Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Gnat in My Glass

Recently, I was having a glass of wine on a work night. I was already tired and emotionally drained from the day, so I started to feel the effects pretty quickly. I knew I was reaching the tipping point and should probably stop drinking. But I didn't WANT to. So I kept on, trying to finish the glass. And finally, when I was more than halfway done, I decided to just toss back the rest and go to bed. But as I raised my glass for that last time, I saw it. A gnat floating in my glass! Gross! But clearly I needed a more tangible sign that it was time to stop drinking.

Signs are all around us. Some are very deliberate and universally recognized--"Stop! Slow down! Dangerous curves ahead"...others are less literal, suggested...hints. They can be external, but very often we get internal signs too. Red flags, signals, behaviors...our internal voice, conscience, spirit, telling us the same things as those blatant external signs--"Stop! Slow down! Proceed with caution." There's something that needs to be put away. Something is going on that's happening way too fast, and our instincts are telling us to tap the brakes, but very often we pummel forward anyway. We rationalize, excuse and laugh off everything that tells us there is danger ahead. We know there are people, places and things in our lives that it’s time to cut our ties with and move on. And despite those things standing right in front of us, announcing with their presence or their actions (and sometimes actually SAYING out of their mouths!) "I'm no friend to you. I don't love you. I don't have your best interests at heart."; we still don't leave. We settle into "It's comfortable", "It's the way it has always been" and "It'll get better". The truth is though, it's about to get real uncomfortable, it's time to shake things up, and it isn't going to get better until we take inventory of who and what is in our lives and whether or not they're supposed to be there. Until we ask ourselves if what we are allowing in is in line with who we are, what we believe and what we want out of this life, things are only going to get worse, the signs are going to get bigger and the voice is going to scream louder--until finally, something happens that rocks us to the core and shakes us awake, and makes us wonder why the heck we didn't take the hint before the collateral damage had piled so high.

It can be an unfortunate part of the cycle of life--the out with the old--but it is important for us to purge things that we no longer need for our journey, so that we have room for new things that will serve us better in the next phase. While we can love those old things, and keep fond memories of what they taught us, we just can't keep everything or our loads would become too heavy to bear. So I'm working on learning to see the signs telling me to release the things that are no longer good for me, and embracing the signs that point me in the direction of all that is peace, love, joy and learning. No more pesky gnats in my glass ;).


GG said...

I have really struggled with this in my life over and over again and it's caused me to feel powerless when I look back and realize that I could have changed situations that weren't to my best interest and I chose not to because I was afraid. In those situations I would think to myself(not in the literal sense) "oh well, i'll just ignore the gnat and drink it anyway. it won't be so bad. i'm used to swallowing gnats in order to get the brief, immediate gratification of the last drop of sweet wine." I love the analogy.

Peace Love and Pretty Things said...

Yeah, it's funny how we receive these types of messages...who knew the gnat would end up being so symbolic. It's hard to look back and know that we could've done things differently, but the best we can do is shake off the regrets, learn from what we can now see with 20/20 vision in hindsight, and try not to make similar mistakes in the future. Thank goodness for hindsight!

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