When I feel really low, I start cleaning the house or rearranging furniture. This morning, I moved around the seating in my drawing room single-handedly. And while I was at it, I was channeling the irritation of the little things into the force that actually moved the furniture. And moving a three-seater, two single seaters, two lounge chairs and a bunch of side tables needed quite some force. So there - today was bellyaching day.
Usually I am pretty self-critical and it can be tiring to be both at the giving and at the receiving end of the stick. Over the years, I have been consciously trying to become a better person each day. This means that impulsive anger goes right into the dustbin and deep breathing is as important as coffee. Along with all sorts of seemingly crazy targets, I set myself a real tough one about not being judgemental about other people. Now, that is as easy to do as climbing Everest on your first attempt without any prior mountain climbing experience. I normally catch myself after a few judgemental thoughts shape themselves into words; the self-critic objects strongly but I atleast try hard.
This morning a few memories of the past months flitted by and left me with the sour taste of dissonance. I don't know about you, but I find it annoying when someone comments about another person's bad taste in X where the range of X is pretty much anything under the sun that can be chosen. It is as if one is so convinced about one's own good (great?) taste that any other choice that conflicts with one's taste has to obviously be bad. So anybody who wears the same string of pearls with every dress is a dowdily dressed lady with poor taste. "How can you possibly wear pearls with a green and gold saree, Madhu? Padma has such bad taste". Sure, pearls may not look deadly with a green and gold saree but it hardly spells out the end of the world. And Padma probably wanted to to wear something on her neck just so that it did not look bare. She did what she did and that is all there is to it.
Another thing that annoys me is someone exchanging a gift item for something else because the selection showed bad taste. I mean, I would be disappointed if someone I gifted something to asked me for the bill of that item so that they could exchange it for something else. I believe that a gift is only a symbol of someone's affection and regard for you and that cannot be valued in hard currency. It is the intangible wrapping of the gift that is far more precious than the gift itself. If the choice of gift does not match my taste at all, I would give it an honourable place in my closet and certainly not insult the giver by asking for a bill.
A third thing that ranks at the top of the pyramid of pettiness is sharing the details of someone's confidences. It shatters the basic trust between people. And isn't 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' effective anymore?
So what is it that prompts such behind-the-back comments and petty behaviour about really little things? Maybe the smallness of the mind that thinks such thoughts. Maybe the satisfaction of assuring the small mind that it is one up on another comparable mortal. I have been guilty of such small mindedness several times in my life and so have you.
This morning, as these negative trivialities crossed my mind, I was partly angry with myself for having been a mute spectator. But then, like the little drops that gather steadily in the ocean of change, I am resolved to be non-judgemental, harder than ever.