I know people who get worked up about the injustices of this world. Things like racial profiling, equality in the workplace, animal rights, you know... things that matter. I am not one of these people.
Don't get me wrong, I care about humanity and I care about animals and I want justice and equality and all that stuff.
I just happen to be a little bit shallower. Perhaps a bit simpler. And I tend to focus all of my anger on things that, in the grand scheme of things, have no ability whatsoever to make the plight of humankind more decent or virtuous.
I would like to share a tale of my most recent tirade.
As with all sacred pilgrimages, it started with getting my nails done. I had exactly three hours, twelve minutes and 42 seconds to myself. It had been scheduled on my calendar a week in advance. All kids were accounted for, husband was occupied, work for the day was done, inbox was empty, assistant was off-duty for the weekend, and I went to get a pedicure. I had my book (A Girl Named Zippy), my reading glasses (burgundy Eyebobs), and proceeded to kick back and allow Friday afternoon to just slip away to the orchestral versions of Cher's Greatest Hits.
Call me a radical, I chose something outside of my usual natural beige. My eyes fell on a bright pink hue - one could even call it neon. Hell, I was feeling spry and I took a risk. As I watched the lady paint my toes right back into the 80's, I felt a warm sense of satisfaction. I had made a good decision. I liked this color. It confirmed my beliefs that I was, in fact, a decent human being, worthy of a few hours to herself. (This might seem like a reach, but seriously, if you saw how cute my toes looked, you'd understand.)
I waited patiently while I adored my little toenails. They were day-glo shiny pink and totally worth all the suffering involved with having the soles of my feet tickled. With these new kicks, I had a little under two hours left to myself and was able to make it to my favorite yoga class.
Now, I had a dilemma. I had nail polish that was dry, but probably not dry enough to withstand scraping it against a sticky mat. So, I decided on a compromise: I'd do my best to practice without screwing up my nails. This involved some pretty tricky maneuvers and some modified vinyasas - but for the better part of an hour it was working.
Or so I thought.
We were just about to transition to the floor when I spotted something awful. Each big toe had symmetrical scuff marks. The pretty pink paint had been scraped off. I was tarnished, flawed.
And I was mad.
If I could have filed suit against the nail polish company I would have. I wanted to call 911 and have the little lady who painted my toenails hauled off to jail. I wanted to scream at anyone who would listen. I fumed my way through savasana (as it is meant to be) and drove home furious.
At home, my family met me with wide eyes trying to understand exactly what injustice had actually occurred. I realized that trying to get buy-in from these people would be futile, so I stopped my rally cry and sequestered myself to the bathroom. At which point I seethed through clinched teeth, sat on the cold tile and tried to fix my screwed up nails.
Now, I need to take a moment to tell you two things.
1. Yes, I am, indeed, this crazy.
2. And yes, at the time, I knew I was being crazy.
Even though I knew that the future of my toe nails really had no bearing on the quality of my life overall, I was off-my-rocker pissed at the injustice of the pedicure gone wrong.
The tirade sounded something like this:
I work SO hard, I have NO time to myself, I try to do ONE nice thing and this is what happens. NOW I'm stuck with crappy looking nails and OF COURSE I don't have time to go in and get them fixed.
(I am not proud of this.)
My filibuster quickly derailed and became even more volitile.
I can't believe I'm mad about something so stupid. I suck as a person. I'm the worst. I'm going to be fat, alone and broke forever.
(I realize that this last sentence probably doesn't seem to have anything to do with nail polish - and you're right, it doesn't. But, if you spent 40 years inside this head of mine, you'd realize that this particular sentence has proven to be a perfectly good response to almost any problem at anytime. It's readily available and custom tailored to insert shittiness into any situation. Call it my go-to.)
I'd love to tell you that I bounced back quickly. That I sat down and chanted a few om-shantis and felt better. I'd love to tell you that I stopped messing with my toenail polish and realized how ridiculous I was being.
But that would be untrue. Instead, I spent a good half-hour in my pity-party repainting my nails with a sparkly purple that I pilfered from my daughter's desk drawer.
Until I realized what was really going on. I felt mad, albeit over something kind of ridiculous, and that feeling was real. The anger burned like fire in my stomach and there was no denying it.
My knee-jerk reaction to my anger was to criticize myself. To tell myself that I was being stupid. To berate my honest feelings. To forsake myself.
And this gets tricky because it sounds pretty dumb to allow yourself to get totally pissed off about a botched pedicure - but this is exactly what I teach my students to do. I tell them to just get pissed. To just be mad. To allow themselves to feel what they feel. To give permission to the feelings instead of trying to suppress them or control them.
And this is exactly what I didn't allow myself.
These feelings, once they are permitted to exist, have a voice and they point us to our inner truths. Once I allowed my anger, it showed me that I was feeling burdened and over scheduled. It showed me that I had derailed and started to believe in scarcity (in time and money) and that I needed to re-direct and practice abundance.
It gave me a map to follow back to my true self.
Which is why I wanted to share this story. Because if I can find spiritual enlightenment over some scuffed pink polish, then it might just be available anywhere.