BAD MOOD

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I’m in a horrible fucking mood.

Deal with the cuss word. We are adults.

The g.d. vending machine at the airport took the $10 bill and dispensed “the water bottle with the cool, easy-to-drink-out-of top” that Annie wanted.

But that was it.

Just the water bottle.

No change.

The machine kept the change.

I was already a little resentful about paying $3 for a bottle of water just because my daughter wanted it. But, hey, I’m her dad. I’m going to get her the $3 water.

Now, I’m fuming, standing there—angrily, repeatedly pressing combinations of buttons, leaving, only to return and angrily do so again.

I did not think my mood was even off at all.

But, apparently, it was.

***

“It’s like spaghetti in your lap,” says Annie, in an attempt to console me.

She’s wrong. It’s not like that. Though I know what she’s talking about.

I force the words, “Yeah, kinda,” out of my mouth.

She might be wrong, but she is trying to help.

Robert Brault—“Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true.”

I am able to be in a foul mood and not perpetrate.

I should remember to be proud of this accomplishment.

But that’s not happening right now.

I’m still pissed.

***

I take a selfie, eating a sandwich, with the blasted machine in the background.

You can see it above.

As Emmett says, “Dad, it doesn’t matter what bad happens to you, you just turn it into an article and make it a lesson.”

Kind and smart kids.

They give me hope for the future.

But right now, I’m still still fuming.

***

Annie’s quote—_It’s like spaghetti in your lap_—is an Irving Becker reference: “If you dislike someone, the way they hold their spoon will offend you. If you like someone, they could drop a plate of food in your lap, and you wouldn’t mind.”

This isn’t that.

This is a great example of a spiritual barometer—something that sometimes upsets us and sometimes doesn’t.

Like when Jane micromanages my life—most of the time I appreciate it. \
After all, she is looking out for me.

But sometimes I don’t.

Losing the better part of $10, while usually not a thing to tank my mood, today leaves me fuming.

It’s an indication my spiritualigious barometer isn’t registering sunshine and rainbows today.

***

Dr. Larry Lincoln, in a gray zip-up sweatshirt and thick gray, walrus mustache, stands at the easel and draws a large U shape. He extends the topmost left point to the left and the topmost right point to the right.

I’m a participant at a grief and loss workshop in Tucson, Arizona. The weekend is based on teachings by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, under whom Larry trained.

“This is me,” he tells the 20 of us before him, as he draws a stick figure on the top left, flat part.

He explains as he draws, “We all have difficult times in our lives. That’s the pit, the bottom,” and points to it.

“As a young man, I’d find myself falling into a dark place, a foul mood, and I’d do all in my power to claw myself to that wall, to keep from sliding down.”

We murmur acknowledgement that we’ve done the same.

“But, as I’ve aged, I’ve learned to lean in, to stop struggling, and to use my own forward momentum to get me up on the other side a little.”

***

My foul mood will pass.

And it will do so faster if I can just lean in and feel the feeling.

The thing is, I don’t. At least not today.

Instead, I’m here fighting myself, telling myself that I oughtn’t feel how I’m feeling.

What’s not making it any easier is me telling myself that the mood should have passed and that I oughtn’t be upset.

Were I a four-year old coming to myself for comfort, I would be more compassionate.

Were you to tell me about you having this experience, I would be more compassionate.

But, today, because I’m an adult, because I’m me, I reserve my self-compassion and tell myself I should be over it, that I ought not be feeling what I’m feeling.

Gevault.

***

Still fuming, I open my journal and write the first draft of this article.

Which helps me to calm some—knowing that there is a lesson in here and my suffering isn’t all in vain.

I just wish, looking back, I had been nicer to myself along the way.

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With love,
Rabbi Brian

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