Sitting in Judgement

The last couple of weeks have been ridiculously hectic - it seemed that Mercury retrograde moved smoothly and seamlessly into whatever astrological phenomena is responsible for a mass epidemic of idiocy. Truly. There were several days last week where the barrage of idiots (and their attendant emotional upset) took over every day, to the point where last Friday, I moved so fast I got as much done in five hours as I normally would have in two full days and in retrospect, going into hyperdrive like that is a really good sign that I'm about to crash. Of course, I never realized it until I hit the skids in a rather remarkable fashion and the combination of having to help fix several situations rightnowthisveryinstant and a particularly busy list (some weeks, there is no prioritizing, some weeks all of it is really necessary) created a really weird situation.

By Monday, I felt walled up to the point of not being able to connect properly to others, seeing the world through a thick wall of glass where everything was muted, everything was distant, everyone I knew looked a little like a stranger. To be honest, it was more than a little freaky, but then I figured out that the walls were a last-ditch attempt to protect myself, that I had crashed, so I called in sick to my life, took pictures of flowers and slowly found myself again. It also helped that thanks to an adolescent male driver sharing his music collection with the rest of the neighborhood, I remembered the healing power of good metal, got Enter Sandman from iTunes and cranked it while singing along at the top of my lungs. More than once. Trust me, it works. A few times, I've actually cured migraines by listening to thrash metal - not deliberately at first (my sister used to have friends who had a band), but it sure can blast your brain clean.

And then on Tuesday, I received my usual forward of daily Buddhist wisdom from my mother (who receives it from Beliefnet) and it said

"He who treads the Path in earnest sees not the mistakes of the world; If we find fault with others We ourselves are also in the wrong."
- The Sutra of Hui Neng

Sometimes, it's like being hit over the head with a 2x4.

I used to practice a sort of adapted form of Buddhism more than I do now. It was a great help when I was in a lot of pain, but these days, now that I don't need it so much anymore, I seem to have forgotten. The rush of life has made it hard to slow down enough to think it through as much as would probably be good for me. And being too busy to practice, I'd forgotten that leading with kindness isn't just for people in pain, people in need, but for the people who annoy me, too.

And it's not that I was rude to these people - I dealt with them and the situations with the professionalism and civility I usually exhibit, because to be anything but when you're committing things in writing is just plain shortsighted (especially when you have an ongoing working relationship with aforementioned idiots). It was the way I felt about them, it was the ranting I did when I called up a friend and asked for a stress sponge moment, believing that having that rant would allow the stress to leave my body. But I'm not sure it did. I'm not sure that the buildup of negative emotion that started with me naming the individuals in question idiots, continued with resenting how they occupied so much of my time that should've been spent on other things and ended with ranting more than once about the whole thing didn't cause more damage to myself than the idiots themselves did and contributed significantly to the crash.

Where were my choices in this situation? Aside from the particulars like how based on my history with this particular organization, I could've foreseen that doublechecking information would not be sufficient, had I taken a moment to step back, to breathe and to choose deliberately, I may still had ended up devoting several days of my week to the frustration, but would I have been as resentful? Did I lose control the moment where in my frustration, I started using a term as judgmental as idiots? Is that the moment where I blindly started using my energy overdraft? And how much of that overdraft had I used on thinking and ranting about the situation?

In retrospect, I vaguely remember thinking I didn't have time for this, didn't have the energy, but it's hard to hear the warning bells when you're moving really fast. It occurs to me that since I didn't listen to myself, didn't pay enough attention, maybe I am the one who is an idiot, however, over the past few years, I've learned the hard way that being judgmental of yourself is just as damaging as judging others.

This was a reminder. A reminder to move more slowly, a reminder to take those extra 30 seconds to take a deep breath and plan carefully. And most of all, a reminder that leading with kindness is not just for the people who “deserve it” and that it cannot be done on autopilot.

p.s. I have no idea what's with the font, why it changed and why it changed back. I'm working on it.