Exercise — Reacting to a Surprise Event

Exercise – An unexpected situation erupts: in your reaction is something being ignored, and in the order that you impose is something being added that has no real bearing?

Thinking back over a range of ‘surprise‘ situations, one of the most fundamental reactions below surface thinking is a judgmental tendency or gut feeling about whether the event is good or bad in relation to me. An immediate and significant separation occurs between the event and me. It involves a basic tendency to avoid or engage. For instance, I recently checked lottery numbers and realized I hit on 3 out of 5 Cash-Five games. Surprise! I won (a little) money! I will mentally engage this event!

My mind seems to process selectively, in that it sees what it wants to see or is comfortable with. Most everything else gets ignored or repressed, denied, and projected. So, all the goings on in the moments leading to, and happening simultaneous with the surprise of my little windfall were ignored (such as what I was thinking and focused on just before I decided to check my numbers), and everything else going on in the moment – that irrelevant content was denied because it had nothing to do with my winning tickets.

What was added were questions of whether to take the cash, or let the winnings ride and play new games? These questions were in the form of projections, imaginings of me in the scenario acting out those alternative possibilities, with further fantasies unfolding about what it would be like to hit a really big lottery worth millions. A whole new contextualization had begun with the eruption of this new ‘winning‘ event. The contextualizing that I was engaged in just prior to noticing the unchecked lottery tickets on the table was fading in memory and significance, as that new impulse to check the numbers had replaced it – all resulting from the eruption of an unexpected situation.

So I see what was being ignored, or better, how I was ignoring in my reactive behavior, but what was being added that had no real bearing? Perhaps the fantasy aspect with daydreams of wealth and happiness in my own world, a la la land zone of imaginary delights. What bearing did those projections have on anything, really? There was an event, it seemed necessary to deal with it in the moment, to make decisions about future alternatives, but the daydreams seemed more like fluff, born out of the desire to freeze and prolong the feel of that ‘winning‘ moment.

About David Filippone

I have been a student of Tarthang Tulku’s Time, Space, Knowledge (TSK) vision for over twenty-five years. For the past twelve years, I’ve studied TSK and Full Presence Mindfulness with Jack Petranker, director of the Center for Creative Inquiry (CCI). I have also participated in programs offered by Carolyn Pasternak of the Odiyan Center. For the past several years, I have curated the CCI Facebook page, which is often TSK-focused, and I serve on the CCI Board of Directors. The CCI Facebook page can be found at the following link... https://tinyurl.com/ybyfolcf
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2 Responses to Exercise — Reacting to a Surprise Event

  1. Hi Michael,
    Thanks for responding. By the way, my lottery winnings were less than $20. No big thing really, but still, a mild surprise. :-) I used winning the lottery for illustrative purposes. You know this of course, but anything unexpected can be a surprise, any event that draws our attention. I remember you writing about early mornings when you sat on your porch to write, and suddenly you noticed the breeze rustling through the cottonwood trees. It drew your attention from whatever you were contextualizing. Momentarily you dwell in that new experience. Perhaps you attempted to extend it by holding it in a mentally discursive way. I don’t know. Events are continuous, surprise can be quite subtle, don’t you think?

  2. michaelg says:

    Hi David, I appreciate you starting off the new six weeks with a lively post. I’m afraid I can’t bring to mind a surprising event, as I’m sure that the unexpected can provide an opportunity to examine the mind momentarily at a loss (before it selects some characteristic response). This afternoon, I was with an 84 year old man with whom I share an interest in writing and he said he feels certain that in the fairly near future people will be living to 120. He is looking forward to some extra time himself and when I asked him why, he said that he had been unhappy for so many years he wants more of his current happiness. Strangely, considering that I also have that sense of having squandered decades of my life on listless discouragement, my present feeling of being alive doesn’t make me want to prolong it in any particular way. Rather I am more likely to enjoy whatever engagements come my way. I’m not sure that makes me more attentive to the passing moments (and how arising, response and interpretation precede a sense of ownership). I just feel more present within the flow of time. Perhaps appreciating being carried along within a flowing presence goes a long way to absolving one of concern for what may happen next (and how many next’s there may be). So that was my surprising realization this afternoon: Time is a friend and ally which I hope will continue to have my back if and when more difficult circumstances come my way.. –Michael

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