This is my bumper:
Today, a man in a green volkswagen jetta drove by, shouted, "Self-righteous!" at me out of his window, and then gave me the finger. I could tell that he was looking for my reaction through his rearview mirror, so I smiled and bowed to him.
Which, ironically, felt a little self-righteous.
Immediately, I noticed my shoulders tense, my jaw clench, and my eyebrows furrow. I felt nauseous and a little dizzy as I sat at the light waiting to turn left, after he had just sped past.
I had just come from getting a massage and then stopping to visit Oldman at work to bring sushi for him and one of his co-workers. I was going home to read and maybe blog. I was thinking about how I'm looking forward to going to PA tomorrow to visit my family for the weekend and celebrate my nephew's 9th birthday. I was feeling pretty good.
And then it was like this dude sped by and emptied a dump truck of negativity into my car. It felt like I was suffocating under its weight.
I used my hands to mime wiping my whole body off, sort of like symbolically shedding the energy. I said aloud, "This is not mine. I don't want it." I have done this before when I felt like I had inadvertently taken on some negative energy, and it usually helps, even if just psychosomatically. (Really, everything is psychosomatic because we live in our minds and create reality from our thoughts, but that's another blog post.)
It didn't help this time, though. I just felt self-righteous for doing it. So I closed my eyes for a minute and visualized sending him love and blessing; covering him with light. But that made me feel even more self-righteous and then I wanted to flip myself off because I was driving myself crazy with my own inescapable self-righteousness!
And then I began questioning my entire existence and way of looking at life. Why couldn't I just flip him off in return, like any normal human being? Why couldn't I have just summoned the necessary anger and shouted, "Yeah and your mother, too, bastard!" Would that have felt better?
I think this bothers me so much because I have been called self-righteous many times in my life. When I was a young, over-zealous Christian, when I got all Buddhist-y in my twenties, when I started classes at Tai Sophia Institute for the Healing Arts, yada yada yada. I've always hated hearing it. Who likes to be around a self-righteous person? No one. Ick.
Yet it seems like choosing to be un-self-righteous involves participating in a culture of complaint and negativity. And I don't want that either. Does choosing to express love and acceptance equal being self-righteous? If so, perhaps it is a label I'll have to just get used to.
The irony is that this is my second round of bumper stickers. I used to have ones that said stuff like, "Fund Education, Not War," and other liberal, political stuff. But when I got this car, I decided to only put loving messages on my bumper - nothing that could be seen as oppositional or argumentative. I only wanted to spread love.
And even upon looking at my "Upset is Optional" bumper sticker, someone chose to take a big, giant bath in upset, and then dump the dirty water all over me. And now how am I supposed to get clean again? Or should I just stay dirty, so I "fit in" better with this angry, bird-flipping world?
There have been many comments on my Facebook page in response to this post, all of which I appreciate and have given me more food for thought on the issue.
Many people are saying things like "It's not about you," or some version of that. Letting me know that this man's anger is his choice, and doesn't have to be mine. I agree. And I have been thinking about that phrase, "It's not about you."
No, it's not "about" me, and it still affects me. Nothing we do on this earth is isolated. As I once heard somewhere, we are just time-sharing cells. Our entire body has renewed its cells within a 7 year period. The universe has a finite amount of matter, as far as we currently know. Nothing ever really dies, just gets re-created as something else. The cells that make up your skin could have once been in Mother Theresa, or Hitler, or Beyonce. The air you're breathing could have once been on the hair on a grasshopper's leg, or the ink on the tip of Obama's ballpoint pen.
Everything we do while on this earth affects everything else, in some way. That man choosing to put a little more negativity into the world means it's just a little more icky for the rest of us to live in. What a great lesson for me. That is what I am choosing to take from this. I am choosing to learn from him and remind myself how much his negativity affected me. I want to commit to be more careful about the choices I make, and what I'm putting into the collective soup that is our shared existence.
ALSO, there was a comment about whether I am "over-reacting." Perhaps. I was reacting for sure. Was it an over-reaction? I like to examine things, and am fascinated with people, so it's rather in character for me to spend this much mental time considering this incidence.
I have thought about this man quite a bit. Who is he? What was his day like? Who are his parents and how did they treat him? Who in his life loves him? What brings him joy? The possible stories are endless.
And finally, I must admit that I had already had two quite negative experiences in the day before this happened. I started my day with two angry parents yelling at me in my office about something totally ridiculous. It took me until about lunch to shed that experience.
Then a co-worker sent me a nasty, biting email in response to what I thought was a rather benign request. It took me until after school to shed that experience. And then this happened, and I think I was just full up for my negativity quota for the day.
Luckily, Oldman had read my post while at work, and knew that this had happened. He woke up me when he got home late and showered love and affirmation on me, which totally made up for all the ickiness of the day and balance out the scales.
So the point is: yay for love. Don't be hater, y'all.