MOST of the time I *try* to be a decent human being. I try to reflect on my behaviors – good, bad, and ugly – and to conduct myself in an upstanding way as much as I can.
I ALSO fall short plenty!
As human beings, we are subject to more influences than I think we ever want to admit (hell, even the moon has me all off kilter when it’s full!) We are subject to changes in mood, for so many reasons that it would be nigh impossible to list them all. But that’s okay. We are allowed to ebb and flow, because that is just the nature of life. We don’t have to be perfect all the time, and even if we have some grandiose notion that we’d like to be. . .it doesn’t always play out that way.
But the other day a thought came to mind that stopped me right in the middle of my “if-the-car-in-front-of-me-doesn’t-speed-up-I’m-going-to-go-nuts!” rant. It was such a jarring thought that my attitude shifted. Instantaneously.
I have the wonderful fortune of volunteering with children with disabilities with two organizations – I’ve never found something that lit my heart quite as much (and that’s saying a LOT, as I am a truly passionate person about my life, my activities, and the careers I have had.) I love the kids, and I love meeting their parents – learning about them, their individualities, and what makes them happy, is an overwhelming joy.
So as I was having this moment of “can’t stand anyone” (and I think it was in reaction to a woman tailgating on the highway and giving me the middle finger, despite that I had no idea what I did to warrant it) I thought to myself. . .
What if the person in that car who I’m getting all flustered because of, or at, was one of the parents of the kids I get to work with? Would I act the same way?
I wasn’t *trying* to give myself a guilt trip, or make myself feel badly. When my behavior deviates – and I think it’s fair to say, as adults, we generally know when we are being unreasonable and inappropriate with our reactions (should we choose to be honest with ourselves!) – I am aware of it. I do try to correct myself and in effort to curb poor actions, I have said to myself everything from “you never know who has a weapon!” “you can’t take back what you say,” to “that really doesn’t make me a good person to flip someone off”…!
Doesn’t always seem to calm me down, though!
But. . .the thought that it *could be* someone in a situation such as the families whose children I work with shut me down pronto.
I would never want to behave that way with one of them. And when I think about it, I can’t imagine I really want to act that way with ANYone. What does reacting poorly say about me anyway? Nothing grand, I assure you!
When I think about it, it makes me feel sad that I would allow temporary emotions to overcome me in such a way that I lash out – in any regard. As a human being, I know it is bound to happen, and that expecting myself to be Miss. Goody Twoshoes is NOT realistic. But because I don’t know what other people are facing, and because I also know how blessed I am, I appreciated the supernal reminder. . .which stopped me from getting angry, or for the woman who flipped me off to ruin more than the few seconds of my day during which she did so.
I know I’m going to fall short sometimes, but that moment was one I know I will remember. . .
I have the blessing to work with those who have a journey fraught with challenges, and I LOVE the work because I have the opportunity to make lives better. To behave poorly as a result of flared emotions is to contribute in a negative way, and I will suffer personally when I choose that route. The only thing that would make it worse is to also hurt someone else who didn’t deserve it to begin with…and I’d say I don’t really want to decide that someone deserves any of that.
In Martial Arts we say we hope we never have to use what we learn – the idea isn’t about trying to prove something, nor to assert any kind of feigned dominance.
Along those lines, we are taught that ideas like “revenge” and “anger” serve only as injurious deviations from our true paths. The Universe finds a way to right things without the heavier, shall we say, karmic repercussions of going down that road.
To seek revenge or harbor ill will is, as Buddha says, holding the proverbial hot coals and assuming both that they will burn another…and also that we are impervious.
The truth is the reverse – to seek such things is to diminish our own self-worth. It is a disservice to ourselves as willfully negative actions and thoughts hinder the flow of “good” that has the potential to continually manifest in our lives. It is far wiser to let go of resentment, and to be as the Martial Artist aspires to be – free of the burdens that come with animosity and bad blood.
It isn’t always an easy pursuit, but it is a noble one and worth the aspiration. Neither human being nor circumstance has the right to turn us from the higher road.
A friend shared this with me recently, just as it was needed.
“Tis as much a courtesy to ask for a cup of cold water as it is
to fetch it.”
C.S. Lewis and Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy
Some of us were born with the hope and desire – above all – to illuminate as a beacon the worlds around us, to alleviate the pains of loved ones, and to be a safe haven in times of fear. And yet through our own journey we have lost the understanding that others wish also to do the same for us.
We needn’t save the world by depriving others the same possibility. . .for in so doing, we – however unintentionally – deny them what brings them the most joy.
Sometimes in effort to light the paths of others, we remove all but darkness from the one before us – though it would seem a problem all our own, it can easily cast sadness upon those who wish for us also the ability to see. To learn is a lifetime pursuit, even with willingness (which I’ve got in spades!), but I am thankful for those who encourage and enlighten along the way – it truly is a day at a time.
As an empath and co-dependant type, this is something I work on regularly – I’m worlds better than I once was, and I’m able to hear this sentiment in my mind even during the toughest times. I’ve referred to this idea often because it’s juts so powerful. . .
I remember watching Labyrinth as a kid – you remember that film with David Bowie as the Goblin King, right? Yeah, that one. (Don’t judge!) Well, for whatever the reason, I always noted – rather firmly – the “you have no power over me” part (the phrase alluded to in my early post, as linked above.) It just stuck. That said, I didn’t really apply it to myself until many…many…moons later.
Today I find myself going back to the sentiment – OFTEN. As they say, everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. You never know what’s going on with someone else, and therefore cannot know the impetus behind their actions. The reactions others have are (truly) their own and what we see is not always an accurate reflection of the full picture. Because of this, it is important we remind ourselves that whatever negativity comes our way – no matter the form – it doesn’t have power over us unless we let it.
As human beings, we feel – for empaths, profoundly – and that’s okay. But we do have a choice about whether we go flying off the tracks in anger, sadness, hurt etc…based on the actions of others. We don’t HAVE to. Neither they, nor any other junky energy, need ruin a beautiful day, or change our positive approach – only we can decide that.