by Joe McKay
Here’s a spirit-exercise for us to work on.
Using a pencil (important), draw two boxes … one on the left side of a piece of lined 8.5×11 paper, and one on the right; each box 2-3 inches wide and the length of the page. Label the left box “bad stuff” (things / people / circumstances / events I feel strongly negative about. They may be recent or historical.) Label the right, “good stuff,” etc. (Use only every other line, so there is a blank line between each item on both sides.)
Most likely, the “stuff” you feel most strongly about in each category will occur to you early on in this exercise, but take your time and add to the boxes over the course of a day or two. Do not include people or things you do not feel strongly about one way or the other. You should end up with two lists that are strong opposites in terms of your feeling and judgment about them. Examples: Adolf Hitler, weeds, and indecisive people might be left-box hatreds, while Mother Theresa and flowers are right-side loves.
After you are satisfied that your boxes contain most of the things in life you abhor or adore, go over them one by one, and ask yourself why they are categorized as they are. Where do your strong judgments come from? … from your own personal experience or from what you’ve learned, read, etc.?? Might other people in the world see them differently?
Dwell on each item in both lists. This is not an easy or quick exercise. After the initial listing, you might work on it occasionally over the course of a week or so, meditating on your feelings.
When you are ready for the hard part of this exercise, erase the lines that separate the left and right boxes. Integrate your lists by sliding items from one side in between items from the other so that you end up with only one list. Erase the labels you wrote for each box and replace it with one label that describes all the items, using your own words, “_______________________”
One of the many morals of this exercise: when it comes to this beautiful, mysterious, wondrous, diverse, ever-changing, always-teaching-us life, never etch anything in stone…or ink!