"A philosopher was asked: 'What, then, is our duty?' And his answer, in short, was: 'It is what the day requires.'"
--From an article by Cheryl Christy, a breast cancer fighter for 17 years.
The other day I set out from home with a "to do" list six hours long and three hours in which to accomplish it.
In addition this was supposed to have been a "writing day," and I was hoping to get home "early" and squeeze in a hour of writing before I had to go and pick the kids up from school.
Needless to say, things didn't work out quite as I had planned.
Everywhere I went there were people who needed me: I ran into a friend of a friend who had just been laid off and needed a hug, I ran into a grocery store worker who just needed someone to talk to, and as I pulled up outside of my house, I ran into a neighbor who needed some sympathy.
Each time I saw the person right before they saw me and thought to myself, "Ooh! There's so-and-so, they are probably going to want to talk. I don't really have time for that.....doh! They saw me."
At that moment I could feel my stomach lurch and my heart sink, knowing I was caught.
But I also knew that "caught" was where I was supposed to be.
It's all very well for me to sit here with my laptop, typing about Oneness and Unity and Love; it's quite another having to put it into practice in the world.
What do you do when the day doesn't go as planned? When what is required is talking to someone in pain when you don't have the time? Staying home with a sick child when all you want to do is get some work done?
What I used to do is get angry and rail against whatever - or whomever - it was that got in my way. Sometimes an interrupted plan could cost me a whole day of anger and frustration. Sometimes I would get so angry I'd feel like I had an anger "hangover" the next day.
Now it's just uncomfortable. My chest gets tight, my stomach feels queasy, my breathing quickens and I know I need to take a step back, take a deep breath and remember that my meditation practice and my reading and my writing don't mean a thing if I turn my back on a person standing in front of me with pain in their heart.
Sometimes what the day requires is putting aside my "to do" list for the one God has written for me. I imagine it would go something like this:
Love Your Children
Love Your Husband
Love Your Friends
Love Your Neighbors
Love EveryoneThen do the grocery shopping.