In the car on the way to the mall. An awakening.
When you know how to listen, everybody is your guru.
This takes discipline, and a willingness to let go of habitual reactions. Also, you have to be ready for that guru to show up uncomfortably close to home.
I’m remembering a time many years ago. I was tense and headstrong, buckling my seatbelt and gripping the steering wheel with my teeth clenched against the day, frantic with hurry. My daughter (all of thirteen at the time) sat in the passenger seat. We were doing last-minute shopping before her departure for boarding school. We’d been snapping at each other all morning.
When we got in the car, in an uncharacteristic moment of equanimity, she said to me quietly, “Mom. You’re confusing ‘a lot to do’ with ‘no time.’ We actually have plenty of time.”
Something in her voice came from outside the bickering we’d been engaged in. I’ll never forget it.
I could just as easily have barked back a lot of adult one-upmanship in reaction to her comment — but I decided to let it in, to really listen to what she was saying. And it was true. We had plenty of time. The world was spacious. Everything was fine.
Very often, we resist these moments of truth because they come to us from people way too close to us, people who don’t match the guru label. I’m remembering a friend of mine who had a serious problem with alcohol. His mother was in a drunken stupor herself (this was not unusual) when she told him, “You gotta quit drinking, son.” Her state at the time didn’t make what she said any less true.
It takes strong determination and courage to resist reacting in the moment and let this kind of stuff in. But it’s possible, and it’s actually crucial if we’re serious about untying the ‘stress’ knots in our lives and waking up to what is.
So…watch for your guru in unexpected places. It could be the guy who cuts you off in traffic, forcing you to slow down. Or your grumpy spouse, asking you in a hidden way to wake up to the relationship.
Or your own face in the mirror, needing compassion.
If you know how to listen, everybody is your guru.