Habit Energy

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
Taken from ‘There’s a Hole In My Sidewalk’ by Portia Nelson

CHAPTER ONE
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…. I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

CHAPTER TWO
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

CHAPTER THREE
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in…it’s a habit…but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

CHAPTER FOUR
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

CHAPTER FIVE
I walk down another street.

A friend pointed me to this poem. Since I see it speaking so clearly of how ‘habit energy’ (karma) works I thought it worth sharing here. Although this piece is pointing to lifetime steps they can be played out in a shorter time frame as well. For example there is the ever present ‘hole’ of thinking negatively about oneself which works on the mind, moment to moment. Trouble is, the hole can become so familiar and therefore comfortable, that the need for or the possibility of getting out, evaporates.

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One thought on “Habit Energy”

  1. This is great!…what I’ve found is that most people, myself included, don’t realize how much we’ve managed to open our eyes and spend too long bemoaning the hole we can now see but can’t get out of. My partner (prior to ordination) once cried to a dharma-brother, “But my meditation is so bad! All I do is think for thirty minutes!” And my brother said, “Yes, but you *know* this. And you managed to sit still through it. How many people can do that?” …which naturally brightened everyone’s mood and shifted some perspective on habitual thinking (and acting).

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