anything else, it’s an on-going practice of continually putting in the effort and letting go of the results.”
Our conversation went on for a long while; until I realized that I had actually invited fear into my temple with my pesty attitude. And just like the real termites in my walls, I couldn’t control it until I was aware of it and willing to do the next right thing.
These things do happen.
The “obstacles” in our paths are our paths. The only thing we can control is our attitude by stretching beyond our fear and resistance.
So as Rumi suggests, move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move.
What’s buggin’ you? Can you name some of the “termites” (attitudes) currently devouring your temple? What are they?
How can you skillfully dialogue with them?
Can you understand that the so called “obstacles” in your path are your path? If you can, you will enjoy the journey of your life a lot more.
How can you move from within in a way that’s not driven by fear?
How can you stretch beyond your fear and resistance? What’s the next right thing for you to do in your life today? (Hint: It’s usually small and ordinary.)