Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hooked on a Bad Feeling

I shouldn't pretend that I understand this because I only read about it today, but I think the Tibetan concept of shenpa might describe this inner battle I feel too frequently lately:
The Tibetan word for this is shenpa. It is usually translated "attachment," but a more descriptive translation might be "hooked." When shenpa hooks us, we're likely to get stuck. We could call shenpa "that sticky feeling." It's an everyday experience. Even a spot on your new sweater can take you there. At the subtlest level, we feel a tightening, a tensing, a sense of closing down. Then we feel a sense of withdrawing, not wanting to be where we are. That's the hooked quality. That tight feeling has the power to hook us into self-denigration, blame, anger, jealousy and other emotions which lead to words and actions that end up poisoning us.
So here is what causes me to close down, and it all starts with that damn Facebook (though I admit it could start anywhere with any kind of relationship).

A guy from elementary school -- I have not seen him or thought about him in nearly 30 years -- wants to add me as a friend. I accept. My recollections of him are vague, but I remember he was cheerful, popular, and a bit goofy looking with an extreme overbite. I was almost happy to hear from him. We exchange a couple of nice messages, but soon I start noticing his status updates as he signs up for various Facebook groups: Glenn Beck Fan Club, Stop Barack Obama, and Support the War in Iraq and Gitmo! Whoa. He supports torture. Oh, and he's also Catholic. I wonder how he reconciles that? Maybe he'd like to impeach the pope?

I felt angry and sad for the kid I used to know. My urge is to defriend him. That hardly sounds drastic. It's almost laughable! But that's my habit -- to get away from such people.

I think a grand thing I admire about President Obama is his willingness and ability to talk to people he disagrees with and listen to them. Listening is easy and it doesn't equate with appeasement.

So here I am "listening" to my aged classmate on Facebook. His latest status update says Barack Obama is the anti-christ because, seriously, Obama doesn't want to torture and Obama is trying to do too many things at once. As I recognize this shenpa thing in myself, I'm also recognizing it in others.

But right now I wish I had the talent for diplomacy that I so admire in the president. But I don't, so countdown to a Facebook defriending... 3... 2... 1...


Birdy said...

Yeah.. I too wish I could be more tolerant but I am simply intolerant of intolerant people. I am judgmental of judgmental people. At least we know who we are. :)

Kristen said...

And this guy who I wrote about isn't even the same one who announced he was going to the tax day tea party. It's fun finding old friends on Facebook, but why did they all go insane?