by Angela Clark
I went to go see the documentary, My Reincarnation, with my husband the other night. Before the film started, a person spoke very briefly about a Q & A that would be happening afterwards. He mentioned they would like to give away a poster, so if you wanted to be included in the raffle to drop your card in the hat he passed around.
While he was speaking there was a woman next to me sighing loudly, looking at her watch and very clearly showing she was displeased with this five minute delay. When the hat reached her, she emphatically passed on putting in her card, and tossed the hat so quickly at me (not to me, but at me – this distinction must be made) that the papers in the hat scattered. As I was gathering up the papers, she smiled at me as if everything was okay and I looked at her like she was crazy – because everything was definitively not okay.
I was also wondering how I could be sitting in a tiny cinema theatre about to watch a documentary on Buddhism, Tibetan, Dzogchen Buddhism and here was a woman acting so rudely to those around her. Because the space was small, I could not share my observations with my husband and waited patiently till after the movie was over.
After we had left the theatre, and we had a buffer of several blocks, I was finally able to talk to him and confirm how crazy that woman had been acting. “Could you believe that woman next to me! Huffing and puffing, sighing loudly throughout the film, being so passive aggressive…” He turned to me and said, “how is her behavior any different from you holding onto to it for this long just to go off on it?”
I hate when he’s right, especially because he does not have any formal practice of any kind. Don’t get me wrong, he has his fair share of things he holds onto and puffs about but in this instance, he was right. The woman’s sighing, and display of irritation at the beginning of the movie did not make the experience of the film less enjoyable. I do not have to see her again, and most likely will never have another interaction with her. Why was I so bothered by it? What drove me so crazy?!
My teacher calls these “pain identities”. We got home, and I started to think about it in my kitchen. What was this pain? What was this pain identity I had? And it is as if someone turned on the light, all the things I’ve read, studied, listened to throughout the year, here was just one more moment of waking up. This person became my mirror, seeing an aspect of me in her, it wasn’t her I was annoyed with or upset with it was that aspect, that impatience. Because on a level I identified with impatience of this other person, with wanting things to start on time (even after 20 years of going to see dance performances that never start on time).
I saw in this other person, things I don’t like seeing in myself – all too clearly, after a few hours of beating it around in my head. Not an easy thing to admit to myself, or to a room full of people, but once the light is shining on something it is no longer dark. But it will happen, as all things do with time, the light will get shone somewhere else and that realization will once again be in the dark. My hope is that with practice, training and a willingness to live in love, compassion, joy and equanimity that I’ll be able to switch the light on more quickly next time I have such and encounter.
I use to have a saying over my bed growing up – something that was cross-stitched for me when I was born. It said, “Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” And so I beg of the universe, of all the people I observe and identify with:
“Please be patient, I am not finished with me yet.”