Tuesday, April 22, 2014

aha Moment

How can I say this?  My mother used to discipline the family dog with a broom.  She used to throw cats into our swimming pool, with me playing "catcher" in case they got into trouble, for entertainment.  At a very young age I felt the awkward discomfort of being a partner to what I felt was a cruel act with which I was not in agreement.

The worst punishment I ever dealt an animal when I was a child was singing to the dog.  My hand shaped like a microphone doing my best Judy Garland.  As a young married woman, people told me the best way to get our Siberian Husky puppy to stop howling in the backyard was to slap her in the jaw.  Hating the idea, I tried it only to be reduced to tears.  I have had moments where my pets felt like the only friends I had.  I would never ever abuse them. No rubbing their nose in a mess that they made.  No screaming at them or striking them for breaking or soiling some possession of mine.  It is simply an inanimate object and my pet is my friend and a creature to which I have made promises.

Today, my cat Peabody, the absolute love of my life, climbed onto the desk while I was working on the computer.  Photographs I found in my deceased parents estate went sailing to the floor as his little kitty paws tried to find a comfy spot.  I was smiling as I gently lifted him off the desk and set him into my lap, but then I was treated to the most wonderful of aha moments.

Trying to finish up my work so I could give him my undivided attention, I suddenly could hear his purr over anything else in the room.  I could feel his purr rumbling my lap.  Peabody is not really a lap cat and usually can be expected to settle on one for only a minute or two.  Today, he seemed quite content to stay there indefinitely.

I ruffled the fur on his head until I could see his inner eyelids.  Contentment.  For both of us.

Noticing the scattering of my parents photos, I thought of my mother.  "She could never have experienced this," I thought.

She would have yelled at her cat.  No doubt throwing something or waving her hands to dislodge him.  He would have run in fear from her and trusted her less the next time.  My mother's cats had to be locked in the bedroom with her when she wanted them to stay.  Peabody leads me through the house like he is guiding the presidential motorcade and sleeps with me every night, door open.

I am not a stranger to anger issues.  If I did spring from the womb as enlightened as I am now, I spent many years lost from myself.  I did have one cat who, while I never ever struck him, did hear far too much of my voice raised.  I hated myself a little more each time I noticed how much more skittish he was becoming.  I don't believe in anger management.  I believe in not being angry.

No matter how normally placid you are or how volatile, in that moment when you feel the beast rising up your chest and calling voice and limbs to act, what if you stopped?  Just waited.  Pretend you are in a separate place where time has frozen.  In that moment, there is raw potential.

Think about it.  Why are you angry?  It has everything to do with you.  You feel like you have been slighted or ignored; treated to an injustice; been pushed past a threshold; or don't have a voice.  Someone has inadvertently rubbed salt in your interior wounds.  You have been triggered.

You can build an army of creatures who tiptoe around you, careful of your broken parts, but it will never make you feel any better.

Feel the solid heaviness in your chest.  Feel the anger sting with near physicality.  It hurts.

You really do have to do something different to make your life change.  Do something different to feel something new.

What if, instead of the world letting you down, you are the one letting you down?

In that moment, while your anger is building, think of yourself as a god.  Think of yourself as Poseidon or Neptune.  You can be the storm that leaves wreckage in its wake, leaving everyone, including yourself, a little worse off than you were before.  Or you can observe the anger just as if it was a hurricane or tsunami.  Powerful, finite, meaningless.

It's just an emotion.  It's just a hiccup of a ghost of the way someone once made you feel and you didn't like it.  Depending on the circumstances, you didn't like it and you didn't feel right again for hours or maybe weeks afterwards.  Worst of all, you actually served someone you love and care about a big steaming plate of something you would never want for yourself.   Like my mother's cat, you trusted someone less and you passed along the baton by nurturing people who trust you less.

That trust is what you want.  In that trust is love, respect, admiration, all the wonderful gifts you feel you are being denied.  You build that trust.  Each time you pass up the opportunity to "tear someone a new one," you lay another brick on the foundation.

Anyone who has to ask whether it is better to be feared or loved, has never felt love.  If you have lived a life where creatures are free to love and trust you, guess what happens?

They love and trust you. I've found my pets even seem to instinctively know when I need a few more furry passes against my leg or a rumbling purr in my ear.

It's a beautiful thing.

You might be thinking.  "But Angela, the title of this blog is 'No One Taught You About Money' and the only thing my anger has to do with money is how I feel when there's not enough of it."

Money responds to a quiet faith in its abundance.  Money wants you to spend it.  Not frivolously, but with kindness, intelligence, generosity and the faith you will always have more than enough.  Those are all quiet and gentle mindsets.  Consider them butterflies that will never land on a volatile surface.  Have you ever trained a dog to come "off leash?"  The miracle happens because the dog believes that you are the best and happiest experience to be had against the enticement of all other possibilities.  Things happen when you can set aside dwelling on yourself and your own pain and focus instead on being kind, gentle and nurturing of others.

Your life changes and along with the change, come opportunities and possibilities for all the things you ever wanted.

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