11. Tactics

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Take things in stride

From a previous post:

A runner’s “stride” has two factors.  First is the distance between steps — from where the toe of one foot hits the ground on one step, to where the toe of the other foot hits the ground on the next step.  The second factor is the number of steps she or he takes per minute.  Ideally, both factors are constant, so that the runner maintains a steady speed.

Sometimes an obstacle or interruption may come up in the runner’s path, that he or she will step in or on unless some adjustments are made.  Could be a hole in the ground or a pile of doo-doo.  In this case, the runner may shorten or lengthen one step in order to avoid stepping on the thing, and correspondingly lengthen or shorten the next step, so that overall her or his speed doesn’t change.  This is “taking things in stride.”  One can do the same with the obstacles or interruptions of life.

The afternoon of Tuesday, June 12, became a comedy of “What else can possibly go wrong?”

My Medicaid had got cut off because they required proof of income, and the only proofs I thought I had weren’t acceptable.  I dreaded accessing their website because it’s impossible to navigate and never gives me enough information.  I dreaded phoning them, because the person’s voice is always so faint on the other end of the line, I can’t hear the person.  I found out that various centers are available where one can get in-person help.  I found one nearby.  They operate by appointment only.

So, to make that phone call, I went in the big plastic grocery bag where I keep about half my things, to the place where I normally keep my phone (off, to save battery).  It wasn’t there.

I had carelessly left it on top of the table earlier in the day, and a specific passerby took it.

So I had to go replace it, in order to make that phone call.

Online I found a T-Mobile store at Lombard and Light Streets, and in due course I went there.  They had a $75 phone on display, but the clerk told me it wasn’t in stock; that one was for display only.  He said the other store, at Harborplace, had it in stock.

Half a mile distant.  So I went there.  The manager said the $75 phone wasn’t in stock, but she could give me a special deal on a different one for $100.  So I took that.

By the time she finished what she had to do, it had become pretty urgent that I get back to the shelter, if I was to get a bottom bunk (preferred) or any bunk whatsoever — and not get turned away and have to shell out for a hotel room for the night.

Something else suddenly became more urgent, however:  I needed to sit down in the bathroom.

So I finished at the store, asked where was the nearest men’s room, go did the necessary there (very messy), and set my sights on a fast trip to the shelter.

When the strap on my plastic bag broke.

Fortunately, I had an identical bag rolled up in my backpack, and was able to put all my things into that.

And, as it happens, wound up getting a bottom bunk.

Hours later, though physically worn out, I found myself in high spirits — because I had taken things in stride.

Related:  Previous post, same title:  Take things in stride

Keep the thought, change the feeling

One may find one’s mind focused on an idea, person or situation, and one’s feelings toward that focus untoward.  The practical needs of the moment may mean one can’t just “get your mind off it,” but one can possibly choose more desirable feelings.

One possible option sometimes is “flipping.”  If I find I’ve just cursed someone, I can begin thinking and feeling the exact opposite, thinking, “God bless him,” and sending the person love, light and prayers.  Thus usually entails a lot of chagrin for the sin I committed to start with.

Other times, the change — sublimation — may take more time and effort.

Keep the feeling, change the thought

Feelings one may find objectionable — may not necessarily have to be so.  It is hard for me to discuss or name some of the feelings involved, since for most of my life I never voluntarily let myself feel them, and I have only lately become willing to manage these limbs of my soul.

Feeling mean, being mean; being or wanting to be “hard;” “getting your game face on;” being aggressive: these are some of the feelings in question.  To me, determination feels a lot like anger.  But these feelings have their God-given uses, when one faces hard physical exertion or has to overcome obstacles.  One like me, who wants to rise out of poverty, faces a ton of hard work and many obstacles to overcome.  So I’m coming to accept, even welcome such feelings — and when they come, set my mind on situations where they may be useful.  One example is to see myself climbing the ladder, up out from the pit of poverty, to the level ground of the social mainstream.  It’s hard, and it’s OK to feel hard.

A very common situation: untoward sexual lusts.  If one is in a presumptively exclusive relationship, lusts directed towards another need not be denied, repressed or sublimated, but instead merely redirected towards one’s partner.  For single women and men, attraction to an inappropriate person can be redirected towards one or more appropriate persons — even if the object of one’s fantasy can only be purely imaginary.

Soul farts

It took me years to accept that these do, in fact, occur, and that they are what they are.

Unpleasant feelings may come out of nowhere, not in response to any event, and hang on for minutes or hours, unable to be sublimated.

Just as the physical body produces various wastes, including gaseous farts; it stands to reason that the soul also produces spiritual (emotional) wastes, including farts of its own.

One handles a soul fart the same as a bodily fart: just let it go, though the “smell” may inescapably abide for a while.

In the midst of a soul fart, it’s essential to know that this has no rational basis and is not in response to any event.  One needs to step back from one’s feelings — put in the clutch, so to speak — and determine not to take anything too seriously, anything anyone says, anything that may happen.  Hold off on any major decisions until after the gas passes, when one will have better judgment.

The Itch

The most troublesome soul fart for me has been what I call “the Itch:” the desire for turmoil, the desire to find (or create) trouble, to be angry, even to possibly hurt others, and so on.  I am coming more and more to accept it as a soul fart, and to stop beating myself up just because it happens.  The chapter “About organized religion” will deal at length with a man who has an especially bad case of it; the possible karmic bases; and what he must do to be free.

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