The Roots are Not Personal

By Greg Baer M.D.

May 7, 2011

A few days ago it rained hard and long, causing water to accumulate in puddles here and there on our property. In one area of the woods, the water was three to four feet deep, so I decided to dig a drainage ditch from this small pond to the nearby creek.

Digging a trench by hand through the woods is difficult, because nearly every time you push a shovel into the ground, you engage one or more of the great many roots that run under the surface in every direction. Many of these roots are large enough that an ax is required to cut them. For hours I shoveled and chopped my way through the root-laced ground, mud flying and covering me from head to toe.

At one point—as I attempted to turn my body while lifting my boot out of the thick mud—I fell flat on my face. Humiliated, I actually yelled at the mud and roots for putting me on the ground. Imagine, yelling at mud and roots for simply being what they are. In that moment, I forgot that rain does not fall ON ME. It simply falls. Mud does not intend to trap my boots or make me slip and fall. Mud just happens when waterfalls on the right kind of ground. Roots don't reach out to ensnare me or my shovel. They just grow out from the tree, to make it stronger and bring nutrition to the trunk and leaves.

Similarly, life does not intend to make problems for us. Life just IS, and we choose how to respond to—or proactively interact with—any element of it. This is more obvious with mud and roots, but it's still true with people, who often appear to be doing things to us. But they're not. They're just being themselves, and on occasion, we happen to get close enough to feel the effects of their choices, much as I discovered the effects of the mud and roots only as I chose to hack my way through them.

The people and things around us just ARE. It's not personal. We then have the power—the privilege, really—to choose who we shall be. Will we be irritated and miserable? Will we try to change the people and things around us, which never works in the long run? Or will we choose to be loving and happy? It really is our choice.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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