We all know not to get into Xavier’s way when his desires have been thwarted. I once watched him trying to open a kitchen drawer that had become stuck, most likely from a utensil in the drawer that had moved into an odd position. Xavier tugged and cursed until, finally screaming “WHY ME?!!!” he yanked the front of the drawer so hard that it came off and flew across the kitchen! There was the time when, after tee many martoonies at the bar, his key would not open his front door. No matter what position he put the key in it would not work. Finally bellowing “WHY ME?!!!” he jammed the key into the lock; it still did not work AND he then couldn’t get the key back out! He finally had to call a locksmith at 2am to come and rescue him. Did you know that locksmiths will charge you $200 to make an early-morning call to inform you that you had been using the wrong key? And then there was that serious incident in which his cat was thrown through the front window; when it landed in the road, dead, a neighbor called animal control and Xavier was arrested! None of us even needed to be there to know that as they hauled him away he was wailing in the back seat of the cruiser: “WHY ME?!!!”
We all have frustrations and, to varying degrees, we all have temper-tantrums, although for most of us we recognize when the anger is becoming a bit too hot! But even if we don’t wail “WHY ME?!!!” aloud, we still sometimes take the stance of a victim and wonder why the cosmos has singled us out! At such a moment we invest all sorts of energy into resisting what has already happened! At such moments I often recall a saying by Hazrat Inayat Khan: “God breaks the heart again and again until it stays open.” What this says to me is that instead of resisting what has occurred it would be better for me to accept that this unpleasantness has happened and to then try to find some meaning in the event. Perhaps, through this event, The Divine is trying to pry my miserly heart and mind open? Perhaps my ignorance about myself created the circumstances that facilitated my misfortune? Perhaps there is something in this occurrence for me to learn?
The fact is that Reality does not care what we feel about it or its demands upon us; when we are a hostage to our narcissism this truth may not be readily apparent to us. If we deliberately develop the habit of dealing with what reality demands of us, when it demands it, our compliance with it can sometimes untie the knot of our feelings and give us insights into the situation, and even into the mysterious workings of our conflicted heart.
Seeing Xavier’s loss of self-control so many times I used to console myself by thinking, “At least I’m better than that.” However, just because I don’t break something or scream does not mean that I am cooperating with what reality requires of me. I have come to believe that the events of my life are not just random mis-firings of the universe, but rather are words that The Divine is speaking to me about the state of my heart. It’s easy to be a saint when there’s nothing on the line; it is when something costs us the asceticism of self-control that we get to see who we are and what we are willing to do. Or not do.