What is this saying to me?
This is the only question I ask. And I ask it all the time.
Well, not really. I ask other questions sometimes haha
But when I face a phenomenon, some experience that I do not know how to interpret, something which confuses me, something someone says that I do not understand, or something happening to me or around me that seems like maybe it shouldn’t be happening, be here I am witnessing it happening, I usually have a natural reaction that is emotional and defensive. Which can be getting angry, hating someone, making some snarky comment or remark, coming up with a witty response, telling a joke, all things to avoid confrontation with the reality that’s laid out in front of me.
Instead, I’ve learned to ask myself: What is this saying to me? Now, granted, I don’t always have this Zen-like clarity of mind on the spot like a monk. But I do what I can.
Sometimes when I’m driving, I see a dead animal on the road. Like a cat or a dog usually. My mind wanders off to this animal’s life, and how they were living breathing little creatures, who slept, who ate, who felt fear, anger, and hurt, until they found themselves on that road. Eventually being seen by me driving by.
Why am I seeing this? Why is this part of reality? What is the presence of this saying to me? Is this the punishment that this animal deserved? Is it telling me that you won’t get the fairness you think is right? Is it telling me that death is arbitrary? Does an animal deserve to be ran over by a human driver, a human it did nothing to hurt? What does that mean? Like seriously, that’s like you being squashed by an alien who was bothered by your body’s magnetic field. I don’t even know if we have a magnetic field. I’m just making this up. You see how arbitrary this is? A dog is just running around, doesn’t understand how roads work and doesn’t know to expect cars the way we expect cars when we cross the roads.
This doesn’t sound fair to me.
Or when I go to class in university, and every signal and interaction I have with the professor tells me only one single thing: your learning is not my priority.
What the….. What am I supposed to do with that? What does that even mean? How is it ok that this is happening? But here it is, happening… What is this saying to me?
What does it say that the teacher doesn’t prioritize my learning? What is this reality telling me? What is it saying at me? Its presence is a statement. What is the statement? Can I read it? What does it say?
This is the question I keep asking myself. I realize now that this question is many things, one of them is a trick to acceptance. By being curious what this thing means, I implicitly accept the thing. It’s interesting how that works.
It’s when I accept the dead dog in the road and ask what that means, and when I accept that my learning in university is at best secondary to the faculty and ask what that means, and when I keep asking “What is this saying to me?” at as many things as I do not understand, that I find myself developing philosophies to understand things I would never have imagined I’d make peace with.
When I ask this question, I look at this experience, which I feel shouldn’t be, and just sit with it for a moment, and look at it with curiosity and interest. I look at this thing I just witnessed as like a baby, and wonder: Who’s the mother this baby came from? What is the mother like? Am I in danger? Should I be scared? Or should I feel playful, and that this is a safe environment?
When I see something I don’t understand, or something I feel shouldn’t be, I ask myself: What is this saying to me?