What experience are you going to create?
Sometimes we remember this world is an illusion, that we are dreaming and we are just making it all up.
Catia (my wife) gave me the opportunity to remember this when we were in Sao Paulo airport, leaving Brazil, last weekend.
The background to the story is that about a year and a half ago, when I was leaving Brazil, I was given a fine by the Federal Police for not cancelling my Brazilian Identity Card that had gone out of date. I had not renewed it because I no longer lived in Brazil. There is a requirement to cancel an Identity Card and there is a fine if the procedure is not followed. I did not pay the fine at the time. I can’t remember if I didn’t have enough money or I thought it was unfair and maybe I could argue a case against it.
Anyway, entering Brazil again about 4 weeks ago I was reminded about the fine. But because the printer (yes, the printer) was not working, they could not take the payment or even tell me the value of the fine. They reassured me that although the fine increased with time, there was a maximum limit of R$800. They told me I could pay it at the Federal Police in the city or on leaving Brazil.
Not wanting to spend an afternoon going to the Federal Police, I decided I would pay the fine on leaving the country.
So last weekend my anxiety was mounting as I stood in the queue to check passports which is a requirement on both leaving and entering Brazil.
I was thinking we may not have enough time before the flight to deal with the issue. I also had some judgements about the Federal Police being unreasonable, disorganised and unfair (and, yes, I know that these judgements were a reflection of how I was thinking about myself at that moment). My daughter was starting to get anxious because she imagined spending lots of time waiting while we talked with the Federal Police and that would mean less time looking in the duty free shops.
We arrived at the desk of a rather serious looking woman who, after looking at my passport, walked of with it without saying anything. We presumed she had went to the talk with the Federal Police. I know that saying the woman was “serious looking” is an evaluation rather than an observation. An observation is: she did not smile, only established eye contact when needed and said very little.
In the wait that followed my daughter got more anxious and my son was just bored waiting. I was trying to deal with my fears about having to pay more money than I wanted and getting into a no win argument with the police. Catia looked at me and said: “You know this is an illusion – you are just making it all up. What experience do you want to create?”
I smiled recognising these were the exact works that I needed to hear. Yes, of course it was all an illusion. And just then I was able to let myself feel the busyness of the airport, the lights, the sounds – it was all my dream. It was like I was in a movie. What did I want to happen? What script did I want to write?
The woman came back, handed me my passport, and said “go on”! No mention of the fine. No other words. Of course we were curious so we asked about it. She replied “you can only pay the fine when you next come into Brazil.”
We asked “What is the amount of the fine”?
She replied “I can’t tell you that, but if you want you can go to the Federal Police office over there and ask.”
I looked at Catia and we had a quick chat. What was the situation? Yet again we were not able to pay the fine. Is that a problem? Is there really a problem right now? We were told to “go on”! Do we really want to go and queue in the Federal Police office and ask questions and complain?
Lets go on and relax before getting the flight.
So that is what we did.
This experience reminded me of the script in the film “After Earth” when the father reminds his son over the radio, as his son is facing a potentially dangerous animal:
“Do not move
Recognise your power
This will be your creation.”
John Mark Stroud* interrupts the film at this point to make the following comment:
“You are always at choice to engage or not engage.
You are always at choice to believe the thought or not believe it’s a thought.
You are always at choice to let it pass like it’s no big deal or to give it all kinds of meaning and engage.”
What a great commentary on our lives!
* John Mark Stroud gives commentaries on movies to help people wake up!