Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hello Grump, my little friend...

Blue sky, golden streaks of sun, cool pine trees and snowy mountains.

The air is dry and delicately sweet.

It's so beautiful here today. I'm so fortunate to enjoy a full view of a mountain stream and several peaks out of the large window (that opens!) in my private office. I'm so fortunate to have free classical music all day from my $15 radio. I'm so fortunate be able to look forward to a 20 mile bike ride after work on a quiet, tree-lined road where drivers are considerate of cyclists.

Days like this is why we put up with the snow and ice and mud and winter isolation.

Literally, the birds are singing in unison.

But none of this beauty, none of this incredible luxury means anything to me today. I feel grumpy. There's no clear reason for it. I slept enough, exercised enough, ate well. No one's done or said anything unpleasant to me. I'm not sick. I just feel grumpy.

I've been working on simply being there with the grumpiness. It's an arising. I'm not owning it. I've greeted it properly, and asked it to sit down next to me so I can take a look at it. But I'm not seeing a whole lot. That's progress, I suppose. In the past, my habit was to take the grumpiness at face value, as a signal that something is seriously amiss with my life. I would stress, and whine, and start to pick apart all of my commitments, goals, dreams and values, trying to figure out what I needed to tweak in order to make the grumpiness go away.

I'd find something, of course. Then I would proceed to make a list, a plan, and start to feel really good because the grumpiness was replaced by a sense of progress. At least I'm not wallowing! I'm going somewhere! And that new somewhere is a better place than the old somewhere I was going pre-grump, because the place I am going now is such that all the grump has been ironed out along the way. Elation!

Never mind that the real reason I felt better is that I had given in to my impatience and inability to be with myself. Of course, the feeling better would only last until the next bout of grump (or anger, or sadness, or some other uncomfortable emotion). As soon as another emotion became uncomfortable, I'd create a story to explain it, and do something (anything!) to make it go away.

Here's an example: I'd feel sad on a Sunday evening. Then I'd start to think of all the Sunday evenings that I didn't feel sad. If family members happened to be present in the memories I was recalling, I'd start to think that my family is what made Sunday evenings happy. Then I'd create a story about how my sadness is actually missing my family (who live a plane ride away), and how clearly moving away was a bad decision, and how I'm taking my family for granted by living so far away. Now, on top of the sadness, I'm feeling guilty and stupid. And then I'd make myself feel better by discounting all my previous decisions and planning out my imminenet move back home.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

So, here I am today. Day so beautiful, it's almost silly. All sorts of prior causes and conditions have come together to enable me to enjoy this day; we all know it could easily be my last, etc. And I'm grumpy. And it's okay. Sometimes folks are grumpy. Through practice, I understand that it the grump will go away eventually, and by giving in to my irritation and impatience, I'll only make the whole situation worse - I'll turn an uncomfortable emotional arising into suffering.
And whaddya know? After muttering that last sentence to myself over and over again for the past hour while looking out the window, I finally cracked a smile - if only at the absurdity of our collective condition. We're the only beings who, upon finding ourselves in heaven, tend to turn around and say, "Nah. This isn't it." And descend right back into hell.

No comments:

Post a Comment