Thelonious and her mother. No, there is not a white kidney-shaped thing in my hair. That is empty space and that is the natural shape of my hair. I guess this kind of thing is why people buy Photoshop.
Along with my improved cat diarrhea cleanup protocol, I have also implemented a new friendliness protocol, which involves ten minutes per day of metta practice (followed by 30 minutes of concentration practice, which is not directly part of the friendliness protocol).
It has been my custom to silently say metta phrases as I do certain activities, like filling a glass or bottle with water, or walking up stairs, one syllable to a step: “May all beings be happy and be free from fear,” for instance, gets me from one landing to the next at work.
I have just started doing the same when I walk around outside and am finding it extremely relaxing, plus outside the Container Store it briefly felt like I was losing contact with the earth, or perhaps it was a touch of vertigo, which can happen now and then.
When annoyance arises, I note my thoughts in detail: Having the thought that this person might in the next few moments do such-and-such. Having the thought that that will be annoying and then I will say this, that and the other. Oh, having the thought that the person didn’t in fact do such-and-such.
Having the thought that it is very irritating that this person is standing in the doorway through which I would like to exit right now. Cannot this person see I am standing here?
A huge number of my irritable thoughts begin with, “This person can see I am …” This person can see I am trying to get down the street here. This person can see I was approaching the water fountain.
So, anyway, having the thought that this person is very irritating because he is standing in my way. Having the thought that this is a bad person, and therefore deserving of my unfriendliness.
It’s kind of mortifying to see some of this, but it also affords the opportunity to inquire if I’m sure my thoughts are right.
This person might actually be very nice even if he’s standing near the elevator and even if he made a clicking noise.
Sometimes the irritation dissipates merely through being seen clearly. But if not, and this is the beauty of this plan, all I have to do is keep noting my thoughts, which, if nothing else, somewhat turns my attention from the object of my awareness to the process of awareness itself. Even if the irritation doesn’t lessen right away, I’m probably not so likely to give voice to it in a way I’ll regret later.
I did, unfortunately, yell at a pedestrian the other day. Jaywalking from between two cars, he walked right into me. Had I been moving faster, I would probably have fallen. My immediate startled reaction included an expletive or two.
He seemed very regretful, but then he remembered his rights and said, “Pedestrians have the right of way.” This caused me to remember my rights, and I’m afraid I said, in part, “Use the [expletive deleted] crosswalk, moron.”
He looked frozen and descended into the BART station without further comment. I felt quite awful about it right away, as he did look like a decent fellow, and posted an apology on Craigslist, which was about all I could do.
However, one thing to ponder is that one of the reasons the highly unkind phrase popped so readily out of my mouth is that it had been practiced mentally countless times, so part of the new protocol is to abandon saying that kind of thing even to myself.
By chance, I also have a new financial protocol, which is to wait until payday to buy anything that falls into the miscellaneous category that I don’t really need right away or that isn’t truly a minor purchase, and then to use money left over from the previous payday, and if there is no money left over from the previous payday, not to buy the thing.
To keep on track, I am writing down each day in my calendar exactly how much money I have left in this category.
This replaces the previous practice of having no idea how much money I have left, buying everything I feel like buying and then having a shortfall come payday which must be filled in with funds I would otherwise have invested in hopes of a plush retirement.
I love the feeling of knowing I am not going to overspend in this category, the last frontier, where vagueness can so easily rule.
Plus, by the time payday rolled around, I had concluded I didn’t really even want or need the things I had been waiting until then to buy.