Wouldn’t it be sweet if our anxiety and fretful nature could be replaced by the simplicity and acceptance expressed in one word – “Next!”
Whatever the challenges in our lives, we want to be ready to meet them. Whatever we wake up to – whether in our professional life, relationships, or health conditions – we want to have the same poise and balance as the person behind the bakery or deli counter, welcoming his next customer with the friendly greeting, “Next!”
What bewildering, demanding assignment has life given us today? What completely outrageous problem must we find a way to now solve? Whether it’s a leak in the plumbing, a funny noise in the car, or a raised eyebrow from our doctor, the idea of simply facing the task straightforwardly is appealing. All that is required is an open heart, a curious mind, and a willingness to engage with reality.
There are, of course, alternative ways to view the world. One of the more common approaches is to hope each morning when we open our eyes that the day will go smoothly. Smoothly being that nothing should interfere with our pre-existing plans. No unpleasant delays or detours should confront us, especially no events that make us aware of our own limitations.
If we approach life with the expectation that nothing ought to interfere with our own predilections and preferences, we are likely to resist and reject much of what happens to us. Resisting what is real, fighting with reality, getting angry and depressed with ‘what is’ is an exhausting and, ultimately, losing battle. Reality has a persistent way of showing up on our doorstep. We can waste a whole lot of time wishing reality were simpler, less demanding. But the ever changing circumstances of our lives keep presenting themselves to us. The critical question is: How will we respond?
We may not have the temperament or the spiritual maturity to greet every challenge with peaceful composure or to delight in whatever is God’s will. It takes trust in our teachings and our Master to welcome each new disruption in our life calmly and with composure. Baba Ji has frequently reminded us that it’s not so important what life deals out to us as it is how we react to it.
There is appeal to the image of someone behind a counter yelling out “Next!” – determined to offer what service and talent are available when a new proverbial ‘customer’ appears. As we get older, we must ask life’s challenges to get in line and take a number. And we can fully expect some of the ‘customers’ to be gracious and some to be difficult. Some of the changes ahead will bring astonishing new life. Some will break our hearts. And when one challenge appears to have been met and fully addressed, we can be confident that the next challenge is waiting in the wings.
Euripides wrote 2,500 years ago, “All is change; all yields its place and goes.” (Little Book of Positive Quotations, 2006) Then we find ourselves face-to-face with the mystery of whatever comes next.