When “good” people do inexplicable things

Years ago when, for the first times ever, I rode public transportation in a big city, I was once in a crowded subway when I saw a woman’s bag about to slip to the floor. I reached out to catch it for her but she jerked it away with a “strong” verbal warning for me to keep my hands off. I was shocked and embarrassed but willing to learn the lesson: what seems like an innocent or maybe even admirable action on my part can be completely misunderstood and reacted to in unbelievable ways. I was relatively young at the time but too old to have not learned that lesson earlier. Talk about naiveté. You mean people understand and react as THEY can or wish, not as I want them to? Huh!

Now, this many years later, I continue to be given examples of this phenomenon and have to relearn the same truth over and over. Why do people do things that hurt my feelings when all I am doing is positive? A few years ago, I was up for a promotion to a permanent, benefited position in an institution where I had worked diligently and responsibly for over a dozen years. I was the only one, or so I and my co-workers thought, who was really eligible for the job. However, a few days after I had assumed the process would be completed, we received an email announcement from our supervisor that a new hire had received the position. There was no personal explanation to me, no rationale that I could see and no recourse.

I can’t count the times I have experienced this to one degree or another. Most people have. It turns out that I (we) have no control over what others think and do. Imagine that. Sometimes we are all in sync and other times, it seems, on two different planets. This is the case, in spite all our efforts to express, explain or exhibit our worthy and laudable behavior. So, it seems to me we have two choices, either waste a ton of emotional energy in reaction or remember what one of my favorite tee-shirt mottos says: It isn’t about you. Well, maybe sometimes it is a little bit but the same principle still applies. People who, under most circumstances, would not, if they thought of you at all, do the least mean thing to you, will sometimes effect you in hurtful ways.

What may be most frustrating is that nothing can be done about it.  One could have email addresses or phone numbers and even possibilities of face-to-face confrontations but all the argument and explanation in the world won’t really change anything. It is, as the trite phrase goes, what it is. That being the case, forget it and go on to something more fun, an NFL game on TV or a nap!

P.S. Women like the one on the train have it right. So, guys, leave them completely alone unless you get an authentic invitation from them.

 

A few vital minutes in the morning

“Jane and I have always professed different philosophies about language: she will use meditation while I use prayer for the same set of words.”
-Mark Belletini in the Forward to Jane Ranney Rzepka’s FROM ZIP LINES TO HOSAPHONES

As soon as my Macbook comes alive every morning and I sign into my Gmail, I read three daily posts.

Most of the time, the first one is Today’s Gift, a subscription from Hazelden, the famous treatment center based in Center City, Minnesota but now with locations around the country. These are excerpts from a variety of 12 Step daily meditation books.

Then I usually go to the Stillspeaking Daily Devotional, meditations written by a very down-to-earth and wise group of United Church of Christ ministers.

Finally (I should say “for now”) I open up the Daily Compass, readings submitted by Quest for Meaning, the Church of the Larger Fellowship, Unitarian Universalist Association.

Sounds like a major task, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t. I would guess that even with pauses to think about what I just read, it may use up 10 minutes of what time I would probably just waste playing Bubble Witch Saga on Facebook anyhow. That little bit of time could be compared with brushing my teeth or showering, things I need to do to maintain my body. These emails are in fact things I need to do to maintain my soul.

This is not all that meritorious. I am not in the least trying act holier than thou. What I am saying should be pretty obvious: there are certain exercises that I must do or things deteriorate. I hope this mental or spiritual activity each day helps keep me emotionally balanced, maybe even make a little progress.

What are these readings anyhow? Are they religious, maybe propaganda or just more of the flood of Internet postings? Are they meditations, words of guidance, centering readings or….? They help me so what difference does it make? I don’t care what they are called if I find the needed nourishment.

Counting to 10 (No, really…)

In the last couple of weeks I have received some communications that I reacted to with more anger than I remember having in a long time. This is not good, being mad feels terrible.

It is also dangerous to the soul. Thus, the motto found on some church basement walls: “HALT: Never get too hungry, too angry, too lonely or too tired”, which cautions I often ignore.  The hungry part is there because who can eat while storming around screaming and threatening whoever I think caused it. Then, that kind of behavior is definitely anti-social and lonely. Finally, tiring, leaving me ragged and dragging. Sorta makes the case for putting up the poster in a prominent  place for meeting goers to see.

Words of advice in these situation is often “Count to 10.” However, if you want that to work remember to go very slowly or maybe better, “shampoo, rinse and repeat” ’cause the first time through probably won’t do the trick. It doesn’t for me anyhow.

When I finally get there I remember a couple of important things: 1) Inconsiderate people do mean and hateful things to others on a regular basis and 2) I don’t have to sacrifice that much emotional energy raging against their idiocy.

Oh yeah, I should mention, from their perspective they think they are justified. So doing battle with them is even more foolish.