Letting Go When There’s No Rope Left
I have a friend who is trying to get divorced. This has been going on for two years. The marriage was a good length, (ten years), and a good part of it was not unhappy but the divorce has turned into a nightmare of hatred, accusations, bitterness, anger, paranoia and deep despair on the part of both parties.
There were no children involved, several properties purchased together, and a long stream of expenses for their life paid for by my friend who gave his partner free rein to do what she wanted in terms of the household accounts. By the time he realized most of his money was gone it was too late for reason or recompense: his life had become unbearable as daily verbal abuse had escalated to the point of physical pain. There was no surviving the atmosphere in the house, no love left between the two marital participants, and so my friend left.
His partner filed for divorce immediately and thus began the long history of demands for money, property, shares in imagined earnings, financial reports, tax returns, and appearances in court, depositions and more depositions. Interestingly enough, at this point in time my friend’s net worth had diminished to one tenth that of his wife’s yet she continued to threaten, hire new lawyers, fire old accountants, make new lists about what she wanted, hide possessions from my friend, and make her life’s goal destroying her husband.
Now I ask myself “Why?” If I were in the same position would I behave in the same way? Of course not. I am a reasonable person who likes to work things out and find reasonable solutions to problems. I like to have situations that are emotionally complicated solved as smoothly and expediently as possible as drawing them out only serves to upset one’s health and make oneself look like a fool in the community. People that continually fight over nothing and act in irrational ways are usually ostracized by others and find them alone and unloved in their lives. Who would actively make a choice to live like this?
Why am I writing about this today? I think it’s a really good lesson to all of us about how to destroy your life and your Karma. Holding anger, retribution and bitterness inside yourself is a good mechanism to destroy your own life. I think it does more damage than smoking. Imagine inhaling all that rage each day with every breath and then imagine not being able to release it. Imagine getting into arguments with everyone that surrounds you and then not having any real friends left. Imagine acting in a way that is dangerous to you and to others. Then take a breath and wonder why.
I think people get so caught up in their battles they forget why they began them in the first place. Much like all the needless wars we have been involved with we often can’t remember why we started to hate each other. We forget our compassion towards others and towards ourselves. We exist on our own fear and we can’t even see how it is destroying our lives. We lose all reason and all awareness of our own behavior and become fearful individuals who are living solitary lives as it becomes too risky to trust anyone else.
How many stories out there are like that of my friend? How many people hold on to old stuff as its familiar: pain is familiar. It may not be pleasant but sometimes fear makes us choose the familiar rather than the new as the new cannot be predicted.
I am no angel. Believe me I know that and I am aware of my own failings just as others are. I am writing this to make sense of the situation to me as well as to you as it seems so insane. The only thing I do know to be absolutely true is that operating from a fear based self will ultimately ruin your life and leave you with no friends or family to support you. In the end as they say we die alone but I hope when I die there are people who love me all around who can send me on my way to a new plane with love and joy. After all, there is really nothing else worthwhile in life but love.
Lament to Valentine’s Day
I am not sure why it exists but do realize it has something to do with St Valentine, maybe Cupid, and definitely Hallmark cards. I start to worry about Valentine’s Day a few weeks before it happens. Why do I worry, you might ask? Right. Normal people don’t worry. Normal people just laugh at the reoccurrence of this holiday and sometimes buy chocolate, or send a sappy card, or maybe invite their significant other to dinner and then forget about it.
Single people get stressed! It is another example of how the whole world appears to be in love and you are the only loser who has no one to have dinner with on Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t matter if you have a lot of admirers or even a big support system, being unable to count on a Valentine’s Day date is a problem.
I am in a vacation spot at the moment and it is filled with red, heart shaped objects. I can’t identify the origin of some of them. Most seem faintly pornographic to me. I know this is a bad sign and probably represents a huge jealous streak but it is the absolute truth. I am embarrassed to look into these windows feeling as if I am not entitled to look. I find this a really interesting feeling. I know if you want to find a partner you are supposed to visualize what that would feel and look like in your life. Sometimes it is hard to take this seriously as it gets tiresome. Most things that feel too serious to me are abandoned into humor.
So I have been working on this Valentine’s Day issue and thinking of what it means. I guess to many of us single people holidays remind us anyway of our lack of a partner and this is the worst one. Yes, it’s superficial and ridiculous and faintly pornographic as I said before but it still is bothersome to many. I found that even married people don’t like it as their expectations are often dashed and they are disappointed but unwilling to say anything. This applies to both men and women.
Love is not just a word. It’s a constantly changing force between two people whether mother and child, father and son, husband and wife, or two people who are slowly falling in love. Why do we call it “falling in love”? Think about it. You have the sense of falling and having no control at all. You can’t control the object of your affection nor can you make them behave in the way you think you want them to. In the beginning of a love affair nothing can be counted on, not even reciprocal love. Everything has to go on faith and for most of us this is really hard. The older you get the harder this becomes.
I wish I had an answer but I don’t. I think the only way to approach anything stressful is to remind yourself to detach all the time and to remember that longing or grasping or wanting is only doing harm to yourself. It feels much better to just observe and notice what’s going on and to love whomever you feel like loving without looking for something in return.
I was listening to the radio this morning and hearing Iran and Turkey are trading commodities. Iran is shipping uranium to Turkey in return for more “enriched uranium” for fuel rods to use in medical equipment for cancer research.
This piece of news has been received with some hesitation as it does not signify in any way Iran is giving up its nuclear program. The development of nuclear weaponry will continue in Iran and we should view this with fear as Iran is a country without moral input into its decisions. When Iran has nuclear weapons is when the world is in dire danger of being destroyed. There is no question about this and I am fearful about the lack of control and our inability to regulate anything in this matter.
So many of my readers have written to me agreeing with my negative outlook on the world’s survival as it is now. I am not happy about this agreement. I wish I could find a more positive stand to take but I can’t. It seems there are two sides to this worldwide recession: those who believe it has all happened before and those who sense there has never been anything like this. The ones who sense this time is different come from different age groups and cultures. There is no way to predict what makes one join one side or another. Some of us just know there is a major change happening and are trying not to allow fear get in the way of function. We are trying to live our lives with love in our hearts and compassion in our behavior but it is taking a toll on all of us.
The environment is slowly being destroyed: volcano’s erupting; oil seeping into the Gulf Stream, earthquakes, tornados and typhoons are hitting the world with a vengeance. I prefer not to think of this as a destructive cycle, however, but rather a time of cleansing and change. The old order was not working and a new one is being created. The financial markets will collapse from all the instability and the huge amount of debt almost every country in the world is now subject to. There is no one left who will offer bailouts and no place to keep money that seems relatively safe.
For those of us who live alone, life seems more lonely but also more controllable. I long to find a partner but also love my solitude, particularly at this time. I find I need much more time to meditate and focus so I do not lose my way. I feel easily knocked off my course, easily fooled by the behavior of others, easily mislead by lies. I am trying to tread water with a steady rhythm but it isn’t easy. It becomes easier when I focus on gratitude and sending love to the world. Opening my heart is easy even during this time.
Yesterday I passed an open double-decker bus filled with Asians who were touring San Francisco. The tour director was Hispanic and conducting the tour in English. I stood on the sidewalk and attempted to understand what he was saying for at least two minutes. I couldn’t understand a word. The people in the bus listened very carefully and laughed whenever he did. They seemed entranced.
Sometimes I wish I weren’t so absolute about my own language as maybe life would be more entertaining
I believe that true democracy can only be an outcome of nonviolence. The structure of a world federation can be raised only on a foundation of nonviolence, and violence will have to be totally given up in world affairs.
Stop, look and listen. Remember when we heard those words as kids? Very Buddhist of our parents and Captain Kangaroo.The day passes before we have even put our finger down on the earth. The night passes much more slowly. There are so many people to tell that you love them and so few to hate .Look around this morning. See the sun making shadows and hear the scramble of the mouse, and maybe say a prayer for the sea turtles who are covered with oil.
Bullies and How to treat them
I am writing a lie with the above title as I have no idea how to treat bullies. Actually it is one of the things in life I am working on: my reaction time to bullies. I ran into one at my little gym the other day. Let’s call him “R”. “R” was in the gym when I arrived using the elliptical trainer. I sat down on the exercise bike, put my headphones on, and began my workout. AT first there was calm in this small space as two people worked off their frustrations on exercise machines while reading and listening to whatever. Suddenly all of that changed. “R” received a call on his cell and began to talk about inane stuff in a voice that penetrated my headphones and my brain as well. I felt incredibly annoyed and was unable to focus on my own paper and music. I focused instead on how annoying and rude this behavior was. I thought about how people who use cell phones in places where others are reading or watching TV are really thoughtless. I found myself becoming angrier and angrier. I used most of my Buddhist practices to attempt to overcome this anger. I got nowhere.
At this point I knew I needed to get off the bike and leave the room before I let myself get really mad. I know this sounds ridiculous. I really do. I know I should be able to ignore people who do this kind of thing but I resent people who ignore common courtesy. I believe that we should all live in a respectful manner and it surprises me when I run into people who don’t have the same attitude. It really surprises me when I am in the gym of a private club in Tiburon. What makes me think people should behave better here? Look at Madoff. I bet he belonged to a lot of private clubs.
Anyway, back to that morning…I went to the club office and asked the manager what the cell phone policy was in the club. I was told there wasn’t a specific one but rather one much likes my own idea of how to behave. The club officers thought members would know appropriate behavior.
After learning this you would have thought I would feel vindicated but I returned to the gym and reassembled myself on the bike only to hear “R” address me in a loud voice.
“Is my talking on the cell bothering you?” he asked in a rather belligerent tone.
Here’s where I caved. Instead of simply saying “Yes” and looking him in the eye, I responded “Well, yes, it is, and we do have an unspoken policy that…”
I was interrupted at this point by “R” who said, “I wasn’t asking about unspoken policy, I was asking you whether or not my cell phone was an issue. Well! Yes or no? I don’t need to hear any BS about unspoken policy!!” As he was saying this his voice grew louder and his stance became more aggressive. He was peddling more furiously and I was scared. Here is where I need help. What I should have said was, “Yes, your cell phone conversation bothered me and your behavior now is really out of line!”
I should have said “Does it make you feel powerful and important to bully women?”
I should have said, ““R”! Anger management! That’s all I have to say!
I find it difficult to deal with rude people and I usually avoid them and that is what my next move was. I gathered up my things and left the gym, realizing if I stayed it would have been a battle not to engage with “R”’s angry energy.
In retrospect I am trying not to be hard on myself for not fighting back when people bully me. I know that is the only behavior that stops bullies. I am thinking of signing up for a class in Judo or Karate. I am imagining myself the next time I run into “R” jumping into a ready stance with my hands up ready for the killer hit. Imagining this helps me a lot! I know I will be better prepared next time! I bet “R” will not or at least I hope he won’t. I like to win.
the affection of dogs
paying your bills especially when the payee needs the money
remembering to breathe
making others smile
taking yourself out to where you want to go
knowing where you want to go
admiring other people who are smarter than you
admiring other people for any reason
listening without adding your own experience
learning to just sit there and listen to nothing
giving away a lot of stuff you find you really don’t need.
feeling like you don’t need a lot of stuff
giving away dollar bills to kids for their UNICEF boxes
not reacting when people act in ways that are inappropriate
not reacting to any bad behavior
not looking to see what is in the hand outstretched towards you