Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Reaction

It's interesting to me how quickly I react.

Today at work there was a situation where I got in trouble for something that was- objectively- not my fault at all.

My negativity got to work on it right away, exaggerating, complaining, feeding fuel to the fire. I mentioned it to several co-workers, crabbing about how ridiculous it was.

I'm like this all the time. Emotional reactions- negative ones, that is- are very powerful, very convincing, and they tend to run the entire show as soon as they make their appearance on stage. They usually get out there unscripted, before the director has a chance to say anything, and damned if they don't determine the course of the whole play from that moment on. It may have started out as a comedy, or a simple drama, but before you know it it's tragedy- the emotions always want what the Germans call "Grosse Theater," that is, "grand theater."

In this particular case, almost before I knew it, my emotions were front and center suggesting extreme and ridiculous "solutions" to the matter- all of them, by the way, intensely stupid and damaging.

This would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that I know from past experience that every once in a while, if there isn't anyone sober sharing the stage with the hysterical fool, these idiot ideas get acted on. Very high-maintenance- and extremely unnecessary- disasters ensue.

Luckily, every once in a while, someone else shows up on stage with my emotional circus, watching the whole sordid affair with an intelligent sense of skepticism.

Today's uproar wasn't so awful because, first of all, I saw what was going on and was able to go against it a little, and also because in the end I saw that the whole thing wasn't such a big deal. I had to apply the "it's not so bad, really" filter to the situation several times in order to back down off the emotional ramp I was building. That filter really can help in a practical way. Today was one of those days.

The emotions are very quick, and they exaggerate everything. They tend to lie to me about most things- that is to say, the information they provide is self serving, partial, one-sided, and unreliable. It's true as far as it goes, but not often true in a helpful way. Emotions are like the song of the lorelei: they make a beautiful "sound" that lures me right onto the rocks and then they eat me. So when we use the phrase "consumed by passion," what we mean by it is in some ways literally true.

My life is food and I am supposed to be eating that food, carefully, intelligently, sensitively. When I am negative, partial, and fully invested in emotional reaction, however, my life starts to consume me.

This means that most of the time I am being eaten instead of eating. As I look around me I see that we are all prettyt much like that. It's another example of the inversion we create in life, where everything that is supposed to be coming in goes out, and vice versa. Day to day, we are bleeding from so many psychic wounds that we don't know where to apply the bandages first.

Triage involves self observation. We can't fix any holes in our inner state unless we learn to stand back anfd look for the leaks.

2 comments:

  1. I am a Buddhist too and I love your blog because it contains so much wisdom that is applicable in everyone's life.

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  2. Thanks! I try to draw what I write from immediate experience... when I can :-)

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