The Crisis of Right Now.

     Religious or not, lessons can be learned from the Israelites. One instance that never sat well with me is their inability to have faith even when their God was sending food from heaven, guiding them by a column of fire, and sheltering them with a constant cloud. It’s not within the scope of this blog to get into the factuality or interpretation of Scripture. Even taken as an allegory or story, this is a beautiful lesson in habituation.
     For those of you not psychologically minded, let me explain: Habituation is the ability of an organism to get use to something. Things that were once not normal, become everyday. We habituate to our pay increase, how fast we’re going on the highway, and to the temperature of the water in the pool. Initially, these things may jar or startle us, but we acclimate to them and then ignore them. While there are limits, there is very little to which we cannot habituate. Habituation makes sense, otherwise we would walk around so constantly amazed at everything we wouldn’t be able to hold a job, a conversation, or consistent thought. We would constantly be aware of the clothes we have on, our scent, or our own heart beating. That’s no way to go through life. But just because we aren’t constantly aware of these things, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to them at times. It just means that paying attention has to be intentional.
     This becomes especially important in the “crisis of right now”. If the “crisis of right now” overwhelms the accomplishments of “yesterdays then”, we may readily succumb to universal thinking and global assessments. The top phrase to demonstrate this has to be, “Nothing will ever change!” In those four words the entirety of all existence and time has been condemned to static nothingness. That’s fairly bold.
     The Israelites, in facing their “crisis of right now” neglected to remember the miracles of their “yesterdays then”. That God had showered them with food, protected them from the heat, brought forth water from rock, and guided them with fire, crumbled in their awareness of their immediate threat. They had become so habituated to the miraculous parts of their life, they failed to have hope. Whether those miracles really happened or not is beside the point.
     The point is this: How would I interact with my children differently if, amidst a tantrum, I was to stop and remember how I marveled at their birth? How would I interact with people differently if, amidst my frustration with them, I were to stop and remember the brevity of life? Perhaps, instead of stopping to smell the flowers, we should stop to remember the successes of “yesterday’s then” when overwhelmed with the crisis of “right now”.

Wax On

     Karate Kid was an awesome movie. Not the new one, the one with Mr Miyagi. “Wax on; wax off. Left circle; right circle”. Daniel didn’t understand what sensei was teaching him at the time. He became frustrated, demanded that he wanted to learn karate, not how to paint and wax cars.
Several scenes later and Daniel is being attacked by the bullies! Unless they are accustomed to settling disputes via household chores, Daniel is done for! But then, something happens. Something unexpected by the audience, the bullies, and Daniel: he totally makes “left circle/wax off”, AND BLOCKS A PUNCH! Daniel’s short lived success gives way to surprise and doubt, and he gets beaten like a rented mule, but that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because the encounter gave him the realization that while he had no clue what Miyagi was teaching him, it was working and he had to learn to trust those lessons regardless of the wrappers they came in.
      When learning more about ourselves through therapy, life, or a trusted friend, there is a process. Trust the process. Don’t allow surprise to sabotage your success. With parents, with friends, with isolation, and with our selves, let’s continue to practice what we’ve begun to learn, even if we don’t fully understand it.