Negotiating with gremlins
10 February 2009 2 Comments
Why do we negotiate with gremlins?
This phrase popped into my head as I was trying to explain to a friend why I thought it was unhealthy to give all the bullies and bastards in our lives (and especially at work) so much power over our space and time that staying angry at them ultimately prevents us from nurturing what nourishes us.
Just think about that old apocryphal tale, but one we all recognise, of the man who gets yelled at by his boss, goes home and yells at his wife, who yells at their kid, who yells at their dog, who growls at the doll. The chain of negativity, set off by one bully, affects a string of others, only stopping because the last link in the chain is inanimate. Imagine an alternate chain where the man leaves the bullying to the bully, comes home and kisses his wife, who smiles at their child, who tickles their dog, who nuzzles the doll.
Anyone you’re close to who says they have no time for you because they had a bad day at work is making a false choice, because what they’re really saying is they are never not at work and never not reliving the bad day/s over and over. In the meantime, the good day never gets a chance to flourish. Anyone who waits for the bad days to go before they can make time for the good days will find the good days never arrive, because there will always be the next task and the next crisis and the next problem to solve.
In that scenario, being happy, content and fulfilled in the here-and-now is always held off for the perfect day in which it may actually be possible to have one. In other words, we think we need a perfect day to have a perfect day. Tautological? Most definitely. For there is no such thing as the perfect day — to write that novel, to plant that tree, to tidy that closet, to tell someone they mean something to you. There is only the now.
Don’t feed after midnight.
So why, if those perfect days are so precious and fragile, do we give them over and over to gremlins? Because they know how to kick up a fuss. Because they know how to make a mess of things (and enjoy it). Because they know someone else will have to clean it up.
And maybe also because we still have to learn to be who we are when we’re not busy convincing ourselves it’s our job to clean up after them.