Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look. ― Pema Chödrön,
Yesterday at work I was an asshole to a someone. I was short with her. And the interaction immediately felt bad. Generally, people describe me as patient when I work them, but I was so impatient with her that I was embarrassed as I talked with her. And I was rude. But I couldn’t stop. My behavior was like a rapidly spreading cancer or food poisoning induced diarrhea. I couldn’t stop it.
I have excuses—bad excuses—for why I was this way. I won’t list them because when I’ve tried, in a few previous drafts, to list them they all sound petty. Extremely petty. I could say that it was the other person’s fault, the woman I dealt with earlier who treated me poorly. I could say that I was tired. I could say that I don’t like working on Sundays, so I was already foul. I could say that I wasn’t supposed to be helping her because I was supposed to be doing something else. I could say a lot of things, but as I mentioned, they all sound like feeble attempts to not take responsibility for my own behavior.
I’m working on this kindness thing, this being present and real and compassionate in every moment with every person I meet, and I’m finding that the more I work on kindness and compassion, the more I am smacked in the face with the moments I am unkind. Or impatient. Or rude. Or short.
Or just an asshole.
And there are many moments I wish I could go back in time and change the tone in my voice, the look in my eyes, the mannerisms of my hands, or the unspoken language of my body positioning.
But I can’t. I can only try better later.
Is that another excuse? Is that another way of my excusing my own behavior, or is it a healthy way to move forward trying better next time? Is there a way to stop myself in the middle of an interaction with someone and just admit that I was being inconsiderate, unkind, or impatient?
My goal this week is going to be to allow myself the space to breathe between interactions, to stop myself if I feel like I am being less than kind or compassionate, and to really force myself to be fully present with each person with whom I interact. No excuses.
While I was out running this morning, I was thinking about how running is getting easier again, slowly but surely. I was noticing that I have time and energy now to look around and notice what’s around me as I run. My breathing is improving, my form is getting back to normal, and my legs are feeling stronger each week.
I found myself being incredibly thankful for this moment of renewal in my life, the time here and now when I am not a slave to sadness to anxiety. I am thankful for second—let’s be real 1000th—chances and that I am here to live more days.
I took some time, too, to pray and meditate while I was moving, which is really the goal of it all anyway. My mental health, and ultimately my ability to accomplish kindness and compassion, is wrapped up in my ability to begin my day with a long period of thinking, praying, and breathing.
Days, like today, when I don’t work until noon, are perfect for me. I can read, I can write, I can run, and I can pray and meditate in a slow, leisurely, intentional way. Days, like today, where I can sit on the porch and write while drinking coffee, are the days that make life worth living for me. And I know that sounds cheesy, but I know how true it is, so I’m grateful.
I’m also so very grateful to those of you who continue to read my words here, even when they seem sad, or hopeless, or cheesy, or beautiful, or cyclic, or uneventful. Thank you.
Namaste. Peace. Love.