Doing more of that which brings joy and human connection into my life is part of the game I have created for myself called ‘Playing BIG’. Coming from that context I booked a table-tennis table at the sports centre for 9:30 am today. I was so excited at the thought, picture, of my sons and I playing table-tennis together on a proper table and in a room with lots of space to move around freely – as opposed to playing table-tennis in our lounge.
This morning I rang my son at 8:30 to let him know that I’d pick him up from his friends at 9:15. And that is exactly what I did. My son appeared to be in good spirits and I took that to mean that all was fine and I could expect a great experience: playing table-tennis with my son who enjoys playing table-tennis! We got there, I paid £5 and headed to the table-tennis table. When we got there delight was present for me: single table set-out in a large room (lots of space) just for us. This is great and this is going to be great – that is the conversation that I was having with myself.
We got playing. First my son said that he had to hit the ball harder (than home) – he occurred as being surprised and put out by this. After practicing for five minutes or so he told me he wanted to play a game. “Fine, let’s play a game” was my response. When we got playing he kept asking me if I was playing my best and I kept telling him “Yes”. He was not happy with this – he seemed to be convinced that I was taking it easy on him. What was happening in my world: “How the heck do you expect me to play better given that you cannot cope with the level that I am playing at right now? And yes, I am playing the best that I can play given the circumstances. Quit asking the same stupid question and just focus on playing!” On the outside I was calm because whilst i was getting activated by what occurred as a ‘poor attitude’ on my son’s part, I was in control and able to transcend i.
I won the first game – no surprise, no significance to it. We started playing the second game. Now the room was too hot for my son – he kept saying how hot it was. I offered to open the double doors – he refused. Then he kept telling me he was thirsty and so I offered him money so that he could go and get a drink – he declined. All the time I kept calm and simply played table-tennis when there was table-tennis to play. It soon became obvious to me that the table-tennis that we were playing did not match the ‘table-tennis schema’ that my son had in his head and so he did not want to play table-tennis. Actually, there was no genius on my part – he kept repeating that he was bored. At 10am – half an hour in reality yet an eternity in my experience I put a stop to it. I simply said that I could see that the situation was not working for my son and so we should go home.d
What was there for me? What was happening underneath the surface? I noticed that I was disappointed and i (my automatic machinery) was disappointed and angry: i kept wanting to blame and criticise my son; i felt betrayed; i felt that it’s time had been wasted; i did not approve of people who quit especially when that person is my son – i was brought up to finish whatever it started or it got punished big time.
Yet, I stayed calm and did not let i run me like it usually does. How did that come about? I was present to the fact that reality was perfectly OK (just great the way it is and the way it is not) and i noticed that the disappointment was a natural result of how i works. i had jumped into the future and mapped out how it would be (a great game of table-tennis and a great bonding exercise with my son). And when reality was reality and it did not match up with what i had expected then i had got upset. I could see that i had created and was continuing to create my disappointment. When I got this I owned that i was creating this disappointment and not my son. I noticed that I soon as I got that and owned my disappointment and let it be without resisting it, it vanished. And I was left with everything is OK – just the way it is and the way it is not – and that set me free to get on with what I needed to do this morning in complete peace!
How about you? Are you owning your disappointment and thus setting yourself free?