In my ever-present practice of bringing my mind back from the cliffs of craziness, I keep noticing how it just wants to scuttle off into blame. I mean, let’s face it, it’s so much easier to have “it” be someone else’s fault. For ten minutes.
Last week, we were in Hawaii for a few days. It was beautiful and balmy (and I was slightly cranky from jet lag and no sleep). But as the days wore on, I kept watching my mind go skidding into misery, despite the beauty and the balminess.
My usual way (or the way most familiar to me as I was growing up) is/was to blame myself. “If only I hadn’t done this, that that wouldn’t be happening.” Or: “ I can’t believe I did that again. Of course, it turned out so badly.” (The harshness, the recrimination, the GPS From the Twilight Zone of it all. Ouch).
But somehow, last week, I found myself blaming other people. Someone I’d hired wanted to wiggle out of our contract together. Someone else had not done what was promised. I found myself being one of the “perpetually aggrieved,” as Eckhart Tolle calls the people on the internet who feel as if it’s their job to criticize anything, even, he says, the statement that ‘love is good.”
I started thinking about the part of myself that is perpetually aggrieved. That is ready to pick a fight with anyone who crosses me. (Crossing me basically means that they do something I’d rather that they not do. Or don’t do something I thought they were going to do. Crossing me means that my discomfort level is raised and I have to stop and look and see what’s going on. Interact. Speak up. Or be curious about the difference in our expectations. It’s hard to be in any kind of relationship with anyone—husband, dog, friend, colleague—and not be in some kind of disagreement/discomfort some of the time. It’s the nature of relationship that it necessarily includes an other who is not controlled by us. Darn).
Anyway, as nothing was wrong in my immediate environment (quite the contrary), I couldn’t help but notice that my mind just loves getting worked up about something. My mind seems to feel that it doesn’t have a job unless something is wrong, unless it’s against a situation or a person. Minds like making and building cases. My mind’s main job—when it’s not being used to think or write or read or talk—is to be perpetually aggrieved. It gives it something to do. But of course, the downside is that it causes suffering. It keeps me separate from other people. It keeps my heart closed. And, it takes my attention away from what’s happening now. This step. This patch of sky. This soft breeze. This fragrance. This touch. This breath.
Does it ever end? Do I or we ever stop practicing coming back to this and this and this. It doesn’t matter. Because the act of noticing the rant, the blame, the puffed up-ness is the act of returning to this step, this breath. And I can’t think of anything better to do.