As a child it’s so exciting when your cousins from out of town come visiting. I remember eagerly waiting for my cousins to come. But it also creates some anxiety. There is always that one cousin is very bossy, or one who is very irritating or even the one who sucks up all the attention.
Human memory remembers specific memories and not our entire stream of experiences. These moments are usually moments of exaggerated emotion - both high and low. One such memory for me is this scene - my siblings are sitting in a circle and playing a game in my grandparent's home. They are having so much fun. I am standing outside the circle. I’m not included in their game. Now to be honest I dont remember whether I was not in the circle because I was sulking or because they were mean to me. And probably it doesn’t even matter.
What I remember clearly is what I did next. I picked up some stones and sticks, laid them in a pile away a little but not too far from where my cousins were playing. I then proceeded to create my own make believe game. I made up some fantastical story and started putting some sticks through some loops and shifted some stones around as though I was doing something really sophisticated. I pretended to be having a lot of fun. I smiled as I played and even managed a little laugh here and there.
What do you think happened next? One by one my cousins approached me. ‘What are you playing?’ They asked. They wanted to be a part of my game!
I have always believed that ‘no matter what happens around me, how I want to feel and think is my choice’. Like almost everyone else I also go through bouts of sadness, anger, jealousy, and irritation. I am NOT always able to choose how I feel. I to react. But one thing is deeply ingrained in me, and has been for a very long time, that is that how I feel is 100% my responsibility. No matter who triggers me, no matter what they did toz provoke me, no matter what unfairness took place, whatever I am feeling is MY choice and MY responsibility.
I may not yet have developed the inner control to choose how to respond in some emotionally charged situations. But that fact is that it is POSSIBLE for me to choose my response. I still have to develop the ability. A young eagle may not yet soar in the sky, but it has the innate potential. It has to learn and grow strong, but it will fly. Similarly, you and I have the ability to choose our responses. And hence how I feel in any given situation, must be held as my responsibility and no one else's. I cannot blame anyone for how I am feeling. And then having chosen to stay peaceful and strong and happy, I can decide what my next action should be. To me, that is the definition of living a good life.