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Its a Habit


Do you sometimes have the feeling that you're running into the same obstacles over and over again? Many of my conflicts have the same feel to them, like "Hey, I think I've been here before," but I can't figure out how I wound up in the same place. The situation is different, but the conflict feels the same.

I first read this poem in "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche. When I "Googled" it, I found fourteen pages of links. It's clearly a favorite with many people; I know it speaks volumes to me.

"Autobiography in Five Chapters"
1) I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost . . . I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

2) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I'm in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

3) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in . . . it's a habit
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

4) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I walk around it

5) I walk down another street.

Does this feel familiar? I am ready to learn that lesson! I'm sure that I've changed. I can see that hole coming a mile away. This time it will be different. I still end up falling in. Tired, sad and angry, I drag myself up once again. What was I supposed to learn here? I thought I learned that the last time.

Some conflicts seem to take years to unravel, but if we stay tuned, and our purpose is to look with curiosity and awareness, we will find the moment when we can step around the hole.

As I write, thinking about a recent stumble of my own, I am smiling a bit. From a distance, I watch myself drop into the hole - one I know well - and it's kind of funny. And perhaps that is the way out - to laugh more often, to "love our mistakes," as my friend says. I've heard it said that eventually we will laugh at all our mistakes - the trick is to laugh sooner. When I can laugh as I climb out of the hole, I'm on my way to finding the route around it, or better yet, that alternate street.

2005 Judy Ringer, Power & Presence Training

About the Author: Judy Ringer is Founder of Power & Presence Training, specializing in unique workshops on conflict, communication, and creating a more positive work environment. Judy is also a black belt in aikido, and is writing her first book on the connection between aikido, conflict, and living a more purposeful life. To sign up for more free tips and articles like these, visit http://www.JudyRinger.com

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