What Is Happening?
A strange thing happened while watching the hockey playoffs earlier this year …
First let me say, I am not a hockey fan. Or at least, I wasn’t until I spent time with a guy who was.
We watched a lot of hockey together this year.
And (I thought) I learned some things along the way.
But it turns out I was wrong. I just got good at picking up cues from everyone else about what was happening. The announcers, the crowd reactions, my guy’s exclamations .. that was informing a LOT of what I understood about how the game was unfolding.
I didn’t know that at first. I thought I actually understood what was happening until a curious thing happened while watching the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs …
We lost sound during the broadcast. We could still see the game, but couldn’t hear it.
For my guy, that meant nothing. He was following the action easily.
Not so for me. Without sound, I was lost. I had no idea what was happening. Didn’t have a hope or prayer of understanding what was happening.
(In my defense, have you ever watched hockey? That puck moves really fast. And I can’t even pretend to pick out plays that are going down – it just seems like random skating and passing to me. I’ve also no idea what ref signals mean.)
No sound – no understanding – right there in the final game of the playoffs! A calamity, right?!
It was the exact opposite.
When we lost sound, and I couldn’t hear the home crowd reactions, and the announcers weren’t shouting things, and my guy was spellbound watching the final minutes of this final game, a strange thing happened …
… a beautiful peace came over me.
All the noise and all the drama and all the suspense was gone. None of it meant anything any more. It was just a bunch of guys skating really well on the ice having a good time as far as I could tell. Burning some good calories, it seemed. That’s as much as I could make of it.
It was beautiful. It was peaceful. It was serene.
I would go so far as to say it was a divine experience to watch something and have no opinion about what was unfolding. It meant nothing to me.
I realized this is how I should have been watching all along. All along!
Okay, this is where I have to tell you about something else that seems unrelated but isn’t …
Sometimes when I read or hear the news, from a totally objective source (I know they’re getting harder to find), but sometimes when I hear from an unbiased source … I don’t exactly know what to make of it.
Like, I’m listening or reading, but I have no idea what it means. What does this mean?! Some leader in some country got imprisoned or elected or said this or did that. Someone signed this or didn’t vote for that. I don’t know what to make of it.
Is it good news or bad? I can’t even tell. They’re reporting so unemotionally. These details are just meaningless to me. (Not always, not even usually, but sometimes.)
And just like while I was watching that soundless hockey game, sometimes not knowing what to make of it is a fabulous experience.
It can be liberating to not know what it means. To not be fed someone else’s take on the situation. And instead to have room to decide for myself. Or not to make it mean anything at all.
To be free to feel peace no matter what. To not use other’s ideas about it as a reason to feel upset or indignant or vindicated.
Just pure peace.
You know how some movies have soundtracks designed to tell you what’s happening? The music tells you: this is sad, that’s cool, this is happy, this is getting scary, triumph is unfolding, etc.
And you know how some movies don’t cue you with music as to how you should feel? So you get to decide for yourself?!
Oh, Matt Damon! Stillwater let me decide for myself. We got to decide for ourselves. Wow! Was that terrible and awful?! Or was that amazing and brave? Was it tragic? Or perfect? We got to decide! Because the music didn’t tell you, and neither did the characters! Each movie watcher could potentially have their own experience of that story!
Look, I appreciate my share of drama now and then, but there’s something cool about not getting caught up in it.
Because possibility arises from peace. When I’m in drama or when I’m in upset, I’ve closed down a fair number of possibilities. Possibilities I might even prefer.
But when I live in peace, I have access to more options.
Everything opens up.
Here’s why I’m sharing this …
(Actually, this might be your cue to not listen to my take on things. Decide for yourself! Tune out my noise and let some peace in to decide for yourself!)
But what I was going to say was …
If you didn’t know that it was scary to lose your job or get served with divorce papers; if you didn’t know that cancer was awful or that global warming was ruining things – how would you feel? What would you make of it?
Maybe outside of those big challenging emotions and storylines we could have the peace and the space and the possibilities to decide for ourselves.
Maybe it’s worth turning down the sound on everyone else’s opinions and not learning so well what the external cues “mean.”
And instead give ourselves the freedom to tell our own version and create our own individual reality.
Because mass consciousness may or may not align with our personal interests and preferences.
Sometimes not knowing what’s happening is a very good thing.
And yes, there are times and situations that matter to us very much, and it’s perfectly appropriate for us to feel whatever we feel and do whatever we’re inspired to do. And it’s super cool when we’re choosing those situations and events for ourselves, instead of letting others hijack our creative power by giving them our inadvertent attention.
I myself have been known to grab the megaphone to tell others what it means and what should be done. (I might even be doing it right now?!)
But the bottom line is this: when you can’t tell what’s happening, and you don’t know how you’re supposed to feel, you’re free to make it up yourself.
And we know how to make it good, right?