During the fall months, my friend’s husband helped us establish our front flower beds. Very kindly he offered his services and also use of the gardening center for dirt and mulch. He was helping us because it was a brand new house and he wanted to assist us in making it a wonderful landscape.
Fast forward to this spring. I received a text from my friend with laughing emojis. Apparently, even though her husband had double-checked the address four times, the gardening supply store had accidentally delivered 10 yards of top soil to our house instead of theirs. She said she was sorry and promised they would come to claim the dirt immediately. When I arrived home from work at 5:00 pm, the dirt was still there. The gardening store said it was free dirt for us. My husband said, “Free is for me.”
I, instead, became angry.
“So great, Brian,” I responded. “When are we going to move this large pile of dirt from directly in front of our garage? And that’s another thing. They didn’t know there wasn’t a car parked in there. What if my car was in there and,” he interrupted me.
“You hate parking in the garage. There wasn’t a car in there.”
“They don’t know that,” I said. And then he started laughing.
“I love you, Kell,” he said as he chuckled. “You get angry at the weirdest things. It’s free dirt. It can sit there as long as it needs to.”
“It looks like shit,” I responded angrily. “So I guess that’s what it’s going to be? It looks horrible.”
“It looks like we are doing something,” he said. “What’s so bad about that?”
And it is an excellent question. What is so bad about that? Why am I so angry?
It was not until I was talking to my close friend this morning in the IPC at school that I realized what it is.
My husband grew up in an idyllic town. His parents’ house is on the Delaware river only feet from the park that marks Washington’s Crossing. It is a place surrounded by lush trees, green grass, and buildings dating back to the Revolutionary War. A nature preserve sits adjacent and has a lovely little trail that takes the walker past families of turtles and an array of wild flowers. From his parents’ house, he lived in Newtown. Another quaint and adorable town not far from his parents. When he bought his first house, it was in the surrounding area. He has never lived anywhere gross. He has never lived anywhere small. He has never lived anywhere that caused him to shudder as he walked out the front door. He never looked out his back window at tenement housing projects. He never walked down his street and looked at discarded beer cans and drifting pieces of trash. He doesn’t think about the finality of things going bad or turning ugly. He only knows a world where things may be ugly for a bit, but then there is always beauty. There is always rebirth.
I have had the opposite experience, and if I believe my broken narratives, I have endured much and many of my experiences have only shown me that when things fall to shit, well, they stay that way.
It is here that the work I have done in my life comes into play. Bryon Katie’s work to be exact.
When I question my thoughts, I can stop my suffering.
Is it true?
The 10 yards of dirt are permanent. My house looking bad out front is permanent. People are looking at our house and thinking about how gross it is.
Truthfully, I’m not sure any of these things are true.
How do I feel when I think these things? Bad. I feel bad. I start to tear up, and I want to cry.
How do I feel when I realize these things? I feel lighter. I feel more free. It frees me up to feeling better about the situation and less like this is permanent.
And finally there is the reversal. This is my favorite part.
The 10 yards of dirt are not permanent. In fact, they are quite fleeting. My house looks beautiful. This is not permanent. Everyone is looking at our house and thinking it is amazing. No one is looking at our house and thinking anything.
It is in this moment that I see the fleeting nature of thoughts and feelings. They can be changed and manipulated without much effort all. As soon as the thought changes, the feeling changes with it.
It is my thought about the dirt that has caused the suffering, not the pile of dirt itself.
Love and Light, all.