Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Unabashed Unpleasing Ululations

Last Saturday, F. and I saw Marguerite, about a rich music lover in France whose singing voice is execrable but who is humored in her aspirations due to her ability to make large financial contributions. Afterward, F. suggested taking one of the historical trolley cars up Market, which was really a treat, with a brisk, refreshing breeze coming in the window. At home, F. cooked us potatoes and eggs for dinner.

When he arrived the evening before, he made a hurtful remark on a topic he has specifically been advised to avoid. On the whole, I think he withstands many more critical remarks in this relationship than I do. Nonetheless, I told him it bothered me and he immediately became offended by my being “overly sensitive.” As in many prior cases, I was furious that he got to both make a mean remark and also somehow to be the injured party.

But instead of trying to achieve victory via verbal battle, or at least argue him to a draw over it, I thought about it for a bit and said I would like to have a conversation in which my goal was for him to understand why the remark hurt my feelings, and also for me to understand anything he felt I was not grasping. The conversation was brief and I felt that he did understand. I asked if there was anything he would like me to understand, and he said there wasn’t, though he seemed rather morose the rest of the evening and, for that matter, the whole next day.

However, that’s his problem. It has not proven in the past to be constructive to try to do anything to alter his moods (duh), let alone have an argument about why he has no right to be in a bad mood. I also reflected that I have never once seen either of my parents try to change the other’s mood. I’ve seen one of them take care not to further inflame a stressed or irritated spouse, but they really just let each other be for the most part. Can I be in a good mood even if F. is in a bad mood? Sure. So I did that. And it was also much better to seek understanding rather than to try to win an argument on Friday night, so I count the weekend as a success: I saw a good movie, I enjoyed a bracing breeze in a picturesque trolley car, I ate delicious potatoes and eggs, I went to Rainbow, I listened to On the Media, I did my cooking chores, I got a bunch of reading done.

I have finished Ron Chernow’s utterly splendid biography of George Washington. Something very sad happens at the end! (I won’t spoil it for you.) I have now started
Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton (upon which the highly popular musical was based), which promises to be equally good, and I’m reading a couple of the books I acquired for the chaplaincy course at the Sati Center. In most cases, we read only certain chapters, so I am now reading two particularly pertinent books in their entirety: The Arts of Contemplative Care, edited by Cheryl A. Giles and Willa B. Miller, and Buddhist Care for the Dying and Bereaved, edited by Jonathan S. Watts and Yoshiharu Tomatsu.
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