Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Talk Thursday: My Rights and My Wrongs

Kilometers swum in July: 32.2
Goal: 34

The big 2k swim is tomorrow night. I don't actually expect to swim 2k in 45 minutes but I'm hoping against hope I can knock off 1800. Because, really, it'd be awesome to hit 34 during the Big Swim. That would be serious grounds for a party at the beach. Well, we don't have a beach here in Dallas (unless you count the wave pool in Garland, and frankly, I don't), so I guess it will have to be a party at the pool. It's a nice pool, the SMU Natatorium. Just dodge the occasional shark and you're fine. Okay, I'm kidding about the shark. Mostly.

Up until this topic crawled across the Talk Thursday topic-o-meter, it never occurred to me that there might be human wrongs. Oh, sure, the world's full of them-let's start with slavery, religious warfare, the Exxon Valdez and John Boehner's spray tan-but it never occurred to me that there might be traits inherent in the human animal--bad ones--that just come with the package. That there could have been a clause in the Declaration of Independence that read, "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created evil; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unenviable traits, and among these are greed, wrath, envy, gluttony, sloth and the pursuit of seventeen-year-olds in skirts." (Thomas Jefferson had seven kids with a woman who was not his wife, if memory serves.) Are there such traits? And do I have them? I expect I do, except possibly the one about the seventeen-year-olds. I prefer not to get arrested when I date.

So, if one wanted to establish one's rights and wrongs, where would one start? With the best and worst thing one ever did, I imagine, or at least the best and worst things about oneself. Not only don't I know what those things are, I'm not even sure how to narrow the list. I've been busy over here. Besides, are we talking about the best thing I did as far as its immediate benefit to me? Because if that's the case, it was definitely marrying Joan. But if we're talking about its immediate benefit to other people, it was converting to Buddhism and joining OA (tie). I was, let's face it, not a very nice person before those two things came along. They came along at roughly the same time, so it becomes a chicken and egg sort of thing. Whatever, it's an omelet and I'm in it. There was Before Buddhism and OA, and there's After Buddhism and OA. Two totally different people, really.

As far as the worst: again, how to narrow the list? The worst thing I ever did to myself was believe the stuff other kids told me in school, and repeat it to myself long after I'd ceased to hear it on a daily basis. The worst thing I ever did to another person? Cripes. I have no idea. I have an entire notebook full of Fourth Step meanderings in which I tried to figure this out. Dumping my ex by a long-distance phone call? That was pretty bad. Pouring shampoo on the back seat of my dad's car because I was mad at him? Serious mess, but bubbles aren't the worst thing in the world to clean out of the back of a car. (Hint: Do not use a hose.) Taking advantage of a good friend's obvious gullibility to get her to do things I was afraid to do myself? Ulp. Yeah. That was bad. But was it the worst?

Here's a sobering thought. What if I haven't done it yet?

Good thing I don't believe in predestination, or I'd get the heebie jeebies right about now. Imagine, if you will, that it's encoded into your DNA to do one of each. That you're on this planet to do one really good thing, and one really horrible thing. You don't know what they are, but you gotta do 'em. There will be a big gaping hole in the fabric of reality if you don't. You may go your whole life without knowing, until the very end of it, when you suddenly realize that you did them both when you were six. Or you did the Bad Thing when you were seventy-four and the Good Thing when you were eighteen. Or you did the Bad Thing when you were fifty-one, and--and you haven't done the Good Thing yet. You haven't done the Good Thing, and you're running out of time, and what if it's not going to happen until after you die? What if you're going to donate your body to science, and because of you, some kid in medical school will grow up to, I dunno, cure Shy-Drager syndrome or something?

Anyway, like I said, I don't believe in predestination. And I reckon all of us do both good and bad things, just because we're human beings. But wouldn't it be awesome if, instead of yearning to be rich or thin or powerful or famous, more of us yearned to be nice or wise or smart or compassionate? If I could convince a few people that that would be a better path, I'd settle for that being my One Good Thing. I really would.


Cele said...

Bravo, I'll go with nice, wise, and kind.

Word Verify: Tangiver - the person who sprays John Boehner?

Jen said...

I think it's more like Taninflicter. I mean, seriously, that tan has to go.