It’s that time of year when uncompromising, mean-in-the-heart people are landing at my doorstep. My therapist friend says that some people become this way because of grief. I’d like to apply that, but the truth is, this latest batch and their current behavior was predictable and no surprise.
So I’ll erase grief as a reason for their unpleasant behavior.
It’s not that I can’t be stubborn and hot-headed. I am far from human perfection. In my defense, I’ve developed my enabling spirit into a negotiating spirit. There are always two-sides to every whole. The question remains, however, what if one of those sides is so badly injured and toxic that a cure is unlikely—at least in the present?
Do I walk away from the toxicity in an effort to avoid contamination? Do I offer healing words as a poultice, knowing full well that the toxic one will take the poultice and try to smash it into my face?
Is their infection my challenge anyway?
Well, they are at my doorstep and for complicated reasons, can’t be removed. So, in many ways, their infection becomes my challenge.
Today I posted a quiz on The Daily Prism—a blog I post everyday to highlight the good that exists. The quiz came from a UC Berkeley website called The Greater Good—The Science of a Meaningful Life. The quiz helps one learn one’s connection to humanity. It asks things like: Sometimes people think of those who are not a part of their immediate family as “family.” To what degree do you think of the following 3 groups of people as “family”…to community, to country, and to humans everywhere.
My answers indicated that I am connected to humanity. But I felt like a hypocrite after a disturbing personal discussion that led me to scream out loud, “That person is a complete idiot. “
There you go: spiritual imperfection and showcasing a lack of empathy toward the person I labeled as a complete idiot. The one person I referred to is mean-spirited and untrustworthy. I could use more patience towards this kind of person.
Written in red felt pen across my chest is an F. It’s my patience score. I’m working for at least a C grade. It’s a personal challenge. My present advantage is the aging process and a tad less energy than in those days of yore. In other words, sometimes I’m forced to sit, take a deep breath and recite a prayer.
With a determination to achieve the highest aim
For the benefit of all sentient beings
Which surpasses even the wish-fulfilling gem,
May I hold them dear at all times.
That’s a lovely prayer found on a website for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I’m not a Buddhist simply because I’ve found truth in so many different belief-systems. But the Dalai Lama can usually address my issues with some simple search terms.
And from observation, I agree with this 14th century statement from Je Tsong Khapa, “…the more the practitioner engages in activities and thoughts that are focused and directed toward the fulfillment of others’ well-being, the fulfillment or realization of his or her own aspiration will come as a by-product without having to make a separate effort.”
But I didn’t first read this statement from a spiritual manual. My first introduction was from a wise woman, poet, and head of the Church of Christian Precepts. She’s long gone from this earth now, but oh, for the influential words she shared. Words that encouraged those who listened to be mindful of our actions, our thoughts, and our words because they are as real as the unseen air that we breathe, and affect us even more than the simple act of taking in oxygen.
She sent me this prior to her passing, knowing that I was wrestling with a serious personal issue:
A Bit of Philosophy
by Twyla Lake
What’s the use crying and sighing?
It won’t drive away the gloom.
Rather turn to something better —
Sing a song or write a letter.
Then for blues, there won’t be room.
One of the common faults of people
Is to feel they’ve been abused,
Hadn’t we better look to our brother
Whom by life, may too be bruised?
We all have our little troubles;
Few think life is but a jest.
But if we keep sunshine on the surface,
Don’t you think we’ve passed the test?
A while ago the tears were starting,
Thus the peacock of my clouds,
In writing others,
For my troubles, it forms a shroud.
These words bring tears. They are truer than I can imagine. But how do I apply this to the uninvited thunderous intrusions at my doorstep? The second stanza is the path. I know it’s true.
So, I’ve posted this poem and the above prayer near my computer and the telephone. And as I read or listen to the absurdies sent my way, I understand that these intrusions will pass, benefit will come forth for all (even if unrealized by all), and that I am blessed in all things that matter, as are they who roar at my door, and as are you.