It’s tough out there. H. told me that on his way to the taxi stand at the airport last night there was so much car honking that he felt anxious and wanted to react in some way — to shout at the honkers, to admonish them for creating such a cacophony. Of course he didn’t. He is not that way.
I’m ashamed to admit that sometimes I am that way. I have attempted, for most of my adult life, to be measured in my approach to how I deal with the world, but the world has sometimes gotten the better of me and I have responded to its harshness with my own, stirred up from the depths of a less than solid sense of place and belonging. Stirred up by fear. I have lacked the equanimity that I have simultaneously craved. I have mistakenly thought that a blow deserves a blow back, a scowl deserves a smart, shaming retort, knee-jerk opinions deserve a shouting down. Meh. I’m learning. Some battles you fight, and some battles you refuse.
These days I’m much more interested in what happens if I let it pass. What would happen if I learned to breathe, to center myself, to be kind to myself and quiet my own fears about what occurs outside of my skin and let idiots just be idiots without input from me? It certainly won’t change anything about what’s going on past my fingertips. But maybe it will change what happens inside of me. I did a google search on forgiveness. One article suggested a mantra of, “I decide to let these things go.” I have written that sentence down every day for months now. Maybe as a result of that simple action or maybe not, I am much more interested in how light a touch I can bring to something now IF I can remember to manage my own knee jerk. I know what a forceful one will bring. The language we use these days — kill it, crush it — no, no, no. That all sounds like something I don’t want to do.
I’m thinking about this a lot right now. This time of year brings us so much pressure and stress — I’m trying to refuse to participate in that this year. I want to have a smile on my face and not have it be tightened by tension. I want to not react without thinking or do without intention. I think it might all be okay if I don’t manage to get the perfect gift for someone or provide the ultimate instagrammable experience for those I’m sharing the holidays with. I will do some cooking, some ordering, some whipping up of tablescapes and lighting schemes, but I want so badly to do it with lightness, happiness, and no have to. Have to creates a lot of not want to for me. Maybe I’m just stubborn that way. Regardless, I know my triggers. I know in which direction my personal river flows. I won’t be able to change the trajectory, but I’ve had enough of it rushing through, over, and past like it has a dam to break somewhere up ahead.
A compassionate consideration, a thoughtful and empathetic response, or maybe even no response at all sounds like an easier way to go than using a hammer on every supposed nail. Life is hard. Why should I be hard too?
Happy Monday, Y’all.
PS — I have one tip to offer. If you find you’re becoming anxious or irritated, picture the person who’s doing the offending as a two-year-old. Then picture them gone for good. Reset. Might come in handy these next ten days or so…
Photo credit: Kristen Barlowe