Should I Go or Should I Stay Now? 

BY Paul C Pritchard
Should I Go or Should I Stay Now? 
Action and Resilience, Our Faithful Friends

I am often caught between two very strong impulses: to rise to a challenge and really learn and grow or just get the hell out of there and run. Both impulses can be persuasive and that can trigger a mini-war in my head. Should I go or should I stay now? 

Can we talk frankly? Can we cut the BS? Can we acknowledge that sometimes the spiritual whitewashing of every situation can often be a strategy for avoidance? Sometimes it fuels indecision which can lead to procrastination. Then I say to myself. “Trust, this too will pass!” When what I really need to do is take action. Stay or go they are both good choices in certain situations. 

Do you ask yourself this question and consider the pros and cons? Or do you react and jump with both eyes tightly shut hoping for the very best? What’s your usual way of handling chaos or challenges? Maybe it’s time to bring some awareness to how you react and make a solid, soul-rewarding decision. 

There’s a wonderful story that Gangaji, a spiritual teacher and devotee of Papaji, shares from time to time. It’s short and effective. She’s an engaging storyteller and the simplicity and profundity have never left me. I will paraphrase it here:

Gangagi tells of how Papaji was giving a press conference. The questions were given to him in advance. He decided to ask his closest devotees one of the questions, by way of a teaching. Gangaji was one of the devotees. 

The Question: I live over a mechanic/autobody workshop in Mumbai. It’s open 24/7. The noise never stops. How do I practice my meditation?

One of the devotees considers this and answers thus: “He should accept and embrace the noise and the chaos. As a good meditator, he can transcend the noise and simply focus within.” Papaji rolls his eyes. 

The next devotee a little tentative says: “If the meditation is sincere and the mind is empty then all distraction will dissolve.” Papaji rolls his eyes. 

Alt text hereSometimes, leaving is a perfectly valid and nurturing choice. Image: Tarik Haiga

The last devotee looks nervous and states: “The noise and the chaos are not separate to the meditator. When he realises that he is one with the noise the sounds will become like music.” Papaji rolls his eyes. 

All the devotees look to Papaji as he repeats the question before answering. “I live over a mechanic/autobody workshop in Mumbai. It’s open 24/7. The noise never stops. How do I practice my meditation?” Papaji smiles broadly. “The answer is simple. Just move house!” 

A fear of the unknown keeps a lot of people from leaving bad situations. – Kathie Lee Gifford

I often think about this story when I am lost in my mind creating conundrums and overcomplicating stuff. I don’t always have to endure, sacrifice and play the martyr. I can just move, move on. And to me, this is also a practice of self-resilience. A knowing of which battles to choose. A clue for me is when my mind is so busy trying to find solutions, it serves me to shift my awareness to my nervous system. When I commit to keeping my nervous system peaceful I am generally in an aligned flow.

What the most successful people have in common is a tolerance for discomfort… Sometimes we have to do tough things and feel our way through tough situations, and we have to feel tough emotions. Resilience is more available to people curious about their own line of thinking and behaving – Brené Brown.

And yet there are times when I know that I have to stay and ‘fight’. I must endure. I must persevere. Not because I want to enter the masochistic world of self-harm or worse, self-punishment. But because I recognise that I have been in this situation at least once before. If I don’t look at the behaviour in both creating the scenario, and also dealing with the repercussions, it will probably keep haunting me. 

Again, tuning into my nervous system helps me make the right decision. If I choose to walk away and it’s the right decision it feels clean, like a flash of magnesium burning leaving no ash. No residue. If I choose to stay and it’s the wrong decision it feels continually bothersome. My mind is still busy grappling with solutions and estimating outcomes. It’s a slow burn, black and sooty. 

Alt text hereSometimes I need to stay. To feel the fear and do it anyway. Image: Derek Owens
When I decide to stay and consciously address this recurring ‘drama’ that is creating unease in my body and it’s the right decision, it feels both expansive and uneasy. There’s a contradiction in my belly and or throat. I have a sense that it might not be easy. It might even hurt like hell. But there’s also a feeling of relief that it will be the last time. A layer will be peeled away. I might even be somewhat unwilling. Moving slowly, even dragging my feet. Yet, I am willingly moving towards the enquiry to be free of it. It’s a bitter-sweet YES! 

You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place like, you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way again. – Azar Nafisi

There’s a recognition that a part of me will grow, evolve and reach a maturing that I would not have acquired had I fled. The ego does not like change. That’s its job. To keep me in a perceived sense of safety. But it is a lie. The ego is often frightened. It does not like the unknown. It is at home in lazy uncomfortableness. The ego is a short-sighted, quick-fix quack. And it costs way too much. 

We must reconcile the short term pain for the long term gain. I picture myself on the ascent of a mountain. The track forever moving up and around the mountain. And sometimes I am in the shrubs, no sunlight, feeling unsettled and longing to be on the sunlit side of the mountain. If I keep going I will get there. I just have to keep going. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time. Perhaps one minute at a time or one breath at a time.

Accept this moment as if you had chosen it. – Eckhart Tolle

I tell myself over and over again that I am in charge of this moment and this moment and this moment. This can map my immediate future which can only exist in the Now. As Emily Dickenson so beautifully wrote, ‘Forever is composed of Nows.’ Perhaps this is the true cultivation of resilience, to rest in the moment – to accept the moment in its entirety. To surrender to the meeting of the moment with no mind. To even take pleasure in the miracle of it. No one in the history of this whole world is experiencing the same ‘now’ as you are. That can be a heart-bursting thought. Infinite animate and inanimate objects all fused in multitudinous nows. That brings me joy: I am entirely unique and I am not alone. 

Joy collected over time fuels resilience. – Brené Brown

~

Beloveds,

We’d love to hear of how you navigate the bittersweet trials and tribulations of spiritual growth. What helps you that might help your fellow UPLIFT seekers.

We love you.

Paul and Team UPLIFT

BY Paul C Pritchard
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