We lucked out!Â We had a glorious day to attend Houstonâs Bayou Arts Festival held in beautiful Memorial Park.Â Our plan was to arrive early to beat the crowds. The weather god was smiling down on us that day, with sunny skies, temperatures in the low 70âs and a brisk cool wind.Â It was warm in the sun and cool beneath the ample live oaks that shaded our path.Â It should have been the bests of days but by the end of the day, the cold wind that was blowing was from within me and biting cold words were warmed by my scolding hot temperament. Not the day I had imagined.
How do I begin?Â There were five of us well equipped for a lovely day of browsing the fabulous art festival. Â We had our sun screen, sun glasses, hats, some disposable currency and cell phones. Well most of us were equipped. One person arrived without his cell phone; a vital piece of equipment needed when traversing the intriguing booths and swarming crowds.Â With a little annoyance we adjusted our plans to identify a place where we could meet up if he got cut off from the group.Â With the advent and popularity of cell phones, this historical problem has almost been extinguished from our lives. There is little need for lost and found booths with blaring public intercoms announcing lost children, and certainly no need for any adult with a cell phone to be lost at all.Â Well almost no need!
We met for a hearty early breakfast and arrived around 10:30 ready to take in the paintings, glass work, ceramics, ironworks, and apparel.Â Within only one hour our friend Jill was already retracing her path to see if she could find her husband. By 12:30 Jill was seething and had already found a place to sit in wait for him. After the next two hours her seething anger was mixed with concern for his well being and we were all being scattered in different directions to see if we could find our lost friend.Â Like a parent with a lost child, she was frantically living the worst of scenarios vacillating from anger to fear.Â After another hour of intense searching the park police and the festival director were now concerned enough to get involved in the search.Â The one thing we knew for sure was that Bill, a well known architect, author and sailor, would not leave the park without his wife. He would not get on the bus and go back to their car since we had already made contingency plans in case he got separated.Â Â And you know what they say about âthe best laid plansâ?
Personally I was swept up in Jill” anxiety; who wouldnât be?Â By the time the park police were involved we all were frightened and concerned. We had peered into every booth and even started checking portalets to make sure he had not fainted while in one. Â I consciously stayed calm and as light as I could since Iâm aware of my own propensity to run out into the future cloaked in the worst case scenario.Â Five hours had passed when I looked up to see Bill approaching with a smile as big as the state of Texas on his face. Â Â For an instant I felt a wave of relief come over my body and just as quickly it was replaced by a tidal wave of furry. As Jill embraced her husband, I stiffened and pulled away.Â When he began to tell us that he had taken the bus to their car, I lost it!Â I went from cold, contained anger to attack in a nanosecond.Â âWhere within our plans was there ever a mention of returning to the car! What was wrong with the area under the blue flags that we had declared as the place to reconnect?âÂ As I spat those words out I realized that my tone was biting.Â What was that all about?Â Bill was safe and that was the most important thing.Â I should have been celebrating with them, but I couldnât. The demon anger and righteousness were holding me captive. Who was this person capable of spitting nails?Â Where did she come from?
I donât read daily horoscopes or know much about astrological signs, but I have learned over the years that although I was born a Sagittarius, all of my moons (not sure what that means) are in Scorpio.Â At moments of biting anger I understand the deadly bite of the scorpion.Â The tone of my words was venomous and landed with deadly precision. As a high school teacher I could silence a room of thirty sixteen year olds with razor sharp words delivered in a tone that stopped them dead in their tracks. But my supreme weapon was a stone icy stare that stopped them dead in their tracks.Â It was a brilliant survival strategy for a 22 year old teacher working at an inner city high school in Boston.Â But like an old favorite childhood toy that Iâve out grown, it is time to put that toy away. That behavior is no longer appropriate for the gentle loving person that I aspire to today?Â Was this a suitable reaction to Billsâ behavior?Â Hell no!Â Am I proud of it?Â Not at all!
There is always the opportunity to be righteous and create a case for Bill being wrong. That is what I did. As I write about it I can feel in my body the heaviness and density of my righteousness and I donât want to carry that weight around anymore! Â There is a grain of truth in everything; and my reactions are not âthe truth.â A practice that Iâve worked with over the years is to pay attention to when my energy goes up so that I can explore it like a prospector sifting for gold in the rivers of the old west. Â When reviewing the events of the day, and my reactions to them, I see that there are other truths that I just couldnât see while I was busy reacting.Â Another truth is that Bill did what he thought was right in the moment.Â Maybe he made a judgment call that we didnât plan for, but isnât that part of being human?Â His behavior was not malicious or intentional so why did I get so hooked!Â What button inside of was inadvertently pushed?
With distance and a daily practice of reflecting on situations where my energy goes up, I begin to see another version of what happened.Â In the instant of my reaction, what I reacted to was not what Bill said or what he did, but his smile.Â If he had arrived with a worried or anxious look I probably wouldnât have reacted at all. Â When I saw that grin on his face, a very primitive part of me was ignited because I saw my own smiling face of my fear and it was just too close for me not to push away from it. Â I use my smile to âwarm and disarmâ others or situations when I am frightened.Â This behavior is so embedded in me that Iâm not even aware Iâm doing it but it is how I defend and protect myself. Â Â What is the consequence of my defensive reaction?
The by-product is that I get to be righteous.Â Â As I write I can feel the weight of the cloak of righteousness on my shoulders. I was so enveloped in it that I didnât even recognize that I was wearing it.Â Righteousness had me in its deathly grip; I was captive. Â With righteousness and its ensuing justification, I lost the opportunity to learn, to grow and to change! I won the battle but lost the war! Yes in the reaction I got to be right, but at what an enormous cost.Â So I celebrate the awareness that comes with this reflection; I bless Bill for the gift his smile evoked in me and I recommit to the practice of paying attention to when my energy goes up! The real âtruthâ is that the all things can be used for good and a flash of anger can provide a portal to new awareness!