Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Another Growth Opportunity

Here's what I got in my mailbox today from Tricycle Daily Dharma, which I usually appreciate:
We should be especially grateful for having to deal with annoying people and difficult situations, because without them we would have nothing to work with. Without them, how could we practice patience, exertion, mindfulness, loving-kindness or compassion? It is by dealing with such challenges that we grow and develop.
Judith Lief, from "Train Your Mind"
It made me feel better to send it to a friend who completely understands the irascible state of mind this kind of thing puts me in, so I thought I'd blog on it, too, and that might make me and someone else feel better yet.

Obviously, this quote is well-chosen the coming holiday, Thanksgiving, the day when 43.6 million Americans will travel to be with family; it's kind of a standing joke that these are people you would never have chosen as friends - in America there is a shocking disrespect for one's ancestors.  Most of these travel by car, driving the highways for hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an average round-trip of almost 600 miles.  And actually, this is no longer my situation in life due to deaths and other circumstances; I go to a Thanksgiving dinner at the church, where I like most of the people.

But not all.  And one of them I just really don't like right now.  For quite a few years my dislike was not a problem.  I just avoided them (plural pronoun used as gender-free singular). But recently they shot a couple of arrows right into my tender spot.  They were not aiming at me, and this is usually true when someone hurts you - some people just carry their big egos on their shoulders like a 2x4 and once in a while it swings around and happens to strike you, like a Three Stooges cartoon.

But - the damn arrow still hits you.  I would like to pull it out.  Meanwhile, this is a person I don't want to talk it through with, because I don't want to be their friend. I want to go back to comfortably avoiding them.

So I will have this to practice with on Thursday, for they will probably be there at church.  Right action, Buddhists call it.  Being pleasant.  Not gossiping angrily behind someone's back.  Not sending  bolts of cold.  You know.  And that will just have to do.  I intend to put them in the "difficult person" or "enemy" slot in my lovingkindness meditation, but right now that slot is full with somebody else.  Such is life. And, since I am a creative person, my "beloved" category is full, too.

To close with a little more attitude that reflects on American history, here's Jon Stewart:
I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.
Your comments are always welcome.

update:  I had no trouble at all with negative feelings toward that person.  A stray negative thought, but not a problem.  Isn't that true for everything we worry about?  (Unless, of course, it turns out to be much worse.)


  1. 1. I find myself agreeing with everything you wrote, especially "the irascible state of mind this kind of thing puts me in" (me too, me too).
    2. I find myself guffawing at the Jon Stewart quotation and then quickly sobering up because it's true.

    Thank you.

    1. Thank you. It's nice to know you are there.

  2. Don't let others wrestle out the ugliness from you. Use them to practice loving kindness
    on yourself...evidently that is the button they push, that little part of us that believes the B.S.,
    and really needs a hug and reassurance. I'm saying this to me, but anyone can understand.

    1. My father diligently trained me to believe that when someone hurt me, it was my fault ("what'd you do to them?"). So you are right in suggesting that I extend loving kindness to myself in these situations. Don't hang around with bullies.

  3. A huge THANK YOU for all of this----comments from others, too.