I work with a spirited millennial — I’ll call her Sky. She’s blessed with a creative mind big like the sky, with new ideas circulating as quickly as cloud formations.
I love her for lots of reasons, but especially because she regularly lets her Piscean nature out for a walkabout. That is to say, she cries when she is happy or sad or simply because it is Tuesday.
We work together in a corporate setting, performing work we both enjoy. Even so, there are days when deadlines push out the worst in some, and create a spark of drama here and there.
Sky was recently sharing such an incident with me. She was frustrated about comments a co-worker had made in questioning her team’s ability to meet important deadlines. In actuality, the project was on track, the paper work proved it, and the only problem was with the co-worker’s perception. In other words, there was no real problem and engaging in a battle with a co-worker was not necessary or productive.
Noting this, I gave her a bit of loosely-translated Buddhist advice. I said, “Walk away from the spectacle.”
She looked at me curiously. I went on to explain how there are times in life when we must detach, we must walk away from spectacles, dramas that aren’t really important and won’t get us anywhere.
Easier said than done. Let’s face it, drama makes us feel alive, righteous, purposeful, right?
But the shadow side of drama–and participation in spectacles—is that it deplete our own precious energy. When we engage in spectacles or spectacle watching, we deprive ourselves of the oxygen or fuel we need to get where we want to go.
The Three P’s
So when we worry too much about another employee who is talking smack about us or our project, when we get too caught up in the righteousness of fixing our partner’s diet or our friend’s latest love life disaster, we are losing our own focus. We’re losing our perspective, our peacefulness, our power. When we attach to a spectacle we are conversely detaching from our own life’s course.
The Shape of Spectacles
Spectacles come in all shapes and sizes. They could be other people’s dramas or the stories you’re attached to, the ones you tell yourself that aren’t healthy or true–or no longer relevant. (Ex. This happened because of my childhood. ) When you hear yourself repeating a story over and over, or finding yourself overly righteous about an outcome (it shouldn’t have happened this way), chances are you are attached to a spectacle.
So check your gauge because you’re probably leaking air.
Walking away from spectacles becomes a conscious decision, and it might look like a baby’s step, made with one wobbly foot forward and then another one back.
I’ll admit I’m a little attached to a spectacle right now. It’s called the presidential race. In my book, it’s a first class spectacle, a freak side show, all around.
I keep walking away, but it’s hard not to step into the muck when the s*hit (and the stakes) is so high, and when the spectacle is broadcast 24 x 7.
So I’m working it like this: I’ll speak my conscience, vote it too, and work very hard not to judge candidates, media and others who have opinions that differ from mine. I know I need my energy to stand up for what I believe in, to create a more tolerant world, and being attached to an ugly political spectacle distracts me from this mission.
If I become too angry and self-righteous, I become part of the spectacle, and I call forth that same angry, righteous energy within me and others. Better that I prioritize my peacefulness while I work and advocate for change.
But it ain’t easy, folks. Still, while I sometimes struggle, I might be getting through to others. I overheard one of my male co-workers last week remark, ‘I just walked away from a spectacle.’
That’s when I knew my smart millennial friend had shared my lesson.
If you’re interested in more thoughts on integrity, compassion and grace–if you’re looking for exploratory questions to unearth pieces of your soul, check out my book, Tao Flashes. Or visit me at http://www.facebook.com/taoflashes or on twitter @taoflashes.