Setbacks suck. They especially suck when you are blindsided. They especially, especially suck when you are blindsided while you are already in the midst of another crisis. You feel as though the Universe itself is conspiring against you. The truth is, nobody is so important that the Universe will collect its entire force to inflict misery upon any solitary person. Still, that’s how we feel in those dark moments.
Last week, my chapter of the board of REALTORS hosted an event filled with relaxation and self-protection. We learned some basic tai chi (shake that tree to make the stress fall away). We also learned some very, very basic martial arts. The senseis performed a demo for us. One acted as the attacker and threw his fist at the other. They paused just as they were about to connect. The sensei being attacked said that it is often instinctive to see the fist coming and put up your arms to absorb the blow of the hit as best as you can. This can be somewhat effective but the attacker remains in charge and you are victim to the event, albeit to a lesser degree than intended. A more effective response is to put your arms up to defend but instead of absorbing the hit, divert the attacker’s energy by using your arms to deflect the attacker’s fists downward. This way, you take charge of the energy — even if for a moment — but a moment is all you need to derail the attack, remove yourself from the situation and alter the outcome. This is not something that requires a lot of physical strength. Rather, it is about maintaining presence of mind, even while in crisis.
It is during this week’s ill-timed, blindsiding setback that I find myself at a crossroad and reflecting on what I learned from the sensei. I can absorb the hit and allow myself to get struck down. I can plunge deeper into the identity of “victim of circumstance.” I can lay there in the calm of the aftermath but soon I will fall into a downward spiral, gaining momentum that will eventually become to powerful to resist and impossible to rise against. Or I can maintain my presence of mind during the crisis and redirect the damning energy into a productive force to help me not only out of this event but to use that momentum to defeat prior negative circumstances.
One of those paths at the crossroad is infinitely more appealing. One person is in charge of making that choice. I need to have faith in her…and faith has a way of only showing up when one is being tested.