“Wow! It snowed a foot last night!”
This is what I said when I woke up the other morning. We in the Sierras were blanketed by a huge snowstorm. Tahoe had record-breaking snowfall.
At first it was novel and pretty, but then when my husband and I tried using our cell phones for work, it wasn’t happening. Our cell phones only had one bar each, and we couldn’t even make calls. It was so frustrating.
Then our generator shut down because it needed oil. Thank our lucky stars we had a quart in our garage. But we were going to need more.
The entire county was out of power with no ETA for restoration. We walked up our road to see if the main roads were plowed. There were trees down everywhere, across the roads, in yards, and even over houses. It was a disaster!
We have four-wheel drive and decided to give it a go and see if we could make it out to a store or gas station to buy some oil for our generator and at the same time get better cell reception to do some work.
The snow was so deep and slippery (it had warmed up a little) that we didn’t make any headway on getting out from the spot where we had parked at the top of our driveway. (Our driveway is really steep, so this is “snow strategy.”)
By then, we were both super frustrated. I suggested we try our phones as “hot spots” where the truck was parked. For the next hour, we sat in the truck, warm and cozy (I had my seat heater on—I am so grateful for whoever invented seat heaters). The cell phone satellites aligned and our phones sorta worked—barely but enough to get the most important things done.
However, I still couldn’t call people or check the news or send pictures to friends and family about what was happening in my world or respond to them about what was happening in their world.
Today, I realized that I was doing something that causes much frustration and suffering. I was arguing with reality.
I learned about this concept when studying with Byron Katie. It is when you want your world to be different from what it is. A common thought I have when I’m arguing with reality is “It should be different.”
I wanted to be able to use my phone from the comfort of my house whenever. I wanted to have easy access to the Internet. I wanted to be able to drive to the store and get oil for the generator. None of these things was happening due to the big storm; with lots of snow, there’s no power and sketchy cell reception. The clincher was I thought it “should be” different. This is where the pain, suffering, and frustration begin, when we think it “should be” another way.
Arguing with reality can also show up as “You should be different.” For example, when I ride my bike sometimes, I start thinking, “I should be riding faster.” Another thought is “I should be able to do this thing better.”
Of course, I am committed to increasing my average mph on my bike or becoming more skillful in certain areas of my life. The problem is when you use “I should be different, better, faster” as a way to beat yourself up or make yourself wrong. It has a hopelessness to it or an underlying belief of “See, you aren’t good enough.”
When do you argue with reality?
Notice when you are thinking you should be a different way or some part of your life should be a different way. How can you bring peace to that situation and moment?
Most of the time, it is how I’m thinking about the situation that brings me suffering and frustration. I can then ask myself, “How can I bring peace to this frustrating moment? By simply not arguing with it? It just is. It is neither good nor bad and doesn’t mean anything about me. It just is.”
Once I became aware that I was arguing with reality, my frustration eased. I was able to be OK with no cell reception, to go with the flow. I could then ask myself, What’s the good in this situation? Hey, I get a few days of being unplugged. We have plenty of food. The generator is on, so we have heat and running hot and cold water. How would I love to spend my time in my cozy house with my favorite person—my husband?
There are so many things I can enjoy. One is just doing nothing or resting, or I could read a book or write this blog.
The road will eventually get plowed. We have a few more days of snow in the forecast. The power will eventually go back on. The snow will melt. For now, I can enjoy the snow and my home with no demands or interruptions from my phone or the Internet. I can survive without knowing what my friends and family are up to for a few days. I can walk to a gas station and get more oil.
The next time you feel frustrated about the way things are and you’re thinking it should be different, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I arguing with reality?
- What good can I see in the moment or situation?
- How can I find peace in this moment or situation?
FYI: As I finished writing this, the snowplow was plowing our road!