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Reacting to Outside Influences

If we’re lucky, we place ourselves in environments that cater to our best life. We surround ourselves with trees and wildlife and safe places to walk with our thoughts. If we’re lucky, we gently place ourselves far from ambient noise and light. Traffic and leaf blowers and well-meaning spotlights shining bright beams into nothingness all grab our attention when we aren’t conditioned to ignore these things.

Now and then I find myself in a hotel next to a highway, and listen to the steady escalation as the world awakens and drives from place-to-place. This should be unremarkable, and yet I just remarked on it simply because it’s different for me. Had I simply gotten a room on the other side of the hotel perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed at all. But since that isn’t the case, I make peace with the noise and celebrate the temporary nature of it. It’s not my noise forever, only for a couple of days.

The thing is, we are as much a product of our environments as we are of our internal dialogue. What we experience builds us, teaches us love or hatred, tolerance or bias, acceptance or impatience. Living in a frictionless state sounds blissful to some, and like slow death to others. We choose how we react, and that reaction informs us about our future state. Funny, the way it is. Each reaction sets up the next interaction, when we react yet again in whatever way we do.

Life is a series of reactions to outside influences. We chafe at some, embrace others, and build a life out of a chain of reactions and decisions along the way. Does this place us in a joyful state or a state of misery? And how will we handle the answer? We are what we repeatedly do, this is true, but we’re also what we decide not to do or accept as our fate in the moment. We each have the opportunity to choose wisely and to learn from previous mistakes. Like staying on the back side of the hotel, facing the highway, we learn lessons that might be applied in the future.

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