Day 117 (Day 13) of The Middle Path Makeover – Defining Emergency

Please read along, if you are so inclined. I promise to eventually make my point.

Emergency. As defined in

[ih-mur-juhn-see] Show IPA
noun, plural -cies, adjective
1. a sudden, urgent, usually unexpected occurrence or occasion requiring immediate action.
2. a state, esp. of need for help or relief, created by some unexpected event: a weather emergency; a financial emergency.
3. granted, used, or for use in an emergency: an emergency leave; emergency lights.

Alright, enough with the formalities. I think you know where I’m headed here. While I’m quite clear on what an emergency is, I don’t see where it says that someone else’s emergency automatically becomes my emergency. I’m not always sure how to handle someone else’s “emergency” when I’ve got a fully planned agenda at work and I’m interrupted by someone who needs a favor “yesterday”. Seriously? I mean I do like being helpful, I really do. But yesterday is over.

Okay, maybe that’s not a very Zenful attitude. So how about a more Zenful approach? Meditation practice. I’ve got a fully planned agenda to watch my breath come and go without controlling it (anapanasati), or just sit and be still and present. Along comes my thoughts with an emergency interruption (car alarm outside goes off “Will somebody shut that off, I’m meditating here!” followed by an itch on my big toe “Wow, I hope that’s a bug bite and not Athlete’s foot from the gym!”). I’m pretty sure that what I’m doing now is just as valuable (perhaps more?) than the noisy thoughts thinking they are important enough to interrupt. So what gives? I think there must be a very good reason. Here’s a few good reasons I came up with:

1. Giving in brings yet another chance to prove what a pushover I am and harbor some resentment towards the Interrupter whilst practicing martyrdom like I wear the crown. Yeah, I said whilst. What?!!
2. Being stubborn brings another opportunity to prove that nothing could possibly be more important than what I’m doing right now. Although someone/something else’s emergency is just getting louder and more looming, in the end, I’m right. And that’s what matters most.
3. Recognizing and addressing the emergency for what it is allows me to practice focused, swift resolution. Then I get to let it go with gentle, loving kindness.

So I think number 3 is the way to go (for me anyway). There’s probably a fourth or fifth option out there – if you can think of it, let me know! In the meantime, maybe try treating your next emergency as a chance to be empathetic and kind.


Leah Joy, The Zenful Blogger

3 thoughts on “Day 117 (Day 13) of The Middle Path Makeover – Defining Emergency

  1. Great point – life throws all kinds of obstacles in our way. Learning to take the high road and accept and learn from what is given to you is so much more constructive than fighting it! On a related topic related to willpower and focus, I read an article recently about procrastination, and how some theorize that there are many selves within us that argue against our willpower to complete tasks. Imagine that meditation and focusing on being present helps strengthen willpower to complete the tasks we want to do and know we should do when that little voice says it would be much nicer to just sit on the couch in your jammies. 🙂 Hmmm…I might have to try that. Thought you might enjoy.

    • Great article (and so true!) Christina. Thanks for sharing. It’s funny that even though most of us know how bad procrastination is for us, we do it anyway. Here’s to proactively embracing change! 🙂

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