A few weeks ago, when collard greens were still in full swing, I had an epiphany about my relationships. Here it is: Jake and I were mirroring each other down the collard green row (i.e. he worked one side of the row while I worked the other.) As we were moving along, I kept noticing that Jake was passing over some beautiful leaves on his side. I didn’t say anything even though I was frustrated because… who wants to be that person, right? When we got to the end of our row, I switched over to Jake’s side on the walk back, so that I could inconspicuously snip those gorgeous leaves without offending.
Thing was — I couldn’t find any of them.
What had been so brilliantly clear to me from my side was totally hidden from Jake’s view.
Here’s what I got out of that experience: We are assholes.
I say “we” because I know I’m not the only one who assumes their way of living is the best way there is to live.
We are constantly acting like children. We map our own ideas of how the world should be onto other people. And when we don’t get our way, we’re ticked.
You can just imagine a little kid throwing a fit because the Toys-R-Us doesn’t have the toy he planned on getting.
And every time you get mad, that little kid is YOU!
We get angry because things don’t go as we expected them to. Case in point, I was mildly miffed at Jake because I had this idea of how he should be farming. That he should be more careful. More thorough. The momentary “bleh” feeling I got with being frustrated was a watered down fit.
Turns out, Jake was doing the best he could do from where he was standing. Hell, he was doing the best I could do from where he was standing. And guess what? Everyone is always doing the best she can do from where she is standing.
Maybe even more importantly — by mapping our ideas of how things “ought” to be done onto everyone else — we are missing the beautiful, creative, wildly sacred person in front of us. We are wasting our limited supply of life energy on being disgruntled.
I always think back to a story my friend shared with me about his wife’s dishwasher unloading habits. Every time his wife unloaded the dishwasher, she put all the random doohickeys in the teaspoon slot of the silverware separator. So every morning — when he went to eat his cereal — he had to rustle through all the doohickeys to get a teaspoon.
For weeks, he let this piss him off. Then one morning, he realized that his wife was one of the greatest parts of his life. And that his time was not so precious that spending twenty seconds searching for a teaspoon warranted anger at one of the best parts of his life.
So, the next time you get ticked at your loved ones, look at them. Know that they are doing the best they can in that moment.
And imagine yourself as a screaming toddler, making a scene outside the Toys-R-Us.
As my dad likes to say, it’ll straighten you out real quick.