The following is an excerpt from a workbook I wrote for the Healing from Within workshops.
It’s not often you see an orange in the middle of the road. I was driving to work one morning quite some years ago. It was a busy time of day lots of traffic, and suddenly, there it was – an orange in the middle of the road. It was moving, ever so slowly, parallel to the white line, undecided as to its direction. It was a slow-motion orange.
Why was it there and why did it fill me with joy? Cars going past on either side – its orange more orange than ever against the bitumen – it almost glowed. It was so out of place – unexpected – mysterious even and in some way invigorating.
Perspective is what dictates one’s reaction. That orange was a thing of beauty and joy to me – a welcome unexpected sight on my way to work – a happy random splash of colour and form. Not that I think randomness is real – I don’t – nothing is random – not even the orange. It wasn’t even out of place because it was there.
We like everything to be in place – even if we are disorderly and untidy – we like the overall pattern of our life to be in place. Randomness is threatening or is it, like the orange, unexpected and mysterious and could it be invigorating?
The pattern we like to create and for some crazy reason think we control, is subject to change. It may be sudden – like the orange – appearing without warning. It may be gradual giving us time to adjust our pattern and accommodate its coming.
And then sometimes there is fear, pain and even dying on the path before us. It’s the same deal – it’s meant to be there.
I have shared with people who are facing their own imminent death. One minute it seemed they were busy with the life pattern and the next minute they were facing death. Many of these people have said to me through their tears – ‘you are so peaceful and calm – I wish I could be like you’. I always reply ‘that is because I am not standing where you are standing right now and if I was, I would be experiencing the same feelings, be it disbelief, fear, frustration, sadness etc.
Often, they don’t believe me, but it is true – to greater or lesser degrees I would experience the feelings that go with this stage of living.
Once when I was on holiday in Italy, I was having a wonderful time allowing myself to be seduced by the sensual delights of this beautiful country. I enjoyed buying delightful gifts to take home with me. On my last day I saw a statue I wanted to purchase for someone, so I went to the ATM and to my surprise it told me I had insufficient funds. That’s not right, I thought in disbelief – I couldn’t have run out of money! I tried another ATM and another – same story. After my third attempt I had to accept the truth. The holiday was definitely over.
It’s a bit like that when change or even death comes to us unexpectedly. We say – hang on a minute – I haven’t finished yet – I’ve still got things to do. We might even get a second opinion or even a third but, in the end, we know – the holiday is over – it’s time to go home.
Just like the orange in the middle of the road, we have options on how we perceive and what we do with this unexpected interruption to our life pattern but in the end it’s still the same process – saying yes to what is on the path, and being present to what is, as you move through the transition..
I thought about the possible reactions to the orange
- Ignore or not even register there is an orange on the road
- Question why the orange is one the road
- Try to squash the orange for reasons known or unknown
- Annoyance and frustration at the waste of food or that someone deliberately put an orange on the road
- Desire – an instant hunger for an orange
- Indecision – should one stop and try to save the orange
- (this one is my choice) Enjoy the experience of seeing an orange on the road.
A week later, I saw the orange again.
Seriously – the orange had made it across the road – between all the passing cars it had woven its way to the edge. There it was – cradled by green grass – content like a Buddha.
Against all odds, the orange was complete – whole – at peace.