A couple days ago, my friend Tony was talking to me about the Planet Earth series (phenomenal, by the way): “There were these fuzzy, adorable gooselings, and then all of a sudden, there was this fox! And I was like, ‘Awesome! I love foxes!’ But then she swooped down and scooped up a mouthful of those fuzzy baby geese — and you could see the mama fox’s cute little pups waiting to be fed . . . I was so torn between feeling bad for the little gooselings — but the baby foxes needed to eat . . .”
As a result of this story, I’ve been inspired to talk about the “Nothing has meaning but the one you give it” principle today.
Here’s what it means: It is in the nature of how things simply are for nothing to mean ANYTHING until we assign them a meaning. Things just are. It’s the proverbial glass half-filled with water — it’s just there, and we, as conscious human beings, choose to see the glass as half full or empty.
I see this in animals all the time. Nothing they do should ever be taken personally (unless it is affection, in which case I think it can be argued that they are experiencing an almost-humanlike emotion.) This afternoon, Ernie, my first guinea pig, who is usually a delight — happy and energetic, very athletic, friendly — was feeling a bit moody. I was petting him, obviously trying to show him affection, and my fingers might have gotten too close to his chin (which he dislikes), so he tried to snap at me.
Now, generally speaking, Ernie doesn’t bite. Occasionally, he will give warning nips, which never hurt, because he barely even touches you. It’s simply in his body language.
When I then picked up his food bowl, which was why I was there petting him in the first place, he lunged at me. Again, there was no collateral damage done to my hand, but I was VERY put off by his behavior.
If, however, I turn it around and think about it from Ernie’s perspective, I would see this: Mommy is petting me as usual, but she is too close to my chin. Hey! Back off. I don’t like that.
I’m feeling already agitated, and now she is taking my food bowl! Hey! That’s mine!
. . . The point is, you can’t take too personally a point of view that is different and in conflict with yours, because it’s never about you. It’s about whatever it’s about — an annoyed guinea pig expressing dominance, a frustrated person who’s been having a bad day, even a business that has lost too much from what it used to think was an okay business practice.
Whatever you find frustrating has a reason behind it — the reason is not the meaning, but it is the fuel behind what is. And I find that often it can be so easy to get caught up in our own interpretations of things that we cause ourselves a lot of undue strife.
Another way to say it is like this: I had a traumatic brain injury in 2003. The reason is due to the malformation that was in my artery and veins in the one spot in my brain. Do I know why I of all people am the one that happened to have had this malformation? It was completely random (they aren’t genetic); the important fact is that I had it.
I can either get angry at what happened and live in bitterness and give up on my own recovery, or I can accept that it happened and live in the peace of knowing that this incident doesn’t define my identity. I’ve been in both places, and the latter sings a prettier melody.
When you begin to understand the story behind something that doesn’t seem optimal, you then are set free to be able to forgive it and move on. Only you can paint the picture of what moving forward looks like. So how does it look?
To our healing,