You know what I’m talkin’ about, right?
He didn’t clean up after himself, they left mugs in the sink, you call that tidying a room (?), they left all the food out, he should have hung up those clothes, she shouldn’t have broken the glass, they should have swept the floor and bought a new box of garbage bags….
….yada yada yada it goes on and on.
You scan the room, you don’t like it.
It should look different than it looks.
Parents often dictate to their kids and have steam coming right out of both ears when the kids don’t do it right, or quickly enough, or at all.
But the other day, I had a very interesting experience.
The Other Side.
As in, I was the one who was seen through critical eyes–the loser who didn’t clean up right.
(Hanging head in shame).
The kitchen was bustling, people were finishing their lunch meals. A large group of 7-10 close friends were in a big private home kitchen.
There were a lot of house rules.
I mean, a lot.
I’m good at rules. I’m exquisite at rules. When there are rule-lists, I keep them (wouldn’t want to be seen as a loser, or disliked for not keeping the rules, afterall)!
I don’t like making trouble. I lean towards the least conflicted way possible.
When I was a kid, it was much faster to take care of the rules, handle the rules, not complain about the rules, do your chores…
…because the consequences of speaking up, arguing, or refusing to pitch in could mean extreme rage or exasperation from my mother.
That was worse than anything. It made me sick to my stomach with anxiety, with the fear of rejection and dismissal.
If I don’t do it well, I’ll be considered Not Good Enough.
So guess what. Of course.
Kitchen is full, lights are on, food is spread, dishes are clanking. I’ve gone to a space in the living room area, lying down, stretching, noticing I’m not hungry yet and can’t imagine eating right then, seeing how my body feels, what it wants to do….
….when, uh oh.
The dreaded worst thing ever.
Someone in the group came all the way over to where I was, looked at me very directly, and said “could you please come help in the kitchen?”
Anxiety, a question mark over my head.
When I finally asked, slightly embarrassed and afraid of the answer, if she thought I wasn’t doing enough, the answer was…..YES.
Yikes. Confirmed criminal. Ugh.
But right in that confirmation….
….who would I be without the belief that being seen critically, being seen as not good enough (no matter what it is, in this case cleaning) is a horrible thing?
I mean, why?
Does everyone need to think I’m a freakin’ genius? Or a brilliant and caring cleaner?
The identity of ego is so sneaky, so massive. It would get upset at someone else getting upset with me.
It would have a hissy fit and say things inside like “how dare she!” or “the nerve!” or “she should never see me poorly!”
Who would I be without any of this? How would it feel if someone could express their honest opinion, ask a simple question, and I responded honestly?
Turning the thought around: she should ask me to help, she’s right, she can say whatever she wants, I shouldn’t ask me to help (I did this so many times in my life–said yes to something I really wanted to say no to).
In that very moment, without being motivated to please but instead being honest, I could notice my answer might be “no”.
It was also TRUE that I wasn’t helping.
I was separate from everyone else at that moment. My stomach ached a little. I had no interest in eating lunch. I was having a huge internal experience of shifting at a deep level that I couldn’t explain, and I felt slightly frightened and slightly ecstatic.
I wanted at that moment to be out of the room altogether.
It was absolutely true I wasn’t helping in the kitchen!
I had been intently talking to a visitor who was only there for a short while, who had been asking me lots of questions. I was distracted, and off.
Without the belief, entering the turnarounds, I stop the game of believing a crime has been committed, or someone has accused me and it’s terrible, or something’s wrong.
Something’s exactly right.
“So if you want to find out how openness relates to each moment, just go inside. Be that openness. Be that emptiness. All you can do is ask yourself, inquire for yourself. How is it relating to this thought in my head? To this person? To this moment? You can see this. Go directly to the source, to the only authority that is finally liberating: your own awakeness, your own emptiness perceiving this moment. It will teach you how to live.” ~ Adyashanti
If the one who get adversarial, or wants to prove it’s worthy of being admired, gets involved, then BAM…
…Everything becomes very, very small and imploded into this fighting moment, now.
But without all that…
…even housecleaning wars become a moment to use for spiritual awakening instead of spiritual sleeping.
So lucky, so lucky.