I sat down moments ago with my cup of hot tea at a sunny table in the window of a hip cafe here in St. Louis. I pulled out my laptop, plugged into the opera station on Pandora and started to brainstorm what I wanted to write about. Not five minutes later, a woman walked past my table and bumped into it so hard that it spilled my tea all over the table. I pulled my laptop to safety, jumped up with a loud exclamation of nonsensical surprise and realized the tea was narrowly missing pouring itself from the tabletop into my bag on the floor.
That woman did not say one word of apology. Did not even so much as look back over her shoulder after making solid contact with my table. Her friend, who was walking behind her, saw it all happen. He did not say anything to me, either.
I was am still pissed. Honestly, I half wanted to rush out after her and tell her what she’d done. How nothing bad had happened, but that I was disgusted by her lack of attention and care. Instead, I asked the barista for a little help with clean-up on aisle four. As she kindly helped wipe down my table and replenish my cup of tea with more hot water, I found myself having to consciously restrain from saying nasty things about the culprit to the sweet barista. Things that involved the words “fat,” “dumb,” and one in particular that rhymes with “pitch.”
As I nestled back into a different chair at a different table, fuming with road rage. At first, I starting musing about what it must mean to be experiencing road rage without being behind the wheel, but now I’m wondering why being on the road gives us an excuse to be angry. To call people names. To feel ignored, taken advantage of, or inconsequential.
How often do we feel wronged or see something happen and immediately start throwing out strings of verbal abuse? It happened for months during the election this year (“what a d-bag this guy is”). It happens when someone cuts me off in traffic (“gee, thanks, a-hole”). It happened when that woman knocked into my table moments ago (“inconsiderate b*tch”).
I see it as a reminder to remain thoughtful and considerate in my day-to-day actions with other people. But maybe it’s time to start seeing it as a practice of compassion. The really annoying kind of compassion where you have to be compassionate even though the person you’re practicing compassion towards is a complete and total idiot. (I clearly have some work to do with this.)
Step one is to cut out that hateful language, at least outwardly to begin with. Then I can work on step two, which is not calling someone a great string of names on the inside. I reckon the final step would be to stop seeing these little injustices as intentional attacks on me directly. Or maybe that’s really step one. I’ll just have to start trying all three steps at once and see how it goes.
I just ran across this old blog post from exactly three years ago today… Thought I would re-share. It’s interesting to me to look back on that day three years ago, knowing what was making me feel vulnerable and exposed in my personal life, and feel the lightness on my shoulders when I realize that those issues no longer plague me. But still – some of the thoughts hold very true even today.
On Wednesday morning two weeks ago, I walked out to my car to leave for work. I remember looking at my sunvisor and thinking, “I don’t remember leaving that down.” I walked up to the passenger side and wondered when I had taken everything out of my glove compartment and scattered it all over the seat. Squatting down to try and figure out what was going on, I discovered a broken window.
Someone had straight up broken into my poor little Saturn!
I’d never had a car broken into before, and I wasn’t quite sure how to react. I was shaking, crying, yelling, and annoyed, feeling completely violated and vulnerable. And perhaps to make things even more frustrating, I found myself angry that they hadn’t even taken anything! The back of my car was full of STUFF – a bin of clothes en route to the Goodwill, a box of Bhagavad Gitas and journals, stacks of blankets and yoga mats, a collection of yoga music – and none of those things had been touched.
I cleaned the shards of glass out of the back of my car, had the window replaced, picked up and dusted off my ego, and moved on.
The following Wednesday, I walked out to my car to discover my window had been broken out again. Same window – the little one that costs an arm, a leg, and your faith in the greater good of mankind. I stood in the middle of the road asking a million questions, making a million assumptions, and saying a million nasty words as Lara stood on the sidewalk wrapped in a towel, dripping wet from being mid-shower.
This time, they HAD rifled through the bag of clothes and the stacks of books. They even went through my trunk, pulling out the stack of Mexican Blankets I was transporting as props. But again – nothing was taken.
And now – now it’s Tuesday night. I’m afraid to go to bed. I parked my car around the block, showered it with all the Om Namah Shivaya’s I could muster. I fear Wednesday mornings. Dad offered to sit on my front porch tonight, just to keep an eye out.
I had forgiven the bugger who had broken the window the first time. Probably shouldn’t have kept all my stuff sitting on the backseat, I thought. Probably looks interesting to anyone shining in a quick flashlight. Probably assumed that there was something worth money in there for them to pawn off for quick cash. Well, I’ve learned my lesson, I’d say to myself. If you leave things laying around that look intriguing, someone’s likely to come around and want more.
But then – to have it done again? To have “learned my lesson” but not abided by my own advice quickly enough to remove the piles of things from my car made me feel like a complete fool.
When you leave things out in the open, you make yourself vulnerable to passers-by. You run the risk that someone might find some interest in the things you say, the ideas you share, and they might stick around to see if there’s more. Some folks will inquire lovingly; others will press their way into your life, refusing to take no for an answer.
In the meantime, because you lay things out in the open, anyone has the opportunity to rifle through your knowledge, your beliefs, your hopes, your dreams, your fears… your EVERYTHING. When you put it out there, you give a lot of people the opportunity to pick up on it.
I can’t leave in fear because I worry someone will come break back into my life. I will take the appropriate precautions to protect myself now based upon the lessons I’ve learned (the hard way) but the chance still remains that someone may do it again. And it may mean that someone rushes into my life, rifles through everything I’ve got and decides it’s not interesting enough so they hightail it out of there before they get caught. Or it may mean that someone gets just what they’ve been looking for. Or maybe someone will let me offer to open the door for them, ask if they can have a look around, and give something to share in return.
Living a deep and open life has its risks. And while I don’t recommend putting all of your worldly belongings in your car, what is the importance of keeping your opinions and emotions stored away? The right person comes along, and BAM – everything you thought was locked up safe is out in the middle of the street.
It’s scary. But it’s time to forgive those who have imposed upon you – without them, you would not be reminded of the things that they could never take with them: your own innate knowledge of who you are, who you are not. What is important to you, what is not.
It’s inevitable – someone will find you interesting, come into your life, rifle through your emotions, your strengths, your loves, your advice, values, and support. Some might take what they needed and run with it. Or they may decide they don’t want any of it. Or you may decide you’re happy to share it, regardless of the outcome.
This is your opportunity to decide what it is you want to put out there. Do you want to display that you’re a caring, loving soul, but be bitter and resentful when too many people try to draw from that pool?
For me – my car is cleaned out. There’s hardly a hint left behind in my car of my life. I have retreated a bit from keeping it all out in the open because I fear who will come along next. For the time being, it’s the best thing I can do for myself – those little windows that they keep coming through are expensive to replace. And my poor little Saturn can only take so much.
I’m very much looking forward to taking some ensemble classes down at the Folk School of St. Louis at the end of next month, and figured it probably means it’s time to start getting un-rusty on the guitar. So, I’ve decided to learn at least one new song each week that I can share with you on the YouTubes. Only took me an hour to figure out this one, Jolene (a Dolly Parton song that I’ve always been a little bit in love with the lyrics).
Any requests? I’m looking especially to learn some more folksy-bluegrassy-old timey country songs, so leave your suggestions here.
Happy Winter Solstice, you little pagan monkeys, you.
I’ve spent the past week sorting through nearly a thousand blogs (I am actually NOT exaggerating, honest) of people who write about their fitness goals and found a lot of inspiration/frustration within the majority of them.
Allow me to clarify – these bloggers are the folks who write about how they lost 100 lbs, or how they never played sports and now they run 5ks. They highlight their favorite workouts, their favorite healthy meals and they inspire the pants off of one another – sometimes literally, depending on how much weight they’ve lost.
A typical work day
The inspiring part of these blogs: They make me realize that if these folks can be healthy/active/fit/runners, then so can I.
The frustrating part of these blogs: That I’m not doing this whole “writing” thing more. These people write on a consistent basis – sometimes even daily. Twice daily. Every hour (exaggeration).
All this came to a head on Monday, when I found myself feeling very claustrophobic at my computer, spending too much time reading and sorting for my job. I was spending all this time reading about active people and was the furthest from doing that myself. I couldn’t stand it, so the next morning I woke up at 5am and went to the rec center to just move. I even RAN. RAN! Like, on purpose! And I discovered that now that I am in St. Louis (newsflash; I’m in St. Louis now), there is way more oxygen than in Denver. I can run a quarter mile without even getting winded. It’s incredible.
delicious kale chips
Anyway, the long and the short of it is that today being the shortest day of the year, things can only get brighter from here. If you’re not happy or feeling content doing things the way you’ve been doing them, there is always an opportunity to change your habits. It’s not easy. It’s frustrating. But believe me, it is absolutely do-able. I’m using today as my excuse to make a change. But you can choose whatever day you want.