Monday, September 14, 2009

The Power of Neutral

"Put it in Neutral."

I think it's a term I've heard The Boyfriend use.

Sometimes you have to put your brain in Neutral. Sometimes you're ready to slam it into fourth gear and run over somebody. But instead of doing that — or instead of throwing it into Reverse and backing over the body repeatedly — what we really should do is just slide it on over to Neutral.

Sit a spell.

Rest a bit.

Don't react.

Seems we're always reacting, slamming on the brakes, speeding up, chasing some folks down, and flipping others off out our windows. Everyone is pissing us off, hurting our feelings, irritating us, asking us too much, doing too little, saying too much or not enough, or saying the wrong thing, or the right thing in the wrong tone. My lord, we're all a bunch of bumper cars. Without bumpers.

Sometimes we need to just shift on over to Neutral. Go ahead and watch the other cars bolt around. Let them crash and careen around while we just sit by and watch the chaos. It's much better to sit and watch from the outside than to participate in the cacophony.

That stuff is exhausting.

Besides, what one person says in the heat in the moment would surely not be repeated a few minutes or hours later. Why react to it? And whatever event seems tragic and insurmountable to you today will merely be a fond memory a few years down the road. Oftentimes it's those moments of which you're the most proud.

It's the overcoming of the obstacles, not never-having them.

It's the triumphing over difficulties, not letting them bury you.

And so I shift my mind into Neutral more and more. Reacting, defending, getting my word or my sense of injustice out there into the cosmos just isn't as important anymore. I see how it is. I can kick and scream and yell and it won't change a damn thing.

I'm in it.

I'm in this screwed up traffic jam of life, and I can't get off. My exit isn't coming for a while, so far as I can tell. So either I sit here and wait patiently to see what comes next, or I lean on my horn and jam my arm out the window with my middle finger flying while I press the gas and tail gait every asshole who doesn't get out of my way. Or I just sit in Neutral and wait for the way to clear.

I used to think Buddhists didn't care.

I used to worry that equanimity was apathy.

But it's not that. It's a patience full of faith.

I have faith that this is all temporary. I have faith in my ability to cope with life and change. I have faith in the greater wisdom that will be clear to me when I look back on the times I struggled.

I can be patient.

I can park it in Neutral.

I am not going spend my life in a permanent state of road rage.

You can call me passive. But I know a secret: My stillness is the most powerful force of all.


  1. I need to do this, thanks for the reminder!!

  2. This makes me think of this:

    "...We pause when agitated or doubtful and ask for the right thought or action." Alcoholics Anonymous, page 87

    It's apt.

  3. Thank you for the reminder. I feel like I need to file this post away somewhere.

  4. Very true that.
    Besides... being still & watching without absorbing, when others are losing their minds is incredibly entertaining.

    Oh & If we could harness road rage we'd have fuel for eons.

  5. and that is the best gift of it all - the ability to shift in the crisis of the storm

  6. I'm with LaFang it's hilarious sometimes to see just how out of hand people can get.... don't become one of them that's what I say!!!
    I had a friend once tell me she couldn't get excited about some drama or other at work and I still smile at that comment to this day.
    Thanks for this post... awesome!!!

  7. Boy, do I have someone who needs to read this.

    Also I was thinking that there is a danger of shifting back into gear at the right time so avoid the clanking grinding noise.

    Good write. Per usual.

  8. Buddhists do care but they have patience and will wait anything out. Peace, howie

  9. "It's a patience full of faith."

    You got it, girl. Truer words were never

  10. this is so true!! i find that i like myself more when i'm not racing around like a maniac. i just "put it in neutral" and watch everyone else make fools of themselves and overreact

  11. I never thought about it that way, but that definitely makes sense. The next time I feel my temper starting to take control, I'm just going to say, "Nuh-uh Steph, pop that sucker in neutral!" [recent blog posts not withstanding lol] Excellent advice, thanks for writing this :)

  12. Wow. Where were you Friday when I needed this?? Seriously, I was all in a tizzy over kids and step-kids and really I should have just put it in neutral.

  13. One simple saying saved my life at a time when I was really confused and up to my armpits in angst and drama...

    "Don't just DO something; SIT there!"

    Inaction isn't necessarily passive and often it's the most loving thing you can "not" do.

  14. Hi Mandy,

    Wow...this is priceless.
    You rock & thank you for


  15. I really needed this today... thank you!!! ^_^

  16. I am very comfortable staying in neutral now-a-days. The fighting, carrying on, etc just isn't worth the aggravation, you know?

  17. Sometimes God calms the storm. At other times, he calms the sailor. And sometimes he makes us swim.


  18. If only I didn't have mad road rage though..

  19. I love this post. Despite how it may look outwardly, achieving this level of calmness takes work. But it's worth it.

    Like when you yell at other drivers, who is the only person who suffers? What benefit is there to always be waiting for someone to wrong you? It's tiresome, really.

  20. Clever Driving Metaphor. I spent 6 month in neutral. You have to be careful not to stall.

  21. Godot!!! Awesome...

    This was a great post as usual.

  22. What a great reminder!
    I need this good message, Thank you dear!! ~xo*

  23. Yeah yeah, nice drive along the high road. I'm there with you giving you a friendly wave as we pass each other. However, don't you just want to punch somebody in the gut once in awhile?

  24. I like your concept Mandy ,nice post.

    This is a interesting link that relates well.

    "A fallen flower
    Returning to the branch?
    It was a butterfly"

    "haiku" Moritake


    Here is the link again to traffic waves that works , :)
    I hope

  26. I've always been a fan of getting up to 120mph or so, and then slamming the whole bitch into reverse.

  27. Oooh! Bumpers! That's what I need!

  28. I am curious as to what you would look like screaming out of a cars window while flipping the bird.
    Hot! :P

  29. Wise words...well put. Duly noted. Thank you for this piece. Enjoy the stillness.

  30. But... but... *sigh* *grumble*
    I know, I know, I know- but where's the line between neutral and hitting the thief on the head with your umbrella with great awareness and compassion?

  31. I used to feel like the people around me who accepted things as they were and let things go easily were lazy and apathetic. I felt like unless you are constantly raging against something, or pissed off by something, you're giving up and letting the world win.

    Thus the name of my blog, Steam Me Up, Kid. Get me mad. I want to rage.

    I'm not as angry anymore. Maybe I need a new blog name.

  32. I am rethinking this. I think you are not always in Neutral. I see you sometimes reacting like a lamberti , maybe with some Duct tape on the bumper :)

  33. Yep, I can totally relate...that sounds like me on the road...not really the road of life, just the expressway... dumbasses...hahahaha...

    But fear not, I did not miss out on the message delivered in this post, which I might add you delivered very well!

  34. Where is Mandy???? I'm not used to her not blogging everything okay? Does anyone know if she's okay???? I'm just worried...

  35. She seems very gentle and tender sometimes.

    Her fans really do like her, care about her .
    I like tender power , :)

  36. How do we get Mandy back? Does this mean she has nothing stressful or disagreeable happening right now?

  37. So very true. Patience is the secret. Of course avoiding traffic is helpful. Peace, howie

  38. It's good to step out of the rat race when things get crazy.

  39. I like to put it in 1st gear and pretend that I can't get it out of 1st gear, and then I tell them that I've never driven a stick... then people start to back off...and that works for a car or life...nice trick...hehehehe