I was tired and needed a shower. I shuffled down the dormitory hall of the yoga center, headed for the bathroom with my shampoo, soap and p.j.s under my arm.
"There's a mouse in there," said Ellen, as she briskly headed toward her room.
I froze. "What? I need to take a shower."
"Oh, well, he probably won't bother you," she smiled as she closed her door.
I decided to walk to the opposite end of the building and find a mouse-free bathroom, so I could take a shower in peace. I shuttered in fear and discomfort of just the idea of a wiggly little mouse wandering around the bathroom floor. So for days, I avoided the "mouse bathroom." I wouldn't even go in there to brush my teeth, but rather I'd take a long walk to use another bathroom.
One day, I thought that maybe I was being silly about all this. So when nature called, I went into the mouse bathroom. There was no sign of him. It was okay! I went into one of the stalls.
When I emerged, moments later...there he was, by the sink. The mouse! He saw me, and squeaked in fear. He started running in circles, then tried to climb up the side of the trash can, but slid back down. In a panic, he ran into one corner, then another, trying to find a place to hide ... from me.
Oddly, I didn't panic, scream, or run in fear. In that moment, I was still, just watching the little mouse. I saw and felt his fear. In that moment, as he finally found a little crack in the tile floor under the radiator that he could crawl into, I realized that I ... am the mouse ... that we ALL are like the mouse sometimes.
As fear of the unknown strikes us, we panic, we run, we cry out, we hide. I was flooded with compassion in this bolt of awareness ... compassion for the mouse, for my family, my friends, my loved ones, and for myself. Fear is something we all experience when we feel threatened, or when we are hurt, either physically or emotionally. It's a reaction to protect ourselves from harm.
Sometimes we might fear a literal danger, as in a life threatening situation. But sometimes, our fear ... is over something as small as a mouse. We all experience fear as part of life, every living thing does. But as humans, we have this wonderful gift of awareness...we can step back and recognize our fear, look it in the face, and breathe. And sometimes, if we're able to do that, the fear fades. Sometimes, if we can step back from the emotional intensity of our fear, we can open our hearts to love, instead ... like I did with the mouse. I released my own fear and realized that he (the mouse) and I shared something in common ... and that I could chose to react differently.
In my life, as I feel the fear of life changes descending upon me, I make it a practice of trying to let go of my fear ... and instead, I turn to faith ... faith and trust that the universe or God is guiding me in the direction in which I need to go ... that there are lessons to learn around every corner, if I just keep my eyes and my heart open ... even when there's a mouse in the bathroom.