Only if there is a soul can there be such a thing as being tested. Otherwise it is all just random occurrence and the outcome is really irrelevant. I don’t know what interpretation of the supreme force, if any that mankind has conjured, is correct. But, I will concede that there must be a soul, because I feel it inside of me. So, given that I personally believe there is a soul and a force outside of it interacting with it, then it would follow that I believe testing does exist.
Tonight I was tested. Something unexpected happened that caught me completely off guard and my instantaneous reaction was to interpret it as deeply painful. The event wasn’t aimed at me, but I was caught in its vortex. It involved a picture. I won’t go into detail about the picture, but let me just say that on its surface it told a story that was in deep conflict with what I had envisioned and hoped the truth to be. Herein lies the problem, not with just what happened tonight, but in our ability to fill in blanks with only the worst possible conclusions when we make an observation about anything.
Great movies and TV shows often show a point of view of an event that, given the camera angles and perspective, encourage you into vilifying a character. Only after our judgment is formed and solidified do we find out the real reason our newly minted villain was holding people hostage at gunpoint is because if they didn’t, their 4 year old daughter will be killed. When we have the whole picture, then and only then does information (truth) overcome preconception, and unilaterally we are able to express empathy. But what if we would not allow ourselves to have knee jerk reactions to our perceptions (which are often misconceptions), and press pause to think about all the possible reasons a thing might appear to be a certain way? Especially when it is in fact not that way we perceived it to be at all! This is what happened tonight to me, and here were sequential events that followed:
1. A picture was posted on social media that if interpreted a certain way would have caused me deep pain.
2. I immediately hit pause on my brain and disallowed myself from drawing the worst possible conclusion and thought, “Could there be an explanation for this picture that is not what I perceive it to be?” Yes.
3. I then wondered, “Even if it was my worst interpretation, would it change my personal truth about how I felt about that person?” No.
4. “Was the universe using this to test if my truths were my own and completely independent of other people’s truths?” Probably.
5. “Did I pass?” I think so.
As it turned out, something happened within a minute or two of step 5 that gave me information directly from the person in the photograph to correct my viewpoint. In that moment, all potential angst that was cresting the dam was converted to understanding, compassion and relief. Thankfully, In the test leading up to the resolution, the angst conversion was already happening. Admittedly it was happening a lot slower, but by not allowing myself to accept a false conclusion I was spared a lot of unnecessary anxiety. Or, at least I was spared an unnecessary magnitude of anxiety.
What I hope for myself as I grow and hopefully gain wisdom and emotional stamina in the future, is that I can avoid the freak out altogether (and its associated anxiety), and always accept that there IS always more information about any situation than my shortsighted and limited perspective has at hand. I also hope to fully adopt the axiom that things are almost certainly never what they initially seem to be.
Regarding tonight’s test… did I pass? Would you have?