Cognition & Reality

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Spaciousness & Clarity

Filed under: Uncategorized — drtone @ 3:55 pm

Sometimes amazing shit happens when we give it space.

Two or three months ago, a guy I’ll call Ken came to my door. I had hired  him a couple of times to do some carpentry around here. He told me that his wife had thrown him out and that he had nowhere to live, and asked me if he could stay downstairs here. I told him it wasn’t my call, but I put him on to my friends who own the house, gave him money to add minutes to his phone, etc. The understanding was that maybe Ken could do some work downstairs in exchange for a couple of weeks of shelter. After he missed an appointment with one of my friends, but told me that he had been here (because being asleep in his SUV across the street counts as being here), I thought that they probably wouldn’t take him in, but they did. Many more instances of passive-aggressive behavior ensued, little annoying things like not taking the garbage containers full of busted drywall generated by him out to the street, “doing” the dishes by leaving them in a sink full of greasy, disgusting water, letting me cool my heels waiting for him so that I could do him a favor. On and on. Understand that my housekeeping standards are very, very low, but he wasn’t meeting them. I grew to despise him as did my friends, and of course I felt bad for bringing him into our scene. His presence was annoying and inconvenient.

I had one of my quarterly last weekend. On that Wednesday, I finally got tired of Ken’s bullshit and pointed out a couple of lapses on his part. He brushed aside my remarks and I started to yell at him, to which he responded by saying, over and over, “I can’t believe you’re a psychologist…and you’re yelling at me like this. You’re so petty!” I was pretty disturbed by the whole thing. The next morning, shortly before I was to go on my retreat, I came down to cook breakfast and found cracked eggshells in my egg carton, obviously left there by Ken in a deliberate–and successful–attempt to drive me up a wall. I blew up at him. There was more I-can’t-believe-you’re-a-psychologist and physical posturing. I was very pissed off, it’s true, so pissed off that, in spite of his being much larger, stronger and younger than I am, I actually pushed him in the chest. He could have decked me, but instead brushed my hand away. I was very freaked out by my own behavior and returned upstairs. He took off in his vehicle and I proceeded to leave town.

When I left my retreat on Sunday, I was wide open and anxious, what we call “activated” in the lingo of these retreats. Returning home, I discovered that Ken,had parked in “my” space, the one closest to the house and from which it is much safer to “debark” the doggies, so to spaek. He was attempting to provoke me, and again succeeding. I sat around my place moping, doing the Eeyore bit. I was expecting to feel better after the weekend. Insteaad I felt worse, stuck exactly where I had been when I left Riverside on Thursday.

I went out for some soothing pho (Vietnamese noodle soup). Once I was out of the house, my mood changed. I stopped feeling as though Ken had won or that it was about winning. When I got back, his truck was gone and I parked in my space. I felt altogether different without comprehending why.

The next day, my friends were out in the driveway. Ken’s truck was gone, but I knew from explorations earlier in the day  that his girlfriend had slept downstairs with her little doggy. One of my friends informed me that Ken was in jail, having been arrested on an outstanding warrant and for giving a cop an ID belonging to someone else (because he knew he had an outstanding warrant). Demonstrating his obliviousness, Ken had called my friends to bail him out, which is how they knew what had happened. His being in jail on a felony charge obviated any further action on our part, such as calling the sheriff to have him ejected, and kept us from possibly getting into a nightmare legal wrangle with him. Problem solved: My friends whisked Ken’s girlfriend back to her place, and his stuff was put in storage the next day.

It has occurred to me that the minor miracle of Ken’s getting arrested happened at about the same time as I chose to renounce my attachment to his presence as a “problem.” When I noticed that his truck was gone, he was already on his way to the traffic stop that would lead to his arrest. Until I recognized that addressing it with my egoic mind could not yield anything, I thought about how I would apply my realization at the retreat that “the problem is the solution” to Ken’s continued presence. Well, his continued presence stopped continuing. Like magic, his truck and he with it had vanished, never to return.

So it’s about clarity and spaciousness. Once my thinking ego was out of the picture, there was space for things to happen. I do not doubt that the mind powers the whole show. Or it was just a coincidence? It was pretty amazing, whatever it was. The more I contemplate what happened, the more amazed I am. Poof! And Ken was gone-zo.



  1. As my mother always said: problems are or become what you allow them to become! the more importance you give them, the bigger they grow and devour you!

    Comment by Gaby — Thursday, 8 July 2010 @ 10:23 am | Reply

    • Thank you for noticing my post, because I had nearly forgotten the miracle I witnessed. The incident I reported happened some time ago. Since then, I’ve moved to Sun City, California, and a literally and figuratively more spacious living arrangement.

      My move was something of a miracle itself. I had been living for two years as a guest of my friends, not paying rent, but living in an entirely substandard place, an actual garret, though not a romantic one. When one of my friends decided to take over the project, my girlfriend, her sister, warned me to move because it was going to become uncomfortable, a typically correct assessment. At the same time, I began to realize that the psychotherapy practice I had begun in Temecula was happening, and I was having to make the 45-minute drive from Riverside too often. A suitable place in Temecula was out of the question. In fact, there was no suitable place and if it had existed, the rent would have been unacceptable. I had had my eye on Sun City for some time, as close to my office, but also close enough to Riverside and my commitments in that area. When I checked Sun City rents, I discovered that they are insanely low, in part because you have to be 55 to live here, vastly reducing the market. Within a couple of daze, I had located a suitable place, one with a secure fenced yard for my dachshunds. Within a couple of weeks, I was living here.

      I needed to be released from the inertia that had kept me living in a dump, and that had happened. The unpleasantness that stimulated me to look elsewhere I view as an essential ingredient in my liberation. I do not subscribe to the formula, “It’s all good,” but I do believe it’s all something that is impossible to encompass within our limited minds.

      Comment by drtone — Thursday, 8 July 2010 @ 10:47 am | Reply

  2. You may not subscribe to the philosophy that, “it’s all good”, but I do. I believe with all of my mind and most of my heart that everything happens for a very good reason whether I perceive that reason at the time or not. If it’s not all good, then I pose the question what else can it be if not all good. IMO the minute the concept of wrong, bad or evil come into the picture the universe is ripped apart by duality, and if there is anything that could possibly be wrong or bad it might be this because of all the suffering it’s caused so many humans, but in the end I must say that this is the leading edge of all that is good because it is the one expanding area in which the “the good” finds its ultimate growth. So, to you I say, AT ALL tIMES THERE IS ONLY GOOD.”

    Comment by annie wallack — Sunday, 1 August 2010 @ 8:45 pm | Reply

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