The spiritual lesson I learnt from my downstairs neighbor:
“Well, you may be well educated but your manners are shocking! You’re so unpleasant!” my downstairs neighbor screamed, as she walked past me on the stairs of our apartment building.
As she hobbled off towards the street, she carried on ranting aloud to be sure that I and the whole world was aware of her anger.
I had said “hello”, but she hadn’t heard me. I was tired and too in my head for the words to come out the way she would have liked them to sound.
I would like to say her tirade didn’t affect me, but it did.
“Eff off, you auld hag!” I thought to myself, outraged. “Who do you think you are?! I don’t know you from Adam!”
As I put key to lock, I couldn’t believe I had gotten myself into this unexpected kerfuffle with the woman from 3D.
I busied, or unbusied, myself with a spot of evening yoga, and managed to calm down and forget about it all for a while.
But the following day, what was a young memory still managed to haunt me enough to make me talk to myself out loud on my way to work.
In my head, I was rehearsing the perfect comeback. Dared the old witch even look at me sideways, she wouldn’t know what would hit her.
But a couple of days after the unfortunate incident, and out of the big blue, I had a thing; a strike of divine inspiration straight from spirit.
I realized this woman’s anger was not meant to make me angry. This woman’s anger was meant to make me grow.
She was right. It was indeed very possible that I came across as unpleasant to strangers, even sour at times.
I admit I am not the most outgoing, happy-go-lucky person out there. Although I always try to be polite, compassionate and helpful, I have on more than one occasion throughout my life received a “cheerio!” by a total stranger.
And it’s rather incredible how much a gratuitous comment like this can annoy you, no matter how positively it’s meant.
However, the repetitive nature of such remark has led me to believe that maybe, just maybe, I do come across a bit too serious to others; that even though I am not a somber person, I might, at times, give that impression to others.
So basically, when I feel good or even great, outwardly, I may look miserable to other people.
As a mindfulness coach, I know this is a possibility. I also know about the importance of first impressions.
So, if I want my face to match my emotions, I must smile more. You know, stretch the sides of the mouth outward and upward a wee bit more, maybe even show some teeth.
But, why bother at all? – some might ask.
Because this world is already divided enough, and I for one, would like us all to be more united.
And because Unity starts with U, or in this case, with me.
There is a good chance my octogenarian downstairs neighbor will never read this. But still, I would like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt thank you.
I am open to see what there is for me to see in every situation, to feel, to learn, to grow and to be the best person I can be. Thanks to you I saw, I felt, I learnt and hopefully I grew into an even better person.
So today, when I ran into you on the third floor with an honest smile and a cheerful greeting, and you ignored me, I felt happy. I felt the kind of peace that comes not with ego driven one-upmanship, but the kind of peace that comes with sincere fraternal kindness.
As he laid on the bathroom floor, the needle still clung onto his bruised arm. She kneeled down beside him, and with her chic clutch tightly tucked under her arm, she grabbed him and pulled him tightly into her body.
Rocking him in her arms, she closed her desperate eyes, only this time her mascara didn’t run because she had no tears left. She had cried them all. She had no words left either. He had made it clear that nothing she said or did would change him.
And so she held his frail body for the last time, for what felt like a minute but clocked two hours. She wanted to feel her soulmate, to infuse her spirit with his scent, to count every little white bird in his black shirt, every cute freckle on his worn face… she wanted to fade into him before she broke her heart.
– Every woman I have ever given my heart to has abandoned me… you’re going to abandon me too, aren’t you? – his tired mouth whispered.
And her heart broke open like a piñata, and out poured what felt like lifetimes worth of deadly wounds. Her chest hurt so bad and she felt so nauseous that she thought she may be having a heart attack.
– I am not going to abandon you babe, I am just leaving you.
– OK… fuck off then… whore – he said, emotionless.
She released him back onto he cold floor and the infinite universe.
Barely able to hold her own body weight, she stumbled around the apartment trying to find a suitcase. She emptied her drawers and swept her side of the wardrobe clean. When she chanced upon the 40’s silk red dress he got her for their first Valentine’s day, she hesitated. She left the dress but took their Bengal kitten Twin Flame and bumbled out of the apartment.
With every step she walked away from him, she felt weaker and weaker. Her knees failed her, her hands shook and her body bent like an old woman’s.
Nana Joy is a short story about the pursuit of happiness. Intended to inspire the soul, uplift the spirit and enlighten the way, may you enjoy it:
– Why is it so hard nana? Why is it so fucking hard to be happy?
– Because of the antonym — nana mumbled as she crocheted a wool magenta hat for her grandaughter.
– What?! — Clare’s head shook in stupefaction.
– The antonym — nana repeated — what is the antonym of happiness, dear?
– Friggin despair?! — Claire couldn´t help herself — I don’t know… unhappiness, sadness, misery… my entire life!
– Oh Clarebear, not with a name like yours — said nana with a quick knowing glance.
Clare slided off the couch and curled up on the worn out Indian silk carpet, right next to nana’s wooden chair.
– Sweet Clariebear, you should never pursue anything that has an antonym, for it will only be a temporary fixture, it won’t last long. Soon, you will fall in the arms of its opposite, and that too won’t last long. You will live a life of highs and lows, peaks and valleys… you will age prematurely. You will get horrible wrinkles you know, hills, gorges and folds even Nivea won´t be able to fix.
– Ew, no-thank-you! So, what are you saying nana? I shouldn’t want to be happy?
– Nope, you shouldn’t. You should just be joyful.
– Isn’t that the same shizzle?
– No, it is not the same… shizzle, my dear. Joy is an immutable emotion. It has no antonym. Joy is a state of being, not doing. Joy is a state of being that depends on no thing and no one. Joy is unalterable, unshakable, unbreakable, infinite, eternal, holy, truth.
– Wow… who said that, Father Tony?
– God no! — nana carried on slowly and lovingly crocheting — an old friend of grandad’s and mine. Joy is a frequency, you see, a vibration you can pull into your body straight from spirit. Spirit resides two feet or so above your head…
– What?! He does?!
– Shush. Clare, spirit is heshe.
– Oh, of course, of course nan. So, joy…
– Yes. Joy, you don’t pursue, you access. The easiest and quickest way to access joy is straight through the meadow of peace and the river of love.
– Right — said Clare trying to make sense of nana’s metaphor.
– It’s not a metaphor, Clariebear. First, you be peace, be peace, be peace… think of someone or something that resonates peace into every cell of your being. Then, you be love, be love, be love… it feels different, doesn’t it? Now, be joyful. Bring your attention to a place about two feet above your head and pull this energy down into the body, all the way down into the feet and back up and around. Joy, joy, joy… joy to the world… — nana started to hum, then sing to herself, then to Clariebear.
– Joy, joy, joy… joy to the world. Joy, joy, joy… joy to the world! — as she sang, Clare’s eyelids softened, her smile broadened into a grin, her beauty exploded like flowers in spring.