I was living life the other day and I felt acutely the places where I come up against myself. The place where I am present, living, fully aware of life and all its magic and then something comes along that scares me, shuts me down and I can feel the cloak of indifference take over. It was a physical act. It was real. It happened in my body.
It was so dramatic when it happened, that I was changed by the experience. I began to think of other times when I felt the same.
What happens in life to shut me down, turn me off?
Well, there are a lot of things. Too many, in fact, to name or list here. And I wouldn’t even if I could because I do not want to talk about what it is that opens me up or shuts me down, I want to talk about what happens in the opening and shutting.
It is the thing that happens before the opening or the shutting, the indifferencing is what gives rise to the shutting.
Think of yourself in your kitchen, a line of ants marches across your counter. You are appropriately irritated, vexed, perhaps even angered…and there is a moment before you begin to take action that paves the way for what happens next. Does your heart open or shut? Now for most people on the planet, you close off. You do not think of the ants at all, you obliterate them with a can of Raid or a great sweep of your hand. They are gone, the irritation ended and you move on. What allowed you to summarily wipe out them all? Indifferencing. You became indifferent to them, their plight, their intrusion, their purpose. They were in your way, altering your life so you took care of it.
How is this different from wiping out gophers? Or other things that irritate you? We do this all the time, rid ourselves of the things that we label pests. It could be a run of stray cats living under our house. It could be rats. It could be a lot of things…my point is that we have a lot of opportunities in life to practice the indifference. How many times do we walk by the homeless and feel nothing? If they have the audacity to reach into our world and make a request, how do we respond? Most of the time, most of us, hurriedly pass by. Wishing for their existence to stop interfering in our great life. Indifferencing got us there.
So it occurred to me the other day, are there ever times when that indifferencing does not occur in my life? That hardened toughness is pierced and I am altered, different, and open?
There are. And it is painful. It is painful for me to obliterate the ants, rats, or other beings whose living of their lives interferes with my enjoyment of mine. It is hard to do it. I numb out, pretend the problem isn’t there. I push it away, shove it down. But sometimes, I am just really hyper present. I see the ants, the rats, the homeless and others who miss my granting of the grace of being.
What happens when I open instead of indifference myself into action?
For me the other day, I realized that when I stop before the indifference begins, I feel closer to the Divine. God appears in my life, I am there, evolving at a higher rate. I can see and feel what the ants might feel, the rats, the homeless and I am embarrassed by my own callouslessness with life…any life.
I felt for the first time that this place where I harden is the place where my work is. This place where I make the choice to go dark and tough, the place where I edge God out. I am not available anymore. I am gone. Unreachable for connection of any kind…with anyone.
It is my willingness to stop the habit of indifferencing that gives me access to parts of myself and you that is more worthy of examination. It is the place where I am forever changed. I am evolved to a higher plateau of existence.
I must deal with my indifferencing in order to push myself into airing out those dark places of my soul. I see that it is this habit of indifferncing that has allowed the atrocities of our world to be committed over and over again. People indifferenced right into murder, rape, genocide.
Perhaps though we could all begin to work with ourselves and our own indifference? We could begin just by noticing its presence in our lives. The daily practice of indifferencing. How it shows up, where it lands, how it separates us, how we like it, how we don’t. Maybe if we all just watched ourselves indifference ourselves to death we might be motivated to make minute changes to the way we are, the way we behave, the way we love, like and live.
Maybe if we admit that we indifference ourselves that we also do it to others and we become siloed in our lives, unable to reach out, unable to connect, unable to love. None of us are free so long as anyone is in chains. I believe that. I really do. And while my life might not afford me the opportunity to lead a revolution, perhaps I can just notice my own indifferencing and become willing to see it and pray to begin to change it. Perhaps mine is a revolution of one.
For me, God shows up right there in the place where I stop, the moment before I eradicate whatever it is that I have found objectionable. Grace enters here but only if I stop and allow myself to be pulled closer to God. And I cannot ever be moved forward with indifference. It is always a backwards motion. Falling back into self, and away from all things holy. I can’t likely change your willingness to look at the indifferencing going on in your life, but I can mine. And so I will. Painful though it may be to see all the indifference I shed, the shade I throw, if I am willing to see it, perhaps one day I can change it. And so maybe just maybe change can begin with me.