In an episode of Friends, Ross tries to move a large white couch up the narrow stairs to his apartment. Ross yells the word “Pivot!” over and over again at Rachel and Chandler, as if the word itself would be the grease that would help his friends slide the couch up the narrow staircase. Eventually, the friends give up. At the end of the episode, Ross returns the couch — cut in half, torn, and shredded. The salesperson offers him $4. Ross accepts.
This week in Spirit, consider the “pivot” scene an illustration of the hilarious lengths the ego/mind is willing to go to, just as Ross’s did, to grasp at a self-imposed, singular goal. First, start with Ross’s original intention: to provide a comfortable place for people to sit in his apartment. To fulfill his intention, Ross purchases a large, white couch. So far, so good — Ross has a clear intention, and takes an action in integrity with the original intention. Once the big white couch gets to Ross’s building, though, things go awry. Early on in the couch scene, Rachel says the couch is too big and won’t fit up the stairs. Ross ignores Rachel’s assessment, though. He shifts his focus away from the original intention of providing a comfy place to sit, and puts all his energy towards a singular, self-imposed goal: the couch…will…fit…up…the…stairs!
Ross begins to abandon his original intention (providing a comfy place to sit) towards the singular goal of getting the couch up the narrow staircase. What if Ross had listened to Rachel? What if Rachel had simply walked away right at the beginning, unwilling to support Ross’s couch moving delusion? Driven by the monkey mind, Ross struggles ever further away from his original intention and pours all his time and energy into beating the resistance where couch meets wall. In the process, Ross loses money, time, relationships, pride, and, eventually, the couch. Because the resistance and blocks became his focus (if we could just get the couch up the stairs!) he moved away from an easily attainable intention — providing a place for his friends to sit comfortably — to the impossible task of moving the giant white couch upstairs.
I’ve been each of these characters in the couch pivot scene — I’ve been Chandler, willing to sacrifice my back and limbs to help someone else achieve an unlikely and needless goal. I’ve been Ross, determined to overcome the laws of gravity and physics just to move a couch, when really, I could’ve exchanged the white couch for one that fit up the stairs. I’ve been Rachel, stating limitations I was aware of, but still throwing my energy and body behind another person’s efforts. With a lot of practice, though, I’ve learned what it feels like when my ego/mind is taking the wheel of action away from my intentions. I can stop pouring energy into escalating actions of futility — stop before choosing to chainsaw the couch in half, stop before I have to show up with a destroyed couch and ask for a refund, while my friends still have no comfortable place to sit. With practice, I have a lot more clarity about which actions help meet my intentions, and how much energy each action truly requires. I feel more free and clear, and more nimble in adjusting my own attachments and purposes.
This week in Spirit, I encourage everyone to get better at identifying your couch and pivot moments. People can pour entire lives into couch/pivot dramas, only to find awareness of the meaninglessness of such ego driven machinations right at the very end. Lucky for us, we can just watch an episode of Friends and practice right now. Look around and sort out whether your time and energy expenditures are, in the most direct way possible, going towards what you originally intended. Be willing to return the white couch at the very moment it becomes obvious it won’t fit up the stairs. Adjust your actions to align with your original intentions, and then apply the simplest, most direct means from one step to the other. When you stop trying to force the couch upstairs, you will find that an incredible amount of mental, physical, and emotional space and energy becomes available.
This week, think of the couch in that Friends episode as Spirit. Spirit just is. It’s never too big, or too rigid, or too… anything. It’s never in the wrong shape, or in the wrong size. Spirit doesn’t have any trouble fitting into our lives. All too often, though, our ego minds struggle to accept the dimensions of Spirit. We try to force it to fit into narrow stairways. We create scenarios of struggle. We ask our friends to help us shove Spirit into limiting spaces and purposes. We work harder and harder, thinking that’s what we need to do to get what we want. Instead of working hard, imagine you’re the couch. You are who and what you are. Practice full acceptance. If other people want to move you, let them try. You will not be moved. You are a sacred being, with soul, spirit and purpose. A heart beats in your chest, singing a particular song to Spirit, to your loved ones, through your words and actions. Let these aspects be what they are this week. This is not a week to shove a couch up a narrow staircase. No, this is the week to be the couch.
This week in Spirit — when the ego yells pivot, be the couch.