The Christmas time Pier One commercials caught my fancy. A lone shopper, usually female, stands before an attractively arrayed display, mulling over a potential choice. Finally, one of the items becomes animated, speaking in lilting tones, describing how the item might look on the shopper’s side board or wall. Customer glances over her shoulder, then smiles and selects the item. Voice over: “Find what speaks to you.”
I started this quest for complaint-free living after my dear mother-in-law died. My life has often been stressful, up and down, roller-coaster rocky, first plunging then lifting to the sky. Shortly after her death, I received diagnosis of SVT which thankfuly is not life-shortening but will require a cardiac ablation which for me carries a somewhat higher risk than most people would face, due to a clotting disorder and a nuero-transmission deficit. I had striven for calm in my life for a long time, and renewed that quest towards the end of last year when the cardiologist counseled stress-free clean living.
One of the more difficult components of creating calm is controlling my own response to choices other people make in how they behave and speak. I’ve been challenged by this for decades. I seem to personify the knee-jerk reaction. Accuse me, I’ll accuse you back. Tease me, I lash right out at you. Push my button and the arm comes down on your head. Stimulus, response. I rival Pavlov’s dog in proving the theory.
Foregoing complaint seems like an easy task but I’ve found it more difficult than I had anticipated. I’ve learned that “complain” is synonymous for “defend your position”. If you are wrong, I am right. If I am wrong, you are right. If you displease me, you are wrong, and therefore, I am right. Viciious circle. I do all right with avoiding this process until my emotions run high, and then the old pattern engages. I dog-paddle faster then swim away, treading water, looking for the calm, away from choppy waters.
When emotions subside, when I am alone, in the quiet and still of a space of peace, I realize that the old way no longer speaks to me. Its frantic dance does not excite me, does not capture me in its rhythm and sweep me along the boardwalk. I’m standing, looking at my choices, waiting for something to present itself — a new way of being, a brighter outlook. Both frightening and fascinating, the change looms. I feel as though I’ve got an empty charge card and a plethora of merchandise, all peering at me, hopeful, waiting for me to hear what they have to say.
I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, the fish still hangs on the door, and I’m still putting my best foot forward.