Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's Just An Illusion

First of all -- did you read my Monday post about the Dragon Mom? If you didn't, scroll down right now and read it.  I didn't write it, and it's truly life changing stuff.

Moving on: I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that I've been slowly working my way through "Awareness", a book by Tony DeMello, SJ. It's slow going, and for the best of reasons -- each page has so much stuff to ponder, anytime I start to move too quickly I feel like I'm missing the best stuff.  I actually find it a nice way to pray some mornings; I center myself listening to the breeze, and then I read a page or two and sit with whatever it stirs in me.

So yesterday I was in a section entitled "Our Illusion About Others".  Here's the jist of it -- You know how sometimes people disappoint you? Well, DeMello says, take a look at yourself.  Are you perfect? Do you have it together? Did you manage to get through the day without any sort of sin? How about half the day? How about the time it takes to drink your cup of coffee?

If you didn't do so well, why would you expect anyone else will be any different?

Sit with that question for a minute and it will change your life.  Really.


DeMello's point isn't self-fingerwagging -- Bad me! Bad me! He's trying to snap us out of a habit of mind that leads to all sorts of unnecessary (in fact silly) unhappiness.  Think of the energy you waste on being disappointed. Seriously, I could power the Christmas lights of Los Angeles year round with it.  Then add the disappointments that aren't day to day, you know, like when you run into someone you haven't seen in 10 years, and there's old history there that you can't even remember, but you know they hurt you, so all of a sudden you're disappointed in/mad at them again.

Or even better -- I love it when I do this -- someone simply mentions the name of someone that you haven't thought about in years, but who disappointed you, and you feel that TWANG of resentment again.  I mean, how many kinds of crazy is that?

I've tried many times to address these situations in what looks like the direct manner -- that is, to ask God to help me forgive them.  Not a bad tack. But DeMello's approach instead turns the camera on me. And oy, does that disrupt the judgments.

And oy, does it allow us all to be a little less uptight, a little less counting the costs, and a lot more free.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you seen this? There seem to be several variants, but I find the subtle (or not so) message about perspective to be powerful. Maybe it's just me.