I love to rest beneath the Aspen tree in my front yard. It creates a canopy of shade on a subtle decline. An old blanket and pillow and I have a ready-made oasis.
After a picnic lunch Timmy and I were cloud watching. We saw lions, bunnies, and even a toaster (well Timmy saw that one). “Dad? Dis a apple twee?” “No buddy it’s an Aspen twee, I mean tree.” “NOOOOOOOOOO! IT’S APPLE TWEEEEE!” He screamed so loudly it shook my eardrums. “Oh, yes, Timmy it’s an apple tree. I forgot.” He crossed his tiny arms with a huff, pouting as he looked down.
You and I know that screaming at an Aspen tree won’t make it an Apple tree. That’s insane behavior; forgivable in a three year old but insane for most everyone else, but we all do it, don’t we?
For example, this past May has been the wettest and coolest in Colorado. I overheard a young lady walking past my classroom with her friends, “If it rains again this afternoon I’m going to be so angry!” What an odd thing to say when you think about it. It is as if she said, “NOOOOOO! IT’S AN APPLE TWEEEEEE!” or “I will make my happiness depend on the weather, which I cannot control, and I’ll take the losing odds.” Why? It’s a common enough thing to say, but why do we do that? Sure enough it rained that afternoon, and I’m willing to bet she was angry. I’m also willing to bet that her anger and negativity affected others around her negatively.
Negativity is as contagious as the flu and ego loves it. Imagine floating in a bathtub and sneezing. The sneeze disturbs the peaceful water around you which in turn affects the environment (and anyone who happens to be in it). A sneeze is understandable but negativity does the exact same thing but is completely unnecessary!
I’m not immune to negativity. My negativity is quite insane. Ego loves a good meal of negativity with a side of self-pity so I’m always complaining about my salary, what I feel I deserve, how I think others should treat me, and I know exactly who to blame for my circumstances. I cannot control my past, and I cannot control my circumstances really, yet I condition my happiness on them while accepting losing odds. Pure insanity. “If I don’t get this (fill in the blank: job, raise, winning lotto ticket, appreciation…) I will be SOOOO ANGRYYYYY!” This is as effective as yelling at my tree, “YOURE AN APPLE TWEEEEEEEEE!”
Recently I let my negativity seep into a conversation with my brother. You could say I “sneezed in the bath”. He was being quite reasonable but I chose not to seek his intention, (see my post “Ms. Understanding”) and made him the sole target of my aggression and frustrations with life. He took it on the chin and didn’t react (the antidote to negativity by the way). When I explained my irritation he responded with love and understanding. He even told me that he loved me. I had NEVER heard him say that before. I apologized for the aggression, and he said, “It is literally nothing, forget it.” I already have.
Egoicide is harder than I thought.