Woe are you. Zen is me.

Are you prepared for your downfall?

Let me rephrase that question. No preparation necessary.

Are you at peace with your eventual downfall?

Have you accepted that everything physical you are today will inevitably be destroyed?

Throughout this life, we become witness to many cycles; the cycles of the seasons; the daily cycles of the sun and the moon; the rise and fall of the tides; the ebb and flow of the stock market; the constant transformation of life into death followed by the rebirth of life.

The cyclical harmony of the positive and the negative.

It seems that lately, I have hit a part of the cycle that I am not the biggest fan of. Hit by a barrage of unfortunate events, I found myself faced with a choice. I watched myself become that space between stimulus and response. I found myself, in the same place I have been many times before, experiencing a cyclical season of negative energy and deciding how to react.

A groggy morning turned into a stale realization that I no longer had health insurance. It was at that moment that I fell into a plague of a rash. Some kind of allergic reaction had overcome my entire body with a nagging itch that the world’s supply of calamine lotion could not remedy. Then came the rain. It rained for 7 days and 7 nights, which seemed to be foreshadowing because what followed the rain was the death of an automobile. Something snapped in that trooper of a car, which was the straw that broke that camel’s back. Now, forced to car pool, and find some way to buy a new car in a timely manner, I was left stranded at my workplace with a phone that was quickly fading. A ride home was fortunately an easy fix, which is when I suddenly realized that I had no home. Or at least no way to get inside. The keys to my home were destined to be in someone else’s hands at this specific moment…and that someone with my keys wouldn’t find me stranded here for another 9 hours at a staggering 3 AM in the morning.

I could very well be kidnapped by that point.

All will be made right within a few moments. As soon as I shoot off this flare, someone will come to my rescue! I shoot texts to a few trusty friends. There’s one percent left on my phone and it’s fading faster than before. I make a few calls. They all go to voicemail. What now? One of my friends is calling me back and as I hit the answer button, the phone screen goes black. Another death so close to home. I was now homeless, grieving over my technological losses, standing in the pouring rain, approaching dusk, and with no way to call for help.

I’m embellishing a bit. Allow the drama to bring to light the full affect of Zen. And of course, the issues I ran into above don’t compare to some of the other struggles people around the world face, but I hope you can relate to my above situation and see it in a similar perspective your own struggles when nothing seems to go the way you had hoped.

So there I am, dressed in full business get-up, trekking down the side of the road in the pouring rain, a mile from the nearest shelter of a friend I hope is home waiting for me with welcome arms…hoping I’ll have a hot meal and a bed for the night. As I marched, one foot after the next, stepping in puddle after puddle and soaking wet from head to toe, I realized that my next few thoughts would determine my mood and emotion regarding this situation.

Hit by a barrage of unfortunate events, I found myself faced with a choice. I watched myself become that space between stimulus and response. I found myself, in the same place I have been many times before, experiencing a cyclical season of negative energy and deciding how to react. 

So I looked up into the sky, felt the rain drops plowing into my fleshy cheeks, and smiled the biggest smile imaginable. I chose Zen.

I stripped myself of all expectation. I began to absorb the situation for what it was and without hesitation, I forced the most glaring feelings of love towards the situation. I immediately put into perspective all the material losses I had incurred recently and loved those losses for the experiences that they brought. I understand that one day, my time on this Earth will be done and one day I will physically be destroyed; cease to exist as we know it here on Earth. I was at peace with that, but none of these things were going to destroy me. When the cycle came back around to the positive side of things, I was going to exist even stronger than before. For that, I loved everything about the experience.

I was total Zen.

You see, Zen is loving unconditionally.

Zen is loving all things unconditionally.

Zen is finding a way within yourself to love unconditionally while simultaneously being smothered by condition. 

Zen is seeing condition for exactly what it is: Circumstance.

I realized that this condition would pass. To let this condition have an effect on who I choose to be would be weak minded and I would feed right into the negative energy that was inevitable. Conditional circumstance is temporary, but unconditional love is infinite.

And so, I challenge you:

Love unconditionally.

Choose unconditional love when bombarded by condition.

Choose Zen.

James Garner