From guest Amie Chilson:
This morning I sat on the Ventura boardwalk curb with my feet in the sand, journal on my lap, and watched surfers glide on baby waves in the beautiful Pacific Ocean. I needed to write, needed to cry, and desperately needed to release my pent-up anger and frustration that I’d been carrying for the last two weeks.
Fresh were the wounds of my recent move, where my professional moving company took negligent and scandalous care of our belongings by overcharging, classic bait n switch, “losing” irreplaceable memorabilia, damaging and destroying 75% of our possessions, and downright stealing certain things, one of which was our $450 Stainless Steel Sonoma BBQ Grill. The fight I would have to take to them for vindication required exhausting time and money; neither of which I had extra to donate at the moment as I got back on my feet in a new city.
I’d been robbed six times in the past at varying degrees, and every time that gut-wrenching feeling of violation is like taking a punch to the stomach. It hurts a lot and will knock the wind out of ya. As I pondered the meaning of abundance and being able to replace many of the belongings someday, the hate welled up and toppled over my eyelids in the form of tears at the feeling of helplessness. Bad people had planned to take advantage of me, and they continue doing so to others. I wanted to punish them.
At my side was a book I’d grabbed to bring with me to the beach for post-run meditation. When I had thrown it in the car with my running gear and journal, it hadn’t crossed my mind why that exact book ended up with me at the beach; it had not been a conscious decision. Now I wiped the tears from my eyes, focused on it and gasped. Sitting next to me was Viktor Frankl’s, “Man’s Search For Meaning”, a tattered and yellowing paperback copy that had altered the way I viewed life, purpose and suffering.
Frankl was a Jewish Author-Psychiatrist who endured the Nazi death camps during World War II. He watched all his possessions, including life’s work manuscript, stripped from him, and his entire family and wife, excepting his sister, perish in the camps and sent to the gas ovens. Through this life-changing account of absolute injustice, hunger and cruelty, he volunteers himself as his own experiment to examine suffering and the true meaning of existence. He boils life down to the very essence, and while not even having control of his own naked and starving body, he still is responsible for the thoughts he thinks and how he chooses to perceive life; Exist with hate, apathy and anger for the horrific misery he and his family/friends and Jewish people undergo, or find meaning in what most perceived as senseless suffering.
At that moment I started laughing on the beach, which caused nearby dosing homeless guys to pick up their heads and give me a half glance. I couldn’t have scripted better irony than this! Here I was, a blessed woman in my prime, my brand new house minutes from beautiful beaches and living a charmed life; I was crying over my lost barbeque when courageous people like Viktor Frankl had endured such suffering! As I gazed at his face on the book I could hear his words to me, “Let it go, Amie,” and I agreed with him.
One of my favorite spiritual leaders is Lester Levenson, and he said, “Peace is non resistance, complete acceptance, identification with the all, with everyone, everything.” I had been resisting like a crazy woman and hurting myself in the meanwhile, and what came with it was more negativity, tension and bad news. We all know what you resist persists…and I was so ready to live in peace.
Was it possible I set up this lesson for myself so I could learn to let go, release, and not be attached to anything? My beliefs take me down the road of reincarnation and pre-ordaining (not pre-destination, as free will is sacred) opportunities and signs along the way in life to evolve as a human being through the contrast of good and bad experiences. If so, ouch! My soul must be a little dense learning and re-learning through remedial courses this time around…
Buddha says, “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” My un-checked emotions had taken me over and I lost awareness of how it affected everything I was doing and being.
It caused me to contemplate the last 24 months of my whirlwind life, and as I did so I realized I had already let go of so many things: unhealthy friendships, poor business relationships, two companies of which I poured my lifeblood into, a network that took me 10 years to build, credit/cash, and family members who passed away. Letting go = freedom. Attachments and aversions = pain. What do I want to feel? Like Frankl learned in the Nazi concentration camps… your mind is the only place you can find freedom, it is not in our external situations.
“Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” -- Viktor Frankl
With the sun on my face and healing seabreeze in the air, every wave the surfers caught and rode, a little more of my anger was released with each and went out with the tide. I choose to be free.
Visionary. Teacher. Fearless Leader.