What Was Terrible Changed When I Questioned It

It’s a bright autumn day. Everyone’s bundled in winter coats, freshly taken out of the closet for the colder months ahead.

It’s a family outing to visit my son for parent’s weekend at college.

We run into a favorite professor and have a fabulous conversation, we walk past my son’s classrooms, he points out buildings, he talks about red square, the fountain that spouts water perfectly in unison with the measure of the wind, designed by engineering students, so nobody ever gets splashed by wayward drops while standing or sitting nearby.

Then my son winces.

He’s had an earache, he says, and he’s trying to ignore it.

Immediately I think “Gosh. Let’s head for the student health center!”

He agrees. He’s never been before.

He’s suffered from ear infections in the past. Good to catch it before they’re closed all weekend. Free healthcare.

The whole family, including grandma, assembles in the waiting room. We have a great time talking.

My son beckons to me to follow when his name is called in the waiting room. Just like old times when he was a kid.

Or, maybe I automatically rose out of my chair and went.

There’s a chair for me, the mom, and a chair for my son, and a chair for the nurse. This is a quick intake set-up get-you-in-the-system interview, blood pressure, other basics.

My son answers questions.

And then.

“Do you use marijuana?”

My son hesitates. He looks at me. He makes an oops hesitant smile like, uh-oh, ha-ha.


“More than once a week?”


On the outside I am cool.

Inside I’m having a heart attack.

All my fears of drugs, addiction, failure, horrors, OMG my son’s derailing into a terrible world, come screaming to the surface.


Clearing throat.

Yeah. It was that dramatic.

On the inside.

We leave, have a great evening with our family, enjoy dinner.

I have to wait to sort out how I feel about this *shocking* situation.

Later, I do The Work.

Who would I be without the belief that it is alarming, or awful, or an emergency that my son said YES to using marijuana?

Jeez. A thousand times calmer, that’s for sure.

Who would I be without the belief that this is terrible, terrible, terrible and something surely terrible, terrible, terrible will happen?

Noticing an inner silence that accepts all things, including every kind of drug created by humankind.

I turn the thought around: This is wonderful, interesting information. This is an opportunity. This is not terrible. I can be real, honest. No one is out of control (except my own dramatic thinking). I get to see what I think is so scary about the news. I get to inquire.

After inquiry, I text my son. It’s been three days. I ask if we can skype later, and as always he enthusiastically agrees.

When we’re looking at each other on screen, I say…”That was kinda awkward, right? But I’d love to talk about it with you. I got scared…and…I know you’re very adult and very awesome. I appreciated you telling the truth, that was cool. Can I ask you some questions? Do you have any questions for me?”

He says…”Oh, I almost forgot about that moment, that WAS awkward.” We laugh.

I tell him some interesting family history with drugs and alcohol.

He mentions, before I even ask (it was one of my questions) that he’s smoked pot twice this past year.


Not quite as horrifically bad as I pictured.

Ha ha!

“What seemed terrible changes once you’ve questioned it. There is nothing terrible except your unquestioned thoughts about what you see. So whenever you suffer, inquire, look at the thoughts you’re thinking, and set yourself free. Be a child. Know nothing. Take your ignorance all the way to your freedom.” ~ Byron Katie

Even if the story went another way, and my son was experiencing pain and suffering…that would have its freedom, too.

Any situation offers innocence, peace and awareness. Just the right amount, for what I need.

Much love, Grace

4 Replies to “What Was Terrible Changed When I Questioned It”

  1. Thank you so much for writing! Yes you are right, Katie says there is nothing terrible, nothing “evil” per se, except in our own thoughts. Quite amazing! If you’re not quite there yet (smile) then I love simply testing it out. The paradigm we often come from, since very young, is that there IS evil and trouble, and we have to avoid it as best as we can. That’s a frightening predicament, it keeps you on alert and cautious, you know? Just notice if you are safe, if there is goodness present, in any of those “terrible” situations you think of as evil. See if it is all bad, for yourself. There is no right or wrong answer, so if it seems like there is…don’t blame yourself for not seeing differently. I love continuing to notice what my mind chatters on about as “bad” or “evil” and what is actually true, that is perhaps greater than the mind and thinking. :)

  2. Yes, isn’t it funny how the mind will go to the worst case scenario! You will rise to meet whatever comes, especially when doing The Work. I realized part of me when I think the worst then immediately doesn’t want to know ANYTHING, so no conversation. But communicating is always so wonderful. :)

  3. As usual, Grace, you are right on the money for me! This was my deepest fear as well, and yet I knew the Work could unterribilize it for me! I felt such peace and calmness after I read this, and I realized I don’t have to future trip that my son is going to be a drug addict and never have a job and never go to college and never be a productive member of society! See, I was too afraid to even think this, let alone write it, until I read your post. Keep on keeping up with my fears, the way you always do, going ahead of me with the flashlight!
    Judy B.

  4. Hi, Grace
    I am a new subscriber and very very new to the work. i am finding that it gets into pieces of me I never wanted to see and I am really enjoying your mails. I just have one question,
    BK mentions often that there is no objective evil, just the attachment we have to our thoughts about the evil. What does this mean? Is there really no event or happening that is bad, evil etc? Could you clarify?

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