Last night, I was not in a great mood. I had spent the day grading essays, and, with a few exceptions, they were not good. It always makes me feel bad to give low grades. So having to do that set me up for the meltdown to come.
I have been forcing myself to make healthy dinners even though I am depleted by school, but confess to doing so grudgingly. It’s that thing where you know it’s good for you but you just don’t wanna.
My kitchen was a disaster. I’d made a couple of side dishes that used up lots of pots and pans and bowls; these soaked in the sink. For the main course I was chopping some slimy fish.
I don’t like cooking fish. It stinks up my house and makes a big mess. This particular piece of fish actually turned my stomach as I minced it. I almost threw it out, but Al loves fish and loves this particular dish (salmon patties) and had asked for it twice.
So as I got the patties ready for the frying pan, Al came home and said “Leroy’s coming over.”
“When?” I asked.
Leroy is a very friendly, talky, party-type macho guy. I was not in the mood.
“In a few minutes.” Al said, looking for a spot to set his lunch pail on the messy countertop.
I said a few things in a loud voice. Like, Why couldn’t he have warned me, did he not see what a mess the house was, dinner would be interrupted, this was so inconvenient, and on and on. As per usual when I raise my voice, Al got defensive.
“What’s the big deal? Who cares what the house looks like? Dinner will stay warm. He’s just dropping off some hockey tickets.”
“But you could have called to warn me!”
Al looked puzzled as I worked off my anger by whipping the kitchen into shape in the ten minutes it takes to fry salmon patties.
“I”m not hungry,” I said. “I’m going upstairs to read. Call me when he’s gone.”
Al shrugged, filled his plate, and lit a candle to get rid of the fish smell.
I went upstairs for my time out. I knew I needed to cool down. I was embarrassed that I’d had a meltdown of such epic proportions over such a stupid thing. All my years of studying and meditating and trying to change and be a better person and all it takes is an unexpected guest to set me off. What a loser.
I wondered why I couldn’t have caught myself sooner, and even though things were fine after Leroy left (Al does not hold a grudge. He said the salmon patties were excellent.) I still had a bad taste in my mouth this morning about my temper tantrum. I tried to analyze it. The bad mood, the bad fish, the loss of control. What is wrong with me? And how can I fix it?
Then I read that Ram Dass said that even after all his spiritual teachings, he never got over one bit of his neurosis. All his awful patterns stayed with him. He thought it was kind of funny. They’d appear and he’d greet them like old friends. I guess if Ram Dass can laugh at his imperfections, I can, too, although I’d rather throw them out with the stinky fish.