This Time It Happened Like This

OK, here’s the latest epiphany, my most recent moment of sudden clarity (dare I say grace?) to illuminate the chaos and confusion I usually muck around in.  (Imagine me here smashing the heel of my right hand into my forehead just above the right eye in a glancing upward motion, then, upon impact,  both eyes gazing heavenward and my voice uttering a loud and painful “OY!)  This peek into my world  filled with mirrors was triggered by re-re-rereading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones.  Actually it came in the very first paragraph of Judith Guest’s foreword, even more actually from the motto on a plaque found in her grandmother’s attic:

Do your work as well as you can and be kind.

I’d opened this tiny volume because, a few nights earlier, a good friend of more than 25 years (and, remarkably enough named both Judith and Goldberg) told me that I am a good writer.  That made me uncomfortable, really uncomfortable.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do like what I write, but me a good writer?  All the talented and dedicated folks out there–I’m just not one of them.  Anyhow, her comment provoked the need to write something if only to escape from my knee-jerk self-doubt reaction to compliments.  You see, writing keeps me from thinking about writing.  But the mind was empty.  So I made pilgrimage to Natalie for inspiration and found it and much more in Ms. Guest’s opening.  It happened like this:

  • Do my work I do.  No problem there.  Be kind, however,  kicked up the remembrance of unkindness past, of not too long ago really pissing off  another friend by trying to be helpful:

“You should_____.”

“Screw you!”

“Screw yourself!”

“I’m outta here!”

“You’re outta here?  I’m outta here!”

  • This led to me reacting to her anger with my anger, thus to my participation in the death   of that friendship.
  • If that weren’t enough, memory continued to wail on me  by recalling a few occasions when I’d become sarcastic and condescending toward my beloved Bobbie, most recently lambasting her with my irreproachable reasons for wanting to take a walk before sitting down to The Flying Karamazov Brothers–tickets to which were her Christmas gift to me.
  • The final link came from a client who described me to me twice as “sarcastic.”  I told her:

Sarcasm is used to hurt.  I do not hurt!  I’m not even a wise-ass.  A wise-ass is someone who thinks he’s smart.  According to my wonderful wife I actually suffer from terminal cute-atude.  That means I’m just trying to get a laugh.

My client is sharp.  She didn’t buy it.

*   *   *

So what’s going on?  Is this all a byproduct of aging?  I don’t know.  Back in 6th grade Mike Freedman used to say,

Engage brain before putting mouth into gear.

The Buddha said, ask before speaking:

Is it true?  Is it necessary?  Is it kind?

In September I posted an apology for my mouth as part of my Rosh Hashonah/Yom Kippur observance (  Here I am doing it again as part of my Christian New Year observation.

Frankly it doesn’t matter if causing hurt is a byproduct of age or impatience or anger or even cute-atude.  It still hurts.  And apologies do not erase the hurt.

And it certainly is true,

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

Published in: on January 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Apology accepted. We’re all waiting to exhale. As always with an awakening or enlightment..glory!!
    Be Well Dick because all is well.




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