Saturday, August 23, 2008

What I Can't Resist

I’m playing a game with myself where I try not to get carried away by my moods all day long. Right now I’m in a foul mood and thinking all kinds of uncharitable thoughts about my family, nuclear and extended, so I’ve escaped to my bedroom to observe this quietly.

Moodiness and negative thinking are so familiar to me that they feel like coming home. “Come to Mama,” they seem to say. “We’re the ones who really understand you.” Their pull is often irresistible, like the smell of cinnamon rolls baking at Pike Place Market. Follow that smell! You know you want to. It seems to promise comfort, or at least the kind of comfort that falling back into an old pattern brings for awhile.

My ego wants me to believe that things are always other people’s fault. That way it can feel superior and separate, which are its primary goals. It wants me to believe that I am the hardest working member of this family and I have every right to throw tantrums.

But that is all a story. Pema Chodron talks about how we all have a storyline about ourselves that we like to follow. We wake up every day and our egos kick into gear, recreating that story, which leads us by the nose because we think that’s all we are: some story. Today my story goes something like this: I am so much more together than half the people in this family and it’s really a shame that I have to put up with their incompetence.

Now that I’m sitting here observing my thoughts, they are losing their bite. They actually sound goofy. None of the storylines I’m creating right now are even true. So what next? What am I supposed to do with my addled mind and my bad mood?
I guess look at the mood. Say yes to its existence. Hi, here you are again. Let the irritation, indignation – whatever emotional maelstrom my ego has dreamed up to protect itself – dissipate.

Failing that, I will look at design magazines until I have to go downstairs and clean the kitchen.

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