How to Make Use of a Jacket
By: Allison Kugel
“Don’t seek, don’t search, don’t ask, don’t knock, don’t demand… relax. If you relax, it comes. If you relax, it is there. If you relax, you start vibrating with it.” – Osho
Much of our suffering comes from our unwillingness to relinquish control. Everything from large sweeping intersections in our lives to the smallest details that plague us daily when they don’t go our way; we often operate under the faulty belief that we can use force, manipulation, or anger to bend the universe to our will.
Coming up to New York after living in Florida, my nine year old son grew accustomed to living his life in t-shirts and shorts, unencumbered by the heavy winter gear that New Yorkers wear. As the weather has grown colder, he has been resistant to wearing his jacket, hat and gloves; instead insisting on layering t-shirts and sweatshirts.
For weeks now, our morning routine has included me begging, pleading, warning him about getting sick, threatening to take away various privileges, and at times, shouting in exasperation. “JUST PUT YOUR JACKET ON!”
In reality, the thought of him getting sick, or even what the bus driver or teacher would think of me were my motivating factors for my panic. It was my own discomfort about the situation. What I’ve realized is, ultimately, I don’t have control. My job as his parent is to empower him with love, values, ideas, compassion, and the information he needs to make the right decisions for himself. All I can do is sit back and allow him to experience the world.
This morning, as we were waiting together for the school bus to arrive, I observed that my son’s hat and gloves were inside his backpack; his winter jacket slung over his arm. None of these items were actually on his body.
I said, “Uh… you know, carrying a hat and gloves, and holding your winter jacket won’t keep you warm. They only work if you wear them.” He replied, “I know that.” I nodded my head in mutual understanding and said, “Okay, good. I just want to be sure that you’re aware of how the whole process works.” He stared at me and let out a sheepish giggle.
Slowly, he reached inside his backpack for his hat and placed the hat on his head for warmth. Then, as if to say, “I’m not doing this because you want me to. It’s my decision,” he slung his arms through his jacket. As a singular stance of independence, he skipped the gloves. I was okay with that. The allowing and the space of freedom it created caused my son to put on his hat and jacket. It was more effective than the begging, the pleading, the vague threats of catching a cold.
In life, the more we try to control others or our circumstances and surroundings, the more our desired outcome eludes us. Be in a state of allowing. Just as you would allow the water from a babbling brook to seamlessly run through your fingers rather than trying to clench and trap the water in your hands, allow things to simply be as they are, and watch as your suffering diminishes.