On this New Year’s Eve, I have lots of small resolutions I could list: projects I mean to finish, people I mean to keep in better touch with, ways I mean to take better care of my family.
But if I could just make one resolution come true it would be this: to develop a core of wise calmness with which to respond to people and situations instead of my current strategy, which is to give into the temptation to lose my cool and stomp around hollering like a crazy person.
I fully sympathize with the pressure I’m under on a daily basis. I frequently have many people clamoring, often not so quietly or politely, for my attention and my assistance. I can (after the fact) look back at myself in a certain situation, say, with two pots working on the stove, my husband calling to have me edit a story, my three year old refusing to listen to his 8 year old sister’s demand that he stop whacking her with a dinosaur, all the while having a screaming baby beside me, and I can say, wow, no wonder you started hollering when one of the kids wrinkled their nose and said, “Ew! I don’t WANT that for dinner!”
But the reality is, I don’t want to excuse myself, however much I may understand that my angry response is natural. Stressful situations are a part of everyone’s life. When my kids are grown there will still be something that tries to push me over the edge. I want a new response. One that might not fix everything, but which will truly be the best response possible, and one that I won’t have to feel like crap about afterwards.
A few years ago, I went through a dark emotional time where I was intensely jealous of my husband. I used to have to get out of bed and take my stewing to the living room, because I was absolutely consumed with pain throughout my heart and my body. I sat with the horrible feelings, I wrote about it, I talked to people, I prayed, I desperately tried everything. I have no idea what did the trick, but that nasty agonizing jealousy went away.
I believe the same thing can happen with my anger. If I can only have one big change this year, I want it to be a connection to Oneness so deep that love and joy cannot help but infuse themselves into the world through my heart.
From Essential Sufism edited by James Fadiman & Robert Frager
“Some Israelites insulted Jesus one day as he walked through the marketplace.
He answered them only by repeating prayers in their name.
Someone said to him, “You prayed for these men. Do you not feel anger at their treatment of you?”
He answered, “I could spend only what I carry in my purse.” — Attar