On Sunday I stepped in dog shit.
This was after someone left me high and dry owing $800.
And after my transmission broke and I found myself on the side of the road with 2 kids in the back seat of a car packed for a move.
And after I called the tow truck.
And in the middle of an hour long melt down on the ferry of a 5 year old who wanted "special pens."
And in the midst of this Sunday, a woman helped me walk my house plants down the ramp to the ferry, so they wouldn't freeze in the car.
I told her, "the worst part of shitty days is the belief that I've cosmically or karmically caused them."
She paused, slightly confused by the notion, and said, "I hope those thoughts pass."
It was a kind moment. She could have tried to figure out with me what I'd "done wrong," but she didn't.
And I get the subtleties. I know that when I get sick I've often been driving harder than was fun. I know that I had a bad gut feeling about the guy who stood me up.
I'm actually a person that over compensates in the department of owning my shit. I take on the shit. All the shit. Everyone's shit.
What if there was no right way (so you couldn't have made the wrong decision).
What if the law of attraction is half bull-shit. (in that it doesn't account for everyone else's shit.)
What if you did the best you could with the tools you had. Period.
There's a time to say "there must be a reason for this." Or, "it looks like the universe is trying to tell you something," or, "this will make you stronger," or "what was your part in this."
And there's mostly a time to hold back.
And different people need different things in the shit-on-the-shoe, transmission blown, kid-screaming kind of situation.
I will say there are 2 types of people, for the sake of making a simple point.
1. There are people that need to hear, "what was your part in this? And if you tell me, I'll still love you."
(Let's imagine a person who grew up and learned that if they did anything wrong they were punished, or shunned, or sent to the corner or their room. They may have learned that mistakes meant ex-communication from the tribe, a terrifying thought for anybody)
If you're of this category, you can lean towards believing that you had something to do with the asshole being mean to you (while recognizing that nobody really has an excuse for being an asshole), or the ending of your relationship and that doesn't mean you don't deserve love.
You get to name this challenge with good trust worthy people around you and say, "I have a really hard time admitting I've done something that hurt you because I worry you won't love me, or that we'll lose our connection."
2. There are people that feel that they caused everything. They need to hear, "no, it's not about you, it's about that person doing a shitty thing and do you really want to be around them anymore.
(Let's imagine a person growing up in an environment that wasn't quite ideal that. In order to stay connected to their parents they had to believe something was wrong with them, and work hard to fix it. I've said it before, but here it is again, it's evolutionarily disadvantageous to believe something is wrong with people in your life or the environment you are in as a child. You've just got to learn to survive - better.)
If you're in this category you can lean towards believing that you had a little less to do with the asshole who was mean to you, or the break-up of your last relationship, than might feel comfortable for you. That shitty thing happened and you get to say, "no, that's there shit and I don't want to be around it."
This was a few days ago and I'm attempting to not make the things mean anything more than they do and trying not to sink into shame and trying not to believe I've f*(& my life up for good.
The guy at the mechanic shop told me, after hearing the story of the car, that I should scrap it because...
"it seems like the universe doesn't want you to have this car."
And in my head I managed to say,
It's not karma. I just stepped in shit. Period.
And here's a treat, a story from David Sedaris' book "Squirrel Meets Chipmunk," one of my favourites.
"The white rat had been sick for as long as he could remember. If it wasn't a headache, it was an upset stomach, a sore throat an eye infection. Pus seeped from his gums. His ears rang, and what little he ate went right through him. Now came the news that he had pancreatic cancer, which was actually something of a relief. "Finally, I can die," he moaned to his new roommate. She was a female, also white and had arrived only that morning. The tank they shared was made of glass. It's walls soiled here and there with bloody paw prints and flecks or vomit.
"Well," she sighed, wincing at the state of her new home. "I'm sorry to say it, but if you have a terminal illness, it's nobody's fault but your own."
"I beg your pardon," said the white rat. This female approached the water bottle, stuck her paws into the spigot, and began to wash them.
"It's nice to believe that these sicknesses just befall us," she said. "We blame them on our environment and insist that they can happen to anyone, but in truth, we bring them on ourselves with hatefulness and negativity. You might not have realized how negative you were being. Maybe you were passive-aggressive. Maybe no one cared enough to point it out, but I have to call things like I see them, just as everyone does to me only in the opposite direction." 'How come you're always so sunny,' they ask, 'and doesn't your mouth hurt from all that smiling?' Some interpret it as over-exuberance but to me, it's a kind of vaccine. As long as I'm happy and I love everybody, I can't get sick."
"Never," asked the white rat.
"Oh, I had a flu once, but it was completely my own fault. Someone I mistook for a friend took to criticizing me behind my back, saying things regarding my weight and so forth. I got wind of it and for all of three minutes I wished her ill. I'm not talking death, just a little discomfort. Cramping, mainly. I was just starting to visualize it when I sneezed, which was my body's way of saying, whoa that's not cool. Then my nose stopped up and I came down with a fever."
"And what about your supposed friend, the one who said cruel things behind your back? If you got a flu, what happened to her," asked the white rat.
"Well, nothing yet," the female said, "but sometimes the body bides its time." Her pink eyes narrowed just slightly. "I can bet when something does happen, though, it will be a lot worse than a flu. Diabetes maybe."
"You sound pretty hopeful." the white rat observed.
The female scowled, then smiled so hard the corners of her mouth touched her eyes. "Not at all, I wish her the best."
The white rat slumped against the wall and put a hand to his forehead. "I can't think of anybody I dislike. Then too, I've been alone since my last roommate died."
"That's another cause of cancer." the female told him. "You need to get out, socialize. Storytelling is pivotal to our well-being, as are non-ethnic jokes and riddles." Food pellets dropped from a chute beside the water bottle, and she took a bite of one. "I heard somewhere that limericks can cure both heart disease and certain types of cancer, can you beat that?"
"Limericks," the white rat knitted his brow.
"They're poems." The female explained. "You know, like 'there once was a mouse da-da-da, who died at a da-da-da-da.'"
"Oh right," said the rat, and silently recalling one about a prostitute and a dead cat, he chuckled. "And what about haiku? Are those good for curing shorter diseases?"
"I know when I'm being mocked," the female said, "but that's OK. You're sick and are going to die. I, meanwhile, am perfectly healthy with good teeth and a positive attitude toward life, so joke away if it makes you feel any better." She just cracked open that smile of hers when the mesh ceiling parted, and a human hand appeared. At first it seemed to be made of wax, that's how rigid and opaque it was. But as it neared and pinned her to the floor, the female smelled rubber and understood that it was encased in a glove. Then came a second hand, this one bearing a hypodermic needle. And as the tip sank into her stomach, releasing its mad punch of viruses, the white rat settled against the wood chips and thought, most limericks, it seemed to him, involved a place. 'There was a young mole from Des Moines,' say. Or 'in Yorktown there once lived a ferret.' He didn't know where he was, though. It was a lab obviously, but the location was anyone's guess. With this in mind, he came up with the following.
A she-rat I had as a roomy said illness just strikes if you're gloomy. Since she was injected with AIDS, I've detected an outlook a lot less perfumy. Funny, he thought, but it actually did make him feel better."
By David Sedaris