My Challenge With Equanimity

An Irish redhead by birth, I came by my “hothead” temper honestly.  The first child of two narcissists, it was hard to get noticed unless I screamed.  While I received some attention, I felt little comfort and found this strategy “not working for me.” I was instructed to count to ten, keep my feelings inside and hold my cards close to my chest. A poker face would serve me better, they said, than a red face to match my “carrot-top” head.

In my teens I discovered Norman Vincent Peale, and his positive thinking was a great mind game.  Always looking for the silver lining helped distract me from any inner pain. Yet some situations needed more than a rosy attitude or bright shiny outlook to tame. And somehow, “just forgive them”, wasn’t enough to keep me from going insane.

So, in my young adulthood I found the Tao and later the Buddha as well.  The focus on letting life flow and serenely smiling seemed like something worth trying; but still inside me the volcano would swell.  Until I exploded over something too trivial to really be bothered about. Redeeming my “stamp collection” was something too ugly to let out.

So what about this equanimity thing?  You know, caring less about good and bad; letting all just flow over me like rain on a duck’s back?  If I cared less about the good times could I train myself to care less about whatever irritation arose? Could I take refuge in impermanence, knowing nothing, including feelings, would last?

Could I calmly watch misery happening, or hear stupidity displayed with pride?  Accept injustice as simply a learning process that with enough patience and love would subside?  Could I look at the long game or long arc as Dr. King would say? Could I remain peaceful inside while I watched the other “inmates” play?

Existentialism brings some temporary comfort by accepting the purposelessness of life; but then I get jerked again by some stupid comment that cuts through my calm like a hot butter knife. And the Pure Land or heavenly afterlife may bring temporary peace when I look forward to the non-thinking of the dearly deceased.

But it’s here, right now, in this present moment when I experience this maddening day.  Can I remember my father telling me “believe half of what you see and none of what others say”? Can I just close my eyes and smile coyly; pleasantly dreaming serenely? Unfortunately, I still struggle with equanimity.

(Deep sigh…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….)

2 thoughts on “My Challenge With Equanimity

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