We heap on all sorts of extra drama to situations, and then wonder why life is so hard. The other day I caught myself in the middle of one of my internal diatribes. Self-pity, anger, and frustration were the main cast and I had given them complete license to run the show.
"Why does this have to happen to me?"
"The whole world is crazy!"
You know the routine. Couple that with physical tension, and I was about to scream.
And then out of nowhere I spotted my role in all this. I wasn't sitting passively watching this unfold. Quite the contrary: I was complicating the situation by adding all these new layers to my hurt.
Suffering is optional.
I spotted how I was injuring myself and stopped. The anger remained, but I wasn't feeding it with a fictional storyline where I was the victim of some injustice. I've read "Just do the dishes" countless times; now I was "just angry."
It wasn't pleasant and I didn't enjoy being mad, but it was a traceless, unencumbered anger. It came and it went.
Life is complex, riddled with details and responsibilities. But we're the ones who make it complicated by resisting what's unfolding at this present moment, by spinning these soap operas in our minds. Most of us are much better artists than we give ourselves credit for.
The problem, I think, is that we believe our own stories and don't even realize when we're trapped inside of our thoughts. The goal of Buddhism is to wake up. The first step, though, is to realize when we're asleep at the wheel.
Moment by moment by moment.
Photo borrowed from Creative Commons flickr user: AJC1.