I have a memory from when I was around 4 years old where we had an old Buick as big and heavy as a tank! Mom was learning how to drive… from Dad! I bounced around in the back seat as Mom tried to get the hang of letting the clutch out smoothly, often resulting in us lurching our way down the street! We were bucking along as we crossed a tall bridge with Dad nagging Mom about how to let the clutch out correctly. All of sudden Mom slammed the car to a stop, grabbed her purse, got out, and starting walking away towards the other end of the bridge! Dad was yelling from the front passenger seat for Mom to get back in the car while I sat in the back befuddled! Eventually Dad slid over and got behind the wheel. We slowly kept pace with Mom as he tried to cajole her back into the car, which she eventually did.
Sometimes our own behavior puzzles us, leaving us wondering “Where the heck did that come from?” In regard to the car incident I am sure that Mom had been wanting for some time to tell Dad to back off! At least part of the problem is because we rehearse scenarios within ourselves which ultimately break out into exterior behavior! We indulge in secret scenarios of vengeance for both real and imaginary hurts. These scenarios prime our anger, leaving us ready to “get back” at the slightest provocation!
We have now begun a new year, a new beginning, a chance to start over. Now is the time to tackle just one aspect about ourselves that consistently trips us up. One thing we can do is to try and catch ourselves when we are indulging in a scenario of revenge and refuse to dwell upon it. The problem with the human reality is that we cannot just shove one thing out of our consciousness without replacing it with something else. So now is the time to start practicing replacing vengeance with wishing others well, thereby priming us for kindness towards others.
I know someone who has the uncanny ability of being able to push my buttons! Sometimes it’s an arch tone in an email, sometimes it is a word or gesture that just skirts along the edge between acceptable and rude. I have often caught myself steaming as I thought about what I should have said or done! One day I finally realized that out of the two of us I am the only one that I can do something about! So even while she still is and does the same as she always has I have learned to deliberately not allow myself to engage in interior revenge scenarios. Instead I try to cultivate the desire to wish her only well. And make no mistake about it… even though a desire may not come either naturally or easily, desire can be cultivated!
At the beginning of this New Year the question for us becomes “What desires am I cultivating this year?”