A month ago, in the middle of July, I was in Aylesford, Kent, in England, teaching a leadership training for social justice leaders. It was a dream gig, really, traveling is one of my most favorite things to do, meeting new people is also one of my most favorite things to do, and a captive audience to run my mouth for 4 days was just awesome. We had a blast, we learned, we had incredibly challenging conversations, we made new friends, we talked about colonialism, decolonization, intersectionality, power and privilege, trauma, healing, collaboration and movement building – some of my favorite things. It was epic.
It was also at a surreal venue: a 13th century monastery that looked and felt exactly as a movie set. As in, super trippy looking being 800 years old and everything, and built with absolutely no concern for noise or privacy – after all it was designed for a bunch of priests to live in and do priesty things, not whatever my crew was doing in plotting the revolution for a few days. So the walls were paper thin. PAPER thin. Someone in our group described how they could hear the person in the room next to them zipping their bag. So just trust me on this one, the activities of your neighbors sounded like they were going on in your same room.
Not a problem at all, first night at the place I apparently had no neighbors cause I slept like an angel. Second night, around 7pm as I’m getting ready for the evening activities, I hear this elderly woman wailing at the top of her lungs. Super scary and super sad. She is going on and on and on and on and I wanna go check on her but it definitely sounds like someone is with her and is trying to console her so I just leave it. It seemed like the problem was some physical ailment that had her suffering a whole lot. I said a little prayer for her and went on about my night.
7am the next morning: “Ooooooooohhhhhhhhhhh myyyyyyyyyyyy Goooooooooooodddddddddd, what have I eveeeeeeeeer done to deserve thiiiiiiiiiiiis……..” And on and on and on and on, still and again. She was bitching about her state, she was bitching about the food the night before and the diarrhea it had caused her (I shit you not), she was bitching about how much longer she would possibly have to endure this misery. By now I’m starting to find it pretty funny. She kept at it relentlessly during all 20 minutes of my morning meditation, and I just took it as a challenge to my practice. When I came home that evening she was screaming at the top of her lungs: “Gooooo to beeeed you slimy swine!” You gotta give it to the Brits and their insults. I guess her ham was that it was after 10:30pm and as people were getting ready for bed she could hear them, cause we all could hear e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g and I guess they were keeping her awake.
By the second morning it had been a solid 36 hours of this lady just complaining like I have never heard anyone complain and I hope never will again. And I had an epiphany: complaining is just really not a thing, and I vowed then and there to never complain again. No one wants to hear it, it doesn’t help anything, and it obviously didn’t even help her feel any better.
So, Imma learn from this and stop complaining. About anything and everything. no more complaining in my life, yay!
That lasted a couple of weeks. Ok maybe a week. Definitely a couple of days. I forgot pretty much right away! And there I was, back at it, bitching and moaning about anything and everything, for no good reason. Not that there is ever really a good reason, but my life in particular is actually pretty fuckin’ extraordinary: I’m healthy after a very long horrible time of not being so, I have a fucking amazing, fun, loving community, and have a kick ass roof over my head in the best city on the planet – and I still complain about my life every single fucking day. I am so over myself. It’s boring. But I can’t help it. So I’m getting some help trying to shift this cause fuck. that. shit. My therapist suggested a “mindfulness based stress reduction” course. It starts next week. I shall report back.
What’s true is that the stuff I complain about is totally real and totally valid and worthy of complaining about, but it makes me miserable, wtf. Twenty minutes of daily meditation for 4 and a half years (and I do mean every day) has scratched the surface but not cracked it. I get that happiness is an inside job and that attitude is everything and I had to come to terms with the fact that my attitude is way more volatile than I would like and way too susceptible to outside influences and maybe there is something I can do about it.
And. It’s a practice, not an event. Sigh. Life sucks for everyone and it’s the same miracle for every single one of us. I’ll practice remembering this. Cause really, the key to a happy life and spiritual evolution and political revolution is surrendering to the practice. No puedo cambiar al mundo, pero puedo comenzar a cambiarlo. Y empiezo por cambiarme a mi.