THE TAO OF FINE - 30 January 2014
The Rio Grande Gorge - Taos, New Mexico
I was listening to my radio while driving from California to New Mexico last week. Just as I tuned into this one talk show, people were calling in talking about how "fine" they were. The normal content of this show is political commentary. Hearing people talk about their issues and troubles and then declare at the end of their call that they are "fine" was kind of interesting to me. I don't know why this show asked people to talk about how they were but it reminded me of a few ideas I considered a while back. The crux of those thoughts is: "Being fine is a choice."
I watched a movie this weekend with my sister. The family presented in this movie was extremely troubled. Lots of family issues of various types, issues every normal family has to deal with. The acting was awesome, which was enjoyable, but I was cringing throughout the movie because the characters were mean to each other in many ways. They were self-centered in other ways. You could see the choices the characters where making. Instead of taking a path that might've been productive or supportive, they took the fork in the road that lead to fights and more arguing. It was difficult to watch.
Interestingly, I thought of this week’s article before seeing that movie but it's a perfect demonstration of what I was thinking. In so many ways, the characters in the movie were making the decisions to head down the road that led to fights. Some of the characters were in their own situations beyond themselves, but the main characters were all about, “Woe is me!”
In my experience, despite all the bad stuff life can throw at me, I find it is my choice to be upset with my situation. Crazy as it sounds, I have been totally upset, then, someone has said a few words that completely changed my perspective and brought a tremendous smile to my face. If turning on a dime from being upset to smiling isn’t a demonstration of how our own minds can choose our feelings, I’m not sure what is. The observation for me is: as bad as things can get, I still have a choice in how I feel about it.
This isn’t easy stuff, picking the better road. It can be a struggle every single time. Even that—having a struggle—adds to the struggle. As much as I know about the power of “choice,” I do get upset with myself if I can’t “turn it around” on command. Even though I’ve experienced and used this power to choose not to be upset, I get upset when I can’t seem to make that choice—it’s a vicious circle. I guess this means making that choice is not easy stuff.
I know this sounds a bit like magic, this whole process of choosing not to be upset versus just hankering for a fight. That's the point of the title, “The Tao of Fine.” When you greet someone you haven’t seen in a while and you ask how they are, what do you think they could say? They could talk about the pain in their foot, the achy back, the issues with the kids or husband. They could even complain about the direction of the country. But, with all of that going on in their lives, their response could be, “I’m fine. Thank you for asking.” There’s a real power there.
We all have our laundry list of issues at any given moment. Every one of those issues is significant, I’m sure. But, those are just the circumstances that make up our lives. They do not really represent us. I would much rather talk about what’s making a difference in my life instead of the gigantic list of issues I deal with every single day. Also, I totally acknowledge the courage of people who are able to declare, “I’m fine,” even when the wheels might be falling off. It takes quite a person not to succumb to the lower road when it’s really tough, but instead take the stand, “All things considered, I’m fine.”