So here’s a thought I’ve been having the last couple days. This is my 130th blog post. Why, after 129 posts, am I suddenly questioning why anyone would want to hear what I have to say anyway? Why do my trivial, completely disposable thoughts about Buddhism or camels kissing or Peyton Manning T-Shirts or anything else need to be chronicled and archived? Maybe it’s because I recently started a fictional serial on this blog that I’m suddenly feeling a sense of justification about having a blog at all. Y’know, like me writing fiction somehow makes it nobler to then spout off about today’s headlines like I’m not just another jerkass with an opinion. I don’t know. But this is 130 ladies and germs. As my friend Lisa would say, thanks for reading.
I took one of those Buzz Feed quizzes the other day, the ones my friend Dan just abhors. I took it because my job is conducive to spending a lot of time on Facebook, but don’t tell my boss that. I think my friend hates them because a great many of them are entitled “What kind of Late Model Sedan Are You?” or “What Kind of Breakfast Cereal Are You?” (a 2010 Nissan Altima and Lucky Charms). But this was kind of revealing. After I answered the seven or 10 questions on the quiz, I found out that the deadly sin that most governs my life is Wrath. This surprised me. I thought for sure it would be Pride. Not because I’m a necessarily proud person, but I do tend to think highly of myself with that my massive inferiority-superiority complex. I mean, I meditate for every day and read up on all things Buddhism. I nurture the sense of calm and loving kindness such things provide me. So why, when something doesn’t go my way or someone behaves in ways that irk me, do I go around the corner?
I stew about it and I stew about it for days, weeks or months on end. A lot of these things I’ve done and I’m angry or disappointed in myself for. But some are things that others have done or ways in which I didn’t get my way. Those are the things that drive me up a wall. One of the pervasive concepts in AA is resentment because holding on to a resentment is one of the No. 1 things that will drive one to drink again. When a person doesn’t do or think acceptably (which really is just me not allowing people to be themselves) or something happens that didn’t need to happen if only the Universe would follow my rules, I take it personally because Dammit, I Am That Important. Essentially, not living life on life’s terms, one of the central themes of Alcoholics Anonymous. The simple, yet often immensely difficult to find and maintain, mindset of holding no one and nothing to any set of expectations I have and then getting all pissy when things don’t turn out my way. It’s essentially the “Screw you guys, I’m going home” thinking, all due credit to Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
And it’s something that we all deal with. Often I’ll get people who say that many of the truths of AA are just as true for normal people as AA’s or other recovery group folks, and that’s certainly true. The difference in coping mechanisms is of course vastly different. That’s why addicts and alcoholics have our groups. Normal people deal with their problems in healthy and productive ways. All of us took crap and drank crap and thus lost a whole lotta crap because we tried another way and it didn’t work out so well for us. Capish?
Back to resentments. This kind of stinking thinking can go to great heights. When people don’t do what I want and say what I want, a likely response is that my inflated ego jumps into my mouth and tells the person that I thought they were “smarter than that.” In took many years for me to realize that saying this to a person was essentially like saying “You are a smart person. Therefore, you should think what I think because I am a smart person. And if you don’t think what I think, then you are obviously a stupid person.” Granted, the topic in question was which Radiohead album was the best, but I still think I probably pissed my good friend off at least a little because his was Kid A and mine was The Bends. Sorry about that Dave.
So what is the remedy for all this? Patience. Not only the patience to allow other people to be themselves, but patience with myself. Patience in allowing myself to get over the anger or frustration I let run its natural cycle. Allowing myself to feel the emotions that consume my heart, being careful not to act on those emotions, and then letting them go instead of suppressing them and letting them fester and rise to a boiling point. And above all, not letting them dictate my actions. I mean, I got death and taxes coming, y’know?
I have wrath in my heart. It’s there and it’s not leaving. And it’s right that it’s there. Hell, the Buddhist Priest at the local temple has shared a couple stories about losing his cool. The trick is adjusting to the world around me and not sulking because I wanted three cookies and all I got is two. Having the patience to realize that the world is perfect the way it is. It’s me who is flawed.
But I’m working on it.