I’m penning this week’s sermon off the cuff. That is not the worst idea, nor is it the worst thing that can happen. At the very least, what I’m about to say will have a sort of raw immediacy to it that a cultivated post will not.
See, ideally I would have written this in a word processor yesterday and looked it over before posting. I’d see where I had said something a little unclear, or remembered something I wanted to get across, used a fine-tooth comb to weed out typos and cliches, that sort of thing.
But this week, I didn’t.
Ordinarily when that happens, I’ll put up a Zen Bite as a “Midweek Meditation” so that you have something to think about, that isn’t put together as it’s being posted.
But this week, I didn’t do that either.
The reason for that is because I think it’s important to say why I didn’t do these things, and even more important to say what I did about it.
I didn’t do fuck-all yesterday.
Why? Because I was pissed right off.
The reason for that is nothing new. It’s the usual total negation I get from some of the people who are closest to me. (In proximity if not in heart.) You know the sort of thing: you greet someone but instead of returning the greeting they just start telling you what problem they’re having that you need to fix. Then they talk over your sentences while you try to sort their problem out (since that’s more legal than slapping them), because on top of not being worth greeting, you’re not worth listening to.
It’s all about validation. We as a species tend to look for it outside of ourselves. That’s why we accumulate belongings. It’s why we get into relationships. It’s even why we have sex, relationship or not. These things are all forms of validation.
Showing someone courtesy and respect is a form of validation. So is withholding courtesy and respect. When people treat you like a sack of wet dogshit, it is because they know no other way to experience validation. They can’t feel “up” unless somebody else (aka you) are “down.” For some people, “upness” is a finite resource: someone else being up means that they’re lower. It’s hyperparanoid nonsense, but if you try to explain that they’ll only get angry and retaliate, because truth is infuriating to people who live in a delusion.
Top tip: don’t be that guy. It’s not helping you. At best it’s a superficial fix, like when cold “medicine” stops your nose running but allows the cold virus itself to continue running around your bloodstream like a bratty toddler with a pair of flaming scissors.
Now, it is possible to provide your own validation. In a way, this is one of the definitions of “enlightenment.” Buddhists, some Hindus and all sorts of assorted gurus keep driving home the principle of non-attachment, and this is why. When you keep thinking that validation comes from external sources like belongings and people, you’ll never even look for it in yourself, much less be able to come up with it.
Most of the time I remember this. Sometimes I don’t.
Like yesterday. (See? It does all tie together.)
Invalidation is an anger-producing substance. Gives it off like Kryptonite radiation.
One in a while, you have to wash it off.
You do that by getting angry.
Like I did yesterday. And that’s why I didn’t do fuck-all yesterday, because I know myself, and I knew nothing else was going to get done, or even be possible, until I waded through this negative emotion. I raged a bit and did the things I do to shunt and channel such feelings when they happen, and it took all goddamn day, and I made no progress on anything else.
Do I look back on this in shame and disappointment, lamenting a whole day wasted, with no forward progress?
Because I feel better now. Now I can move forward.
When you ride through your life, storms are going to happen. When you ride on the road and a storm comes up, you look for shelter. If there is no shelter, you either pull over and wait, or you plow through as best you can. Either way, it’s not comfortable, it’s not fun, and whether you ride it out or wait it out, Mother Nature is dressing you up as a drowned rat for the school play, and that’s a terrible role on the opposite end of the spectrum from a dramatic lead.
But that’s a good thing.
You’re not always going to be the dramatic lead. You need to play the drowned rat sometimes, so that you know what it feels like, and have a little empathy for other drowned rats.
Whether you can feel that or not, the storm is going to happen.
Because the storm needs to happen. Atmospheric or emotional, conditions create consequences.
You ever try to keep a thunderstorm in a bottle? All you end up with is a lot of glass shrapnel.
Let the storm happen.
When things make you angry, be angry.
When things make you sad, be depressed.
When you wait out a storm, it will eventually pass over. When you ride it out, eventually you will ride out of it. Unless you turn around and ride back into the damn thing, eventually you will dry off and see a big ol’ double rainbow.
It might be nice to not ever be angry or sad at all. The fact that I can’t do this is one of the reasons I call myself a “Zen Lunatic” instead of a “Zen Master.” The fact that I’m not sure if it would be nice to never be angry or sad is another reason.
Storms have a way of clearing the air, you see.
Let ’em happen.
Hell, if you send up a kite with an iron key attached to the string, you might even get something practical out of it. Storms are energy. You can waste it, you can use it.
But you can’t stop it. And you wouldn’t want to try.